Consumer-to-consumer conflicts and brand moderation strategies during COVID-19 service failures: a framework for international marketers

Dineva, D., Breitsohl, J. , Roschk, H. and Hosseinpour, M. (2023) Consumer-to-consumer conflicts and brand moderation strategies during COVID-19 service failures: a framework for international marketers. International Marketing Review, (doi: 10.1108/IMR-12-2021-0368) (Early Online Publication)

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Purpose: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one dark social-media phenomenon in particular has experienced a significant rise: consumer-to-consumer (C2C) conflicts, i.e. consumers who verbally attack each other in response to COVID-19 service failures. The aim of this paper is to uncover the sources of such conflicts and to gain an insight into the corresponding conflict moderation strategies that international brands adopt. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology consists of non-participatory netnographic observations of 13 national, international, and global online brand communities (OBCs) on Facebook. The authors use purposeful sampling to collect relevant data on conflict sources and brand moderation strategies during COVID-19 service failures and a hybrid approach to thematic analysis to derive distinct themes from these data. Findings: The paper identifies five C2C conflict sources: brand attack, brand dissatisfaction, brand skepticism, brand contention and brand defense; these are then classified as having either an individualistic (self-oriented) or collectivistic (other-oriented) orientation. The authors also uncover several moderation strategies: non-engaging, automated, bolstering, asserting (direct, indirect) and informing (factual, empathetic, apologetic), which are broadly categorized into two levels based on their passive vs active approach and authoritative vs cooperative orientation. The paper further highlights that brands adapt their moderation strategies to specific sources of C2C conflicts, thereby producing a range of OBC outcomes. Practical implications: The study's empirically informed framework comprising sources of undesirable conflicts and brand moderation strategies offers a practical tool that can aid marketing managers in nurturing civil C2C engagement and interactive behaviors in their OBCs. By adopting our framework, brand and marketing practitioners can tailor their communication strategies toward different sources of C2C conflict and minimize their adverse consequences, thus, fostering an overall constructive OBC engagement. Originality/value: The authors offer a novel framework to international marketing research, consisting of C2C conflict sources and corresponding moderation strategies that take place in response to service failures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These insights, in turn, inform international marketers about new ways of transforming the dark side of OBCs into a source of competitive advantage based on real-world brand practice.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Breitsohl, Dr Jan
Authors: Dineva, D., Breitsohl, J., Roschk, H., and Hosseinpour, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:International Marketing Review
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN (Online):1758-6763
Published Online:02 May 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in International Marketing Review 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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