Cultural Meanings and Consumers' Discourses about Their Brand Abandonment
Abstract Although we know a lot about how brand meanings are created and perpetuated in relation to and through cultural discourses, remarkably little work has been done in the marketing field to develop a better comprehension as to how brand meanings are enacted through distancing behaviors, such as brand abandonment. In the marketing literature, abandonment has usually been associated with relationship crises, most commonly as the result of consumer dissatisfaction. This study investigates consumers who abandoned previously consumed brands in two distinct product categories, soft drinks and automobiles. Through investigation of two emblematic brands - Coca-Cola and Fiat - the analysis illustrates cultural discourses that consumers use to give meanings and socially negotiate their brand abandonment. Considering the repertoire of meanings attached to both the brands and consumers' commitment to their distancing behavior, the analysis presents three types of brand abandonment: (a) contingent, (b) balanced and (c) aversive. This paper also presents brand abandonment as an enabler of social distinctions, highlighting two discrete discourses promulgated and perpetuated by consumers: (a) Life evolution, and (b) Rationality, self-control and sovereignty.