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The Impact Of Envy On Brand Preference: Brand Storytelling And Psychological Distance As Moderators

Danny Tengti Kao

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Purpose While envy has been widely explored in psychology literature, theoretical understanding of the effects of envy on consumers’ emotional responses to brands is promising but under explored. Therefore, this study aims to apply cases of envy and psychological distance to consumers to examine whether the style of brand storytelling can moderate brand preference. Design/methodology/approach Three experimental studies were conducted to test the hypotheses. Experiment 1 investigated the effect of envy on consumer evaluations of an advocated brand, through viewing a series of advertisements that varied in brand storytelling styles. A total of 104 working students were randomly assigned to a 2 (brand storytelling: underdog vs top dog) single factorial design. Experiment 2 investigates the effect of envy on consumer evaluations of the advocated brand through viewing advertisements that varied in psychological distance. A total of 108 working students were randomly assigned to a 2 (psychological distance: proximal vs distant) single factorial design. Experiment 3 investigated the effect of envy on evaluations of the brand through viewing advertisements that varied in brand storytelling style and psychological distance. A total of 208 working students were randomly assigned to a 2 (underdog vs top dog) × 2 (proximal vs distant psychological distance) between-subject factorial design. Findings Results demonstrate that for consumers experiencing benign and malicious envy, advertisements characterized by brand storytelling (underdog vs top dog) and psychological distance (proximal vs distant) will elicit differential brand preferences. Originality/value This research takes up the call to address the limited attention given to envy in the context of brand advertising. Specifically, this research aims to explore how consumer envy influences brand preference and the role of moderating effects such as brand storytelling and psychological distance in this context.