Assessing Consumers’ brand loyalty after a brand crisis: A case of Listeria in KwaZulu-Natal


Vol 17 | Issue 2 pp. 52-65


Brand crises are unexpected and any organisation can be exposed to a brand crisis. Existing research on brands in crisis focus mostly on the effectiveness of the organisation’s response. However, there is limited research on the effect of a brand crisis on consumer’s brand loyalty. This study aims to examine the impact of a brand crisis on a consumer’s brand loyalty, with the Listeriosis crisis used as a case study. A quantitative research method was used to collect data from 384 randomly selected food retail store shoppers at Empangeni and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, through the use of questionnaires. The findings reveal that females and males differ significantly and high-income earners expressed loyalty to Rainbow and Enterprise even after the Listeriosis crisis because of their reliability, the unique products that they offer, and the fact that they satisfy their customer needs. Findings also showed that customers remain loyal even after a brand crisis.The research was limited to uMhlathuze municipality thus it cannot be generalised. The brand crisis was limited to the Listeriosis case.  This study contributes to the literature on brand management by examining why consumers remain loyal to certain brands even after a crisis. This study also provides insight into how organisations can prepare for a crisis because there is no organisation immune to a brand crisis. The research concludes that because of the strong relationship that consumers have with brands, the former is less affected by crises. Moreover, the positive prior beliefs towards brands faced with a product-harm crisis, lead to less blame from consumers. Based on the findings of the study, it can be concluded that brand loyalty far outweighs temporal crises. Organisations should build strong and positive relationships with consumers through engaging in corporate social responsibility activities and should also have a crisis management team to handle product-harm crises.

Keywords: Brand loyalty, Listeriosis, product-harm crisis, crisis management

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