Developing and Validating a Brand Morality (BM) Scale with Retail Consumers

  • Yunyi Wei

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Perceived "morally good behaviour" plays an increasingly significant role in consumer decisions (e.g., Grappi et al., 2013, Hoppner and Vadakkepatt., 2019, Romani et al., 2015). Nonetheless, this concept is still an under-researched area. To address this omission, the present study conceptual this concept and explores a broader operationalization to examine brand morality from a consumer's subjective perspective.
    Following established measurement theory guidelines and scale-up procedures that are widely used in consumer research (Churchill, 1979; DeVellis, 2016), the present study explores the determinants (meanings) of brand morality and develops a multi-dimensional scale, via an exploratory investigation (n=12) and two confirmatory surveys with two independent samples (n=803, 205). A 26-item measurement scale is developed that demonstrates good internal consistency, reliability, construct validity and normative validity. The findings reveal that brand morality comprises seven dimensions: care, compliance, equality, fairness, reciprocity, decency, and competence. Moreover, the findings also confirmed that brand morality impacts consumer cognition and behaviour. They included brand honesty, brand reliability, brand trust, self-brand connections, brand reputation, brand loyalty, likelihood to recommend and likelihood to pay more.
    This study makes three contributions to the branding literature. Firstly, this study established the co-utility of three theories to explain brand morality from a consumer’s point of view. They are Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), Morality as Cooperation Theory (MAC), and Confucius Virtues (CV). Secondly, the study brings new insights into defining brand morality, which identifies multiple dimensions, including confirming the importance of some established dimensions (e.g., care, fairness) and presenting unique dimensions for brand morality (i.e., competence and decency). The process illustrates the intricate relationship between brand morality and brand ethics. That is, they are related but distinct concepts.
    Thirdly, the present research introduces a branding-focused framework with a measurement scale for morality, which will provide the stepping stone for future studies that seek to research the concept in question. Managers can utilize the brand morality framework to achieve good and avoid malicious actions. They are advised that brand morality and the different moral dimensions can significantly influence marketing consumer-oriented outcomes, notably, consumer cognitions and behaviours, thereby achieving various business objectives.
    Date of Award19 Apr 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorYuksel Ekinci (Supervisor) & Jason Sit (Supervisor)

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