What Did You Do to My Brand? The Moderating Effect of Brand Nostalgia on Consumer Responses to Changes in a Brand

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Previous research on consumer nostalgia has concluded that nostalgic feelings primarily have a positive effect on consumers, boosting positive feelings and affective responses. However, evidence suggests that consumers who hold nostalgic feelings toward a specific brand sometimes respond negatively to updated or modified versions of the brand. This research tests the moderating effect of consumers’ brand nostalgia on their responses to changes to a brand. Across four studies, the authors find that consumers who are nostalgic toward a specific brand exhibit a positive bias toward the original version of the brand that leads them to perceive the brand as having changed more than do less nostalgic consumers. Further, when the change to the brand is perceived to be large, individuals who are highly nostalgic for a brand show a significantly sharper decrease in reported attitude and behavioral intentions toward the changed brand than do their less nostalgic counterparts. This effect is in opposition to the positive effects of a general tendency toward nostalgia proneness. These results are replicated across multiple product categories and both manipulated and real changes, and the effect is found to be mediated by the consumer's biased perception of how much the brand has changed.

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Psychology and Marketing

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