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Brands: The Opiate of the Nonreligious Masses?

Author

Listed:
  • Ron Shachar

    () (Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University, 69979 Tel Aviv, Israel; and Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

  • Tülin Erdem

    () (Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, New York 10012)

  • Keisha M. Cutright

    () (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

  • Gavan J. Fitzsimons

    () (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

Abstract

Are brands the "new religion"? Practitioners and scholars have been intrigued by the possibility, but strong theory and empirical evidence supporting the existence of a relationship between brands and religion is scarce. In what follows, we argue and demonstrate that religiosity is indeed related to "brand reliance," i.e., the degree to which consumers prefer branded goods over unbranded goods or goods without a well-known national brand. We theorize that brands and religiosity may serve as substitutes for one another because both allow individuals to express their feelings of self-worth. We provide support for this substitution hypothesis with U.S. state-level data (field study) as well as individual-level data where religiosity is experimentally primed (study 1) or measured as a chronic individual difference (study 2). Importantly, studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that the relationship between religiosity and brand reliance only exists in product categories in which brands enable consumers to express themselves (e.g., clothes). Moreover, studies 3 and 4 demonstrate that the expression of self-worth is an important factor underlying the negative relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Ron Shachar & Tülin Erdem & Keisha M. Cutright & Gavan J. Fitzsimons, 2011. "Brands: The Opiate of the Nonreligious Masses?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(1), pages 92-110, 01-02.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:30:y:2011:i:1:p:92-110
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1100.0591
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniela Andreini & Diego Rinallo & Giuseppe Pedeliento & Mara Bergamaschi, 2017. "Brands and Religion in the Secularized Marketplace and Workplace: Insights from the Case of an Italian Hospital Renamed After a Roman Catholic Pope," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 529-550, March.
    2. Utgård, Jakob & Nygaard, Arne & Dahlstrom, Robert, 2015. "Franchising, local market characteristics and alcohol sales to minors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2117-2124.
    3. Jamel Khenfer & Steven Shepherd & Aaron Kay, 2015. "Religious Responses to “Selling Happiness”: Consequences for Attitude toward the Ad and the Advertised Brand," Post-Print hal-01121391, HAL.

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