Effects of Product Failure Severity and Locus of Causality on Consumers' Brand Evaluation

Document Type



defensive attribution; outcome severity; locus of causality; product failure; consumer-caused failure; brand-caused failure; brand evaluation

Identifier Data



Scientific Journal Publishers

Publication Source

Social Behavior and Personality, 44(7),1209-1222


Although product failure causes both marketers and consumers to incur substantial damage and losses, failures are often very difficult for marketers to control. Building on the defensive attribution literature, we investigated how locus of causality and outcome severity of product failure interactively shape consumers’ (N = 366) brand evaluation. The results showed that after a product failure experience, consumers responded with the least favorable evaluation for brand-caused failure, a more favorable evaluation for natural disaster-caused failure, and the most favorable evaluation for consumer-caused failure. However, outcome severity moderated the effects: When the failure resulted in a severe outcome, positive brand evaluation deteriorated in the case of consumer-caused failure only. In addition, brand-blame attribution mediated these relationships. Our findings provide a foundation for recovery strategies in accordance with failure severity and responsible parties.