Brand management: Don't be a victim of brand hate

Douglas Bryson and Glyn Atwal

ESC Rennes School of Business

A shocking 93% of consumers in a study say they hate at least one brand. So how can brands avoid provoking deep ill-feeling?

Brand hate is not just an extremist phenomenon. Regular consumers hate brands too – regularly. It's hard to imagine a customer who hates your brand as being a loyal repeat buyer. Common sense dictates that people hating your brand cannot be a good thing. Yet, to any experienced marketer, it sounds like a typical happenstance, even downright likely in some industries. Just ask anyone at BP.

Company X does something,'irresponsible’ or'anti-ecological’ to deserve bad press and a tarnished reputation, and a group of ‘extremist’ consumers react with boycotts, publicity stunts, anti-company websites and perhaps even class action lawsuits – it all adds up to predictable, and hopefully temporary, anti-brand sentiment. The splash might be a short-term distraction, but nobody seriously wants a lingering anti-brand sentiment. However, it happens.