Purpose – Brands can imbue unique meaning to consumers, and such meaning and personal experience with a brand can create an emotional connection and relationship between the consumer and the brand. Just as many service providers have adopted branding strategies, marketers are branding the health care service experience. Health care is an intimate service experience and emotions play an integral role in health care decision making. The purpose of this paper is to examine how emotional or affect‐based consumer brand relationships are developed for health care organizations. Design/methodology/approach – Empirical evidence from both depth interviews and data garnered from 322 surveys were integrated into a conceptual model. The model was tested using structural equation modeling. Findings – Results indicate that trust, referent influence and corporate social responsibility are key variables in establishing affective commitment in consumer brand relationships in a health care context. Once affective commitment is achieved, consumers may come to identify with the health care provider's brand and a self‐brand connection is formed. When such a phenomenon takes place, consumers can serve as advocates for the brand by actively promoting it via word‐of‐mouth. Practical implications – The findings provide insight for marketing managers in developing successful branding strategies for health care organizations. Originality/value – This research examines the advantages of cultivating meaningful brand connections and relationships with consumers in a health care context.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 31, 2014
Keywords: Affective commitment; Health care; Branding
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