2. Literature Review and Research Model
2.1. The Product-Harm Crisis
2.2. The Dual-Process Theory
2.3. The Consumers’ Ethical Reasoning
- The perceived crisis severity has a negative impact on the consumers’ purchase intention.
- The perceived crisis severity has a positive impact on the consumers’ negative word of mouth.
- The perceived crisis severity has a positive impact on the consumers’ negative word of mouth.
2.4. The Consumers’ Emotional Intuition
- The consumers’ experiences of (a) contempt and (b) anger have a positive impact on the perceived crisis severity.
- The consumers’ experiences of (a) contempt and (b) anger have a positive impact on the perceived crisis relevance.
- The (a) contempt and (b) anger have a negative impact on the consumers’ brand evaluation.
- The (a) contempt and (b) anger have a positive impact on the consumers’ negative word of mouth.
2.5. The Moderating Effect of Product Knowledge
- The product knowledge level moderates the impact of the perceived crisis severity on the experiences of contempt and anger negatively. That is, the higher the product knowledge level is, the weaker the impact of the perceived crisis severity on the experiences of (a) contempt and (b) anger will be, vice versa.
3. Research Design
3.1. Research Samples
3.2. Questionnaire Design and the Measurement of Variables
3.2.1. Questionnaire Design
3.2.2. The Measurement of Variables
- Independent variables: perceived crisis severity and perceived crisis relevance. These two variables are measured by the related concepts of Haas-Kotzegger and Schlegelmilch’s research and Jones’s research [5,34]. The perceived crisis severity consists of four items, they are: “the overall harm to the users”, “the personal harm to the users”, “the harm to the users’ properties” and “the un-eliminated hidden harm to the users” (Cronbach’s α = 0.94). A seven-point Likert scale is adopted ranging from “very small” (1) to “very large” (7). The perceived crisis relevance includes two items: “to harm the people I know” and “to harm the people around me” (γ = 0.87). A seven-point Likert scale is adopted ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7).
- Dependent variables. The measurements of contempt and anger are based on the other-condemning emotion scale of Grappi’s research . The contempt includes three items: “to feel contemptuous”, “to feel scornful”, and “to feel disdainful” (Cronbach’s α = 0.86). The anger includes three items: “be angry”, “be mad”, and “be very annoyed” (Cronbach’s α = 0.93). The measurements of brand evaluation and purchase intention are based on the Klein and Dawar’s study on a product-harm crisis. The brand evaluation includes five items: “I have a positive evaluation to the brand”, “I think the quality for the whole brand is excellent”, “the brand is trustworthy”, “the brand is reliable”, and “the brand concern about customers” . Purchase intention includes three items: “if buying a car, I will choose the brand”, “if the brand price is 20% higher than other cars on the same level, I will still buy it”, and “I will continue to buy the same brand when I change vehicles” (Cronbach’s α = 0.87). The measurement of the negative word of mouth is also based on Grappi’s scale, including “to suggest friends and others do not buy the brand car” and “to persuade friends and others do not believe the brand” (γ = 0.88) . All of the variables are measured on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7).
- Moderator: product knowledge. According to Smith and Park (1992)’s scale, the measurement of product knowledge includes five items, “I’m very familiar with the car”, “If a friend asks me about buying cars, I can give advice based on different brands”, “If I want to buy a car, I don’t have to search for relevant information”, “I’m very good at distinguishing different brands of cars”, and “I am very confident that I can tell the differences between different brands of cars” (Cronbach’s α = 0.94). A seven-point Likert scale is adopted ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7).
- Demographic variables. Demographic variables influence the consumers’ cognition, emotion, and behavioral responses to the product-harm crisis. In this study, demographic variables are treated as control variables in the model, including gender, age, marital status, income level, education level, and brand ownership.
4. Data Analysis
4.1. The Measurement Model Test
4.2. Structural Model Test
4.3. Moderating Effect Test
5. Discussions and Conclusions
5.1. The Theoretical Contribution
5.2. The Practical Contribution
5.3. Research Limitations and Future Study
Conflicts of Interest
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|Variable||Category||No. of Participants||Percentage||Variables||Category||No. of Participants||Percentage|
|Age||Up to 24||54||6.7%||Income||Under 1999 RMB||154||19.2%|
|Over 55||71||8.9%||Above 12,000 RMB||45||5.6%|
|Education||High School||48||6%||Brand||No car||309||38.6%|
|Construct||Indicators||Standardized Loading||T Value||Composite Reliability||AVE|
|Contempt||Anger||Perceived Severity||Perceived Relevance||Brand Evaluation||Purchase Intention||Negative WOM|
|Path||Standardized Coefficients||Wald Chi-Square Test|
|Low Product Knowledge Group||High Product Knowledge Group|
|Perceived severity → Contempt||γ11||0.19 (p < 0.01)||0.05 (p = 0.39)||χ21 = 3.02 (p < 0.1)|
|Perceived severity → Anger||γ21||0.34 (p < 0.01)||0.20 (p < 0.01)||χ21 = 5.44 (p < 0.01)|
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