Halal Endorsements: Stirring Controversy or Gaining New Customers?


Marketing and Professional Sales

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Purpose – Halal food endorsements perceived positively by the focal target group may lead to a negative reaction of consumers that harbor animosity against this target group. For such potentially controversial endorsements, in-group animosity against out-group associated product endorsements could lead to a rejection and even an outspoken disapproval of these food products. The purpose of this paper is to explain what drives in-group reactions to Halal endorsements. Design/methodology/approach – The authors use Social Identity Theory and the Social Dominance Theory in explaining animosity toward out-groups and willingness to buy products with Halal endorsements. Specifically, the authors analyze the reaction of more than 800 in-group majority Christians toward out-group minority Muslim directed Halal endorsements. Following the development of hypotheses and a conceptual model, structural equation modeling is used to measure the relationships between the constructs. Findings – Constructs based on Social Dominance Theory and Social Identity Theory predict animosity toward out-group endorsements, but the relationship between Social Dominance Theory and animosity is much stronger. Animosity is a mediator between these two constructs and willingness to purchase products with out-group focussed endorsements (Halal). Research limitations/implications – The research has been conducted in one particular country (Austria) and focusses on a specific type of controversial endorsement, namely a religious (Halal) endorsement. Other research contexts (i.e. other countries and/or different types of controversial endorsements) should be used to widen the empirical base and validate the findings. Practical implications – Marketers should be aware of a possible negative impact of out-group focussed endorsements. In particular, they should be cognizant that racism and ethnocentrism prevailing in a society could reduce the purchase intent of in-groups. Social implications – Efforts are required to combat the drivers of animosity between in-groups and out-groups. This paper provides insights on how this may be achieved. Originality/value – This study focusses on a hitherto neglected phenomenon, i.e. controversial endorsements. It uses two alternative theories and advances the understanding of the role of animosity in a domestic consumer setting; an issue that has nearly exclusively been discussed with regard to cross-border purchasing.

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International Marketing Review

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