Not All (Brand) Changes are Made Equal: Understanding Which Changes Impact Brand Loyalty


Marketing, Marketing

Publishing details

Social Sciences Research Network

Authors / Editors

Chen S; Urminsky O


Publication Year



Some changes that brands make seem to impact brand loyalty, while other seem to have little influence. We propose that when a consumer is loyal to a brand, the consumer’s beliefs about the cause-effect relationships that exist among that brand’s features influence which changes will negatively impact brand loyalty. Specifically, brand loyalty is more harmed by changes to features that are perceived as more causally connected to other important features of a brand (i.e., more causally central), compared to changes in more causally peripheral features. Across six studies, we demonstrate that changes to features impact brand loyalty to the extent that the feature is seen as causally central. We show that manipulations that make a feature more causally peripheral decrease the impact of a change to that feature on brand loyalty. Further, we demonstrate that the impact of causal centrality on the brand loyalty response to change is mediated by perceived disruption to brand identity. Our results provide a new perspective on consumer loyalty, suggesting that maintaining brand identity is key to maintaining brand loyalty.


brand loyalty; causal reasoning; customer loyalty; identity


Social Sciences Research Network