Understanding local consumers' reactions to perceived unfair product recalls of foreign brands: a relative deprivation perspective

Junyun Liao, Siying He, Yanghong Hu, Jiawen Chen, Xuebing Dong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global product-harm crises increased in recent years. After such crises, firms' product-recall policies varied across countries, which might cause consumers in some countries to feel unfairly treated. Drawing on the relative deprivation theory, this study aims to examine how perceived unfairness of local consumers alters their attitudes toward unfairness-enacting foreign brands and competing domestic brands.

This framework was tested by a netnography study on two product recalls from Samsung along with a consumer survey. While this netnography study provided preliminary support to the framework, survey data collected from 501 Samsung consumers after the Galaxy Note 7 crisis validated the theoretical model again.

Perceived unfairness increases local consumers' avoidance of involved foreign brands and their intention to purchase domestic brands through evoking anger toward the foreign brands. Moreover, the detrimental impact of perceived unfairness is found to be stronger when consumers' prior relationship quality is high.

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper that investigates unfair product recalls across countries and aims to provide important insights into how consumers react to the unfair treatment of foreign brands in a global product-harm context. This study contributes to the product-harm crisis literature and provides important implications for global product-harm crisis management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2023


  • product harm crisis
  • product recall
  • foreign brands


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