Discourses after Dieselgate - Consumers’ perspective on brand disasters
Brands are one of the most valuable assets to a company, which makes brand disasters a highly relevant topic to companies. In order to gain deeper understanding on the matter of brand disasters, this study is taking on a perspective that is new for the phenomenon: discourse analysis on the consumer perspective of a brand disaster. For this purpose, Volkswagen´s emission scandal Dieselgate has been chosen in order to explore and illustrate the discourses created after a brand scandal. Analysis on the interview material from nine Swedish VW consumers have resulted in seven discourses: Rebellizing, Moralization, Passivication, Normalization, Victimization, Scandalization and Politicization. The presence of the multitude of discourses suggests that the matter of brand disasters such as Dieselgate is a complex issue with many important aspects to regard when understanding the situation. The analysis has showed that important themes in the brand disaster from a consumer perspective are: responsibility, trust, harm and systemic critique. The study shows that there is a noticeable mistrust of environmental-friendly alternatives after a greenwashing scandal. The study has found that discourse analysis as a method is suitable for studying matters such as a brand disaster from a bottom-to-top perspective, in order to understand the situation from a new perspective.
MSc in Marketing and Consumption