Would You Buy That Church? A Study of the Branding of Denominations

Danielle Gargiulo, Kirby Gowen, Shar’Niese Miller, Josann Schoeff, Huntington University

Full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v10/gargiulo.html

Abstract This study examined whether individuals treat denominations like product brands. It was hypothesized that people would be more loyal to a brand than to their church. Thirty college professors, 20 healthcare workers from Family Practice and Associates (a prestigious healthcare facility in Huntington), and 97 college juniors and seniors from Huntington University (a Midwestern Christian college) were selected at random. They were asked to complete the “Denominational Loyalty Assessment,” which is a survey comprised of multiple studies: a three year study of churches by the Search Institute (1990), a brand study by R. Bennett and S. Rundle-Thiele (2000), and a study done by the Pew Research Group (personal communication, February 21, 2011). The results were then analyzed using the Pearson r correlation. This study found that generational difference played a role in the way people treated their denomination.

Introduction Society seems to be headed in a direction where all aspects of life are viewed in a consumerist mindset. There is a possibility that this trend is affecting denominations as well. Although there is little research investigating this possibility, this study will look at loyalty to a denomination as well as loyalty to brands. To begin, studies on brand loyalty will be examined.

In the article by Kim, Morris, and Swait (2008), five antecedents of true brand loyalty were listed: brand credibility, affective brand conviction, cognitive brand conviction, attitude strength, and brand commitment. These antecedents are functional in forming a consumer’s genuine commitment to a brand. In their study they considered behavioral intention as brand commitment, leading up to brand loyalty, but not necessarily being indicative of it. They concluded that there was a close relationship between brand commitment and true brand loyalty, which they cited as transcending simple repeated purchases–genuine commitment to the brand.

Read the full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v10/gargiulo.html