The impact of self-congruity (symbolic and functional) on the brand hate: a study based on self-congruity theory

Tahir Islam, Saman Attiq, Zahid Hameed, Munnawar Naz Khokhar, Zaryab Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to test the impact of symbolic and functional incongruity on brand hate. According to self-congruity theory, symbolic and functional congruence are a critical phenomenon in consumer buying decisions. Therefore, the present study develops a theoretical framework based on self-congruity theory to examine the key determinants of brand hate.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected only in fast-food chain franchises in the capital city territory of Pakistan. Therefore, it is hard to generalize the findings of this research for customers from different cultural backgrounds. 

Findings: The results of the study reveal that symbolic and functional incongruence are the primary factors responsible for brand hate among Pakistani fast-food customers. Customers carefully consider both self-image and product attributes when purchasing products. 

Research limitations/implications: The research uses the cross-sectional method, which limits the findings’ usefulness in other sectors. 

Practical implications: The current research helps policymakers understand the key determinants of brand hate, showing that symbolic incongruence is the primary antecedent. Therefore, policymakers and corporate leaders should consider that Pakistan is an Islamic country where consumer choices of food are not only derived from food quality, food hygiene and service quality, but also the symbolic image (i.e. halal food) is a vital determinant of consumption. 

Originality/value: This study contributes to the literature by discussing the above issue and presenting quantitative data. This research extends the literature by testing and validating a conceptual model that includes two types of congruence (symbolic and functional) to study brand hate. The proposed conceptual model provides a novel, theoretical, self-congruity point of view on brand hate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number1
Early online date15 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Brand hate
  • Functional incongruity
  • Self-congruity theory
  • Symbolic incongruity


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