Are you a big fan of Apple or Nike, or a hater of McDonald’s? A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows love-it or hate-it brands probably won’t perform exceptionally well in the stock market, but they also offer investors less risk because you know just what to expect — the good and the bad.

Assistant Professor Michael Wiles of the W. P. Carey School of Business and his co-authors, Professor Xueming Luo of Temple University and Assistant Professor Sascha Raithel of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, looked at data from more than 3 million users of more than 2,600 brands in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. They considered people’s perceptions of brand quality, value and satisfaction, as well as whether they would recommend the brand, feel good about using its products, or feel good about working for the company. The results of their study were published in the academic Journal of Marketing Research and the Harvard Business Review.

Wal-Mart, Fox News Channel and AT&T are some brands that have high dispersion. Intel and Amazon are low-dispersion brands. Wiles says brand managers should pay close attention to brand dispersion and engage, even with the haters, when appropriate. They should either placate the haters or amplify the polarizing issue to rally and interest loyal fans.

The full study on brand dispersion can be found online at journals.ama.org.

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