Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Kamran Disfani, Omid
This research investigates brand equity’s role in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19, a complex crisis, on firms’ stock performance. It also compares a high brand equity stock (HBES) portfolio with the overall market during three periods of the crisis (downturn, upturn, and total disturbance). To delineate brand equity’s influences across different periods of the COVID-19 crisis, I distinguish between three market periods: (1) market downturn; (2) market upturn; (3) total disturbance. Furthermore, the excess returns of the HBES portfolio with the overall market, containing all the firms listed collectively on the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP), NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ, are compared. The Fama-French (FF; Fama and French, 1993) method is used to examine the brand equity’s effects on stock return and risk factors, namely volatility and beta. Using the Behavioral Portfolio Theory (BPT), this research shows brand equity insulates firm performance during the COVID-19 crisis by improving stock return and mitigating risks. However, brand equity effects vary across the three market periods, improving stock return and reducing volatility in the downturn. Nevertheless, brand equity does not buffer stock return in the upturn. Overall, during the total disturbance period, brand equity protects stock return and diminishes risk. The comparative findings indicate brand equity is a strong protector of stock return in the downturn, while it is more effective in reducing risk in the upturn. The findings advance research by providing evidence pertaining to brand’s role in mitigating the impact of unpredictable market shocks and crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, on stock performance. While brands are mostly viewed as drivers of sustained competitive advantage and profitability, their protective role in times of crisis is noteworthy. The findings can potentially help marketing and brand managers justify marketing spending and aid them in crafting strategies to enhance firm performance during crises similar to the COVID-19. The marketing-finance interface can benefit from insights offered by the COVID-19 pandemic, as such crises are becoming prevalent and are capable of damaging various stakeholder’s outcomes (firms, investors, customers).
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