This paper aims to introduce brand identity (BI) fit as an important factor that influences co-branding success. Based on motivated reasoning theory, the authors propose consumer-brand (C-B) identification moderates the effect of BI fit on co-branding attitudes. In addition, they investigate the role of consumer coping and perceived BI fit on consumers’ attitude toward co-branding.
Two experiments were conducted to test the research hypotheses.
Study 1 results reveal that when C-B identification is low, consumers’ co-branding evaluations and the loyalty of the focal brand are higher in the low BI fit condition than those in the high BI fit condition. When C-B identification is high, such effects are not observed. Study 2 results reveal that when the BI fit is low, decoupling is more effective than biased assimilation at defending the positive evaluations of the focal brand.
First, while the authors focus particularly on BI fit, it may be fruitful for marketers to combine BI fit with other types of fit such as functional dimension fit and product category fit. For example, while the results suggest marketers should co-brand with low BI fit pairs when targeting at low C-B identification consumers, this recommendation should be taken in conjunction with how consumers respond to other co-branding fit strategies. Second, the authors encourage future researchers to explore deeper into the consumer coping in other contexts. As these elements are critical to consumers’ attitudes, it will be beneficial to see how decoupling or biased assimilation strategies differ in other co-branding fit contexts.
The authors advise marketers to consider both the level of BI fit and the level of C-B identification when looking for a co-brand partner. When targeting low C-B identification consumers, it is better for marketers to find a co-branding partner with a low BI fit than high BI fit. This is a counterintuitive finding given that higher fit (e.g. product category fit and brand image fit) is often associated with positive evaluations. For high C-B identification consumers, BI fit does not adversely affect consumer attitudes (and loyalty). Thus, these consumers are safer targets for marketers in terms of maintaining attitudes. Second, the authors find that when perceived BI fit is low, decoupling strategy is more effective than biased assimilation strategy at defending the positive evaluations of the focal brand. However, when perceived BI fit is high, the two coping strategies have little difference in influencing co-branding attitudes. Thus, the authors advise marketers to encourage their consumers to cope using a decoupling strategy to garner higher attitudes.
The authors introduce BI fit as an important abstract dimension of brand image fit when facing co-branding decisions. Overall, our results demonstrate C-B identification moderates the effects of BI fit on co-branding attitudes. Counter-intuitively, the results suggest that low BI fit co-branding can also generate higher attitudes depending on consumers’ level of brand identification. Moreover, marketers must also be wary of how consumers cope with co-branding, as coping explains the underlying mechanism of how consumers deal with high or low perceived BI fit. Specifically, our findings suggest that consumer coping moderates the relationship between perceived BI fit and co-branding attitudes.
The authors thank the Associate Editor, three anonymous reviewers, Kaiyu Wang, Chris Janiszewski and Dan King for their helpful comments.
Xiao, N. and Hwan (Mark) Lee, S. (2014), "Brand identity fit in co-branding: The moderating role of C-B identification and consumer coping", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 No. 7/8, pp. 1239-1254. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-02-2012-0075Download as .RIS
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