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Article
Publication date: 4 February 2022

Lars Erling Olsen, Bendik Meling Samuelsen, Ioannis Pappas and Luk Warlop

Brand managers can choose among two fundamentally different brand positioning strategies. One is a broad brand strategy, focusing on many favorable brand associations. The…

1363

Abstract

Purpose

Brand managers can choose among two fundamentally different brand positioning strategies. One is a broad brand strategy, focusing on many favorable brand associations. The other is a narrow brand strategy, focusing on just a few and thus more mentally accessible associations. Building on associative memory theory, this paper aims to examine which of these brand positioning strategies performs better under dynamic market conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

Three experiments test the effect of brand positioning strategy on memory accessibility and competitive brand performance. Study 1 tests how brand strategy (broad vs narrow) affects defensive brand performance. Study 2 tests how broad vs narrow brands perform differently in a brand extension scenario (offensive brand performance). Study 3 uses real brands and situation-based attributes as stimuli in a defensive scenario.

Findings

The results show that a narrow brand positioning strategy leads to a competitive advantage. Narrow brands with fewer and more accessible associations resist new competitors more easily and have higher brand extension acceptance than do broad brands.

Research limitations/implications

The study shows how to use accessibility as evidence of associative strength and test how accessibility influences competitive brand performance in a controlled experimental context.

Practical implications

Brand managers would benefit from a narrow brand positioning strategy in accordance with the unique selling proposition (USP) school of thought used by many marketing practitioners.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates that narrow brand positioning performs better than broad brand positioning in dynamic markets, and to the knowledge is the first to do so.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 56 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

Radu Dimitriu, Luk Warlop and Bendik Meling Samuelsen

The purpose of this paper is to show that high similarity between a parent brand and an extension category can have a detrimental effect on how a brand extension is…

1349

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to show that high similarity between a parent brand and an extension category can have a detrimental effect on how a brand extension is perceived to perform on specific attributes. This happens because similarity influences the perceived positioning of a brand extension: lower similarity extensions can be perceived as “specialized” products, whereas high similarity extensions are perceived as “all-in-one” products not performing exceptionally well on any specific attribute.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors test the hypothesized effect through three experimental studies. The authors manipulate similarity both within subjects (Study 1a) and between subjects (Study 1b and Study 2). Further, the authors test the effect for specific attributes that are physical/concrete in nature (Study 1a and Study 1b) as well as attributes that are abstract/imagery-related in nature (Study 2).

Findings

High compared to low similarity improves perceptions of overall performance (i.e. performance across all attributes). But as expected, the authors also find that a high similarity brand extension is perceived to perform worse on the attribute on which a low similarity brand extension specializes, even when the parent brands of the extensions possess that attribute to the same extent. This perception of attribute performance carries on to influence brand extension purchase likelihood.

Practical implications

The degree of brand extension similarity has consequences for how brand extensions are perceived to be positioned in the marketplace. Although high similarity extensions receive positive evaluations, they might not be suitable when a company is trying to instil a perception of exceptional performance on a specific attribute.

Originality/value

The authors demonstrate a consequential exception to the marketing wisdom that brands should extend to similar categories. Although the degree of brand extension similarity has been repeatedly shown to have a positive effect on brand extension evaluation, the authors document a case when its effect is actually detrimental. This study’s focus on the dependent variable of perceived performance on specific attributes is novel in the brand extension literature.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 51 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 February 2012

Bendik Meling Samuelsen and Lars Erling Olsen

Brand managers must decide between extension and alliance strategies to grow their brands. This paper aims to describe testing of consumers' responses to two alternative…

2847

Abstract

Purpose

Brand managers must decide between extension and alliance strategies to grow their brands. This paper aims to describe testing of consumers' responses to two alternative brand growth strategies: an extension strategy whereby a brand moves into a new category alone, and an alliance strategy whereby the same brand moves into the new category as a branded ingredient in a brand already established in that category. How far to stretch a brand is yet another strategic choice facing the brand manager, and the current research tests, under short and long category‐stretch conditions, the attitudinal responses to extension and alliance strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds on the categorisation and incongruence literature. An experiment was employed to test the main hypotheses in the study.

Findings

Extensions outperform alliances, especially when the brand undertakes a long stretch, and short‐stretch strategies outperform long‐stretch strategies.

Practical implications

An extension strategy may be preferred to an alliance strategy, especially in situations in which the new growth opportunity requires a long stretch.

Originality/value

The paper compares, in the same study, the attitudinal effects of two important growth strategies widely employed by companies. Previous studies have assessed the performance of these two strategic options only separately.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 46 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

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