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EJM 44,7/8

Consumer responses to brand extensions: a comprehensive model ´ ´ Eva Martınez and Jose M. Pina
´ Facultad de Ciencias Economicas y Empresariales, The University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain Abstract
Purpose – This paper aims to understand the reciprocal spill-over effects of brand extensions by testing a comprehensive model that gathers both the brand extension evaluation process and the later influence on brand image. Design/methodology/approach – Data were obtained from 699 face-to-face interviews conducted in Spain. Structural equation modelling was used to test the proposed hypotheses. Findings – The results indicate that brand extensions have feedback effects on brand image depending on the attitude toward the new product and perceived image fit. Consumer attitude depends, in turn, on initial brand associations, perceived category fit, perceived image fit and consumer innovativeness. Brand familiarity also shows indirect effects. Research limitations/implications – The model should be tested with extensions of the same (line extensions) or different categories. It is also necessary to analyse non-fictitious products, and to take different moderating effects into account. Practical implications – The results suggest how to protect the brand image from unsuitable extension strategies. The paper shows what kind of perceived fit is more important for consumers as well as the direct and indirect role of several variables. Originality/value – The paper extends previous research by proposing a complete framework that considers the factors that influence either the attitude to the extension or the attitude to the extended brand. Keywords Brand extensions, Brand image, Brand equity, Consumer behaviour, Spain Paper type Research paper

Received January 2008 Revised October 2008 January 2009 Accepted February 2009

Introduction Brand extension is a strategy that many companies follow with the aim of benefiting from the brand knowledge achieved in the current markets (Aaker and Keller, 1990; Milberg et al., 1997). When a new product is marketed under a well-known brand name, failure rates and marketing costs are reduced (Milewicz and Herbig, 1994; Keller, 2003). Keller (2003) states that more than 80 per cent of firms resort to brand extensions as a way of marketing goods and services. The support that the brand gives to the new product often leads to a change in the brand image associations. Both the affection and the specific knowledge associated with the brand and the new product are interchanged in the consumers’ mind (Czellar, 2003). European Journal of Marketing Vol. 44 No. 7/8, 2010 pp. 1182-1205 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0309-0566 DOI 10.1108/03090561011047580

The authors would like to thank the following sources for their financial help: CICYT (Ref: ´ SEJ2005-02315) and Government of Aragon (“GENERES”, Ref.S-09; “PM0262/2006”). They also gratefully acknowledge the constructive comments of the three anonymous EJM reviewers.

This feedback process can increase the memory and strength of brand associations (Morrin, 1999; Aaker, 2002) and, thus, improve the positioning of the brand (Park et al., 1986). Nevertheless, several authors indicate that the dilution of current beliefs is more likely (Tauber, 1988; Ries and Trout, 1993; John et al., 1998). This dilution effect can take place even though the extension is not related to negative information (Morrin, 1999; ´ Ahluwalia and Gurhan-Canli, 2000; Martınez and Pina, 2003). Virgin, for instance, is a company that has grown through extensions into the audiovisual sector, retailing, alcoholic drinks, passenger transport (by railway and air) and space tourism, among others. However, market research studies suggest that customers’ perceptions of the Virgin brand mainly depend on the performance of the airline, which implies a constant threat...
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