Research insights on Brand extensions

Academics have studied brand extensions closely. Here is a summary of some of their key research findings.

Successful brand extensions occur when the parent is been as having favorable associations and there is a perception of fit between the parent brand and the extension product.

There are many bases of fit: product related attributes and benefits, as well as non-product related attributes and benefits related to common usage situations or user types.

Depending on consumer knowledge of the categories, perceptions of fit may be based on technical or manufacturing commonalties or more surface considerations such as necessary or situational complementarily.

High quality brands stretch farther than average quality brands, although both types of brands have boundaries. A brand that is seen as prototypical of a product category can be difficult to extend outside the category.

Concrete attribute associations tend to be more difficult to extend than abstract benefit association. Consumers may transfer associations that are positive in the original product class but become negative in the extension context.

Consumers may infer negative associations about an extension, perhaps even based on other inferred positive associations.

It can be difficult to extend into a product a product class that is seen as easy to make. A successful extension can not only contribute to the parent brand image but also enable a brand to be extended even farther.

An unsuccessful extension hurts the parent brand only when there is a strong basis of fit between the two.

An unsuccessful extension does not prevent a firm from “backtracking� and introducing a more similar extension. Vertical extensions can be difficult and often require sub-branding strategies.

The most effective advertising strategy for an extension emphasizes information about the extension rather than reminders about the parent brand.