When companies plan to build multi-category brands by adding new products to their product lines, two questions loom large: (1) whether and (2) when brand extensions perceived as distant (comparatively dissimilar) from the company’s existing core line of products should be introduced. Since many real-world firms have introduced distant brand extensions, this paper focuses on the second question: when the company should introduce a distant extension within a series of other closer extensions — a decision for which there is little research-based guidance for managers. Building on theories of mental categorization, the authors argue that early (vs. late) introductions of distant brand extensions can be more beneficial for the brand. Three studies support this conclusion, demonstrating that early (vs. late) introductions of distant extensions can result in more positive final brand attitudes; that is, attitudes held after all the extensions have been introduced. This effect is driven by how easily the distant extension is integrated into consumers’ brand concepts and is moderated by overall brand positioning. Importantly, this effect on final brand attitudes is shown to influence behavioral measures of product preference and brand engagement.
Parker, Jeffrey, Kevin Lane Keller, Donald Lehmann, and Martin Schleicher. "Building a Multi-Category Brand: When Should Distant Brand Extensions Be Introduced?" Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 46, no. 2 (March 2018): 300-316.
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