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    Title: BRAND EXTENSIONS: WHEN THE HEAD IS HIDDEN: A LINGUISTIC PERSPECTIVE ON COMPOSITE BRAND EXTENSIONS
    Authors: Tsai, Meng-Chun;Bei, Lien-Ti;Monroe, Kent B.;Lou, Yung-Chien
    蔡孟君;別蓮蒂;樓永堅
    Contributors: 企管系
    Date: 2011
    Issue Date: 2015-09-02 14:50:38 (UTC+8)
    Abstract: Composite branding extensions, wherein two brands ally themselves to create a composite brand name and enter a different product category, have become a common way to introduce new products. Most brand alliance strategy researchers have emphasized that the selection of the best partner can enhance consumers' evaluations of the co-branded product or the brands themselves. However, an important marketing issue once the alliance has been formed and the new product developed is how to communicate the composite brand to consumers with an expression in advertising and packaging. Previous researchers proposed a model, which is based on a linguistic theory of composite concept formation, to demonstrate how consumers interpret the expressions of a composite brand extension. For example, when consumers are exposed to the expression "Slim-Fast chocolate cake-mix by Godiva, they will combine chocolate and cake-mix to a single unit first, and then connect this new concept with Slim-Fast to form a greater unit. Finally, the new concept and the preposition phrase "by Godiva" will be linked to create a whole new meaning. In this example, Slim-fast was called the "head brand," and Godiva was named the "modifier brand." According to this model, the product will be associated closer with the head brand than the modifier brand. However, can this model also explain the composite brand formation process in consumers' minds when they are exposed to other language or expressions that differed from those in previous research? It should be noted that the existence of the head brand in a composite brand expression was never proved, though the linguistic theory seems to have been adapted in this context correctly. Previous researchers used the empirical results of the association between each brand and the extension product to determine the head brand in a composite brand expression. That is, the brand perceived to be associated closer with the extension product was assigned to be the head brand. This procedure may not only violate the linguistic theory, the perceived association may also be influenced by relative brand familiarity, likability, or perceived extendibility. To clarify the situation, we argue that the head brand and the modifier brand should be assigned theoretically by their respective locations in the expressions. In study 1 we created two Chinese expressions of composite branding extensions to demonstrate the theory. The head brand and modifier brand were assigned according to their respective locations in the expressions. Surprisingly, the results show a completely opposite pattern in that the extension product was perceived to be associated closer with the modifier brand than the head brand! In the expression "Slim-Fast chocolate cake-mix by Godiva" which was used in previous research, the head brand is also located in the initial position of the expression. In our expressions (e.g., "Bomy Pringles assorted fruit cornflakes"), the modifier brand was in the initial position of the expression and exhibited stronger association with the product than the head brand. A reasonable question is: Does the head brand or the modifier brand really exist in consumers' minds when they are exposed to a composite brand expression? Or does the association between one brand and the extension product in an alliance primarily come from the initial location in an expression? In study 2 we illustrated the underlying language structure of composite brand expressions in consumers' minds by asking participants to choose a pause point in the expression that they had seen. Take the expression "Bomy Pringles assorted fruit cornflakes" for example, if a participant paused between two brands in the expression, it could be inferred that the brand appearing after the initial brand is the head brand because it was connected with the product first. However, if the two brands in an expression were combined first, the participants would pause before the extension product. It means there was not a head brand in their minds because the product was separated from those two brands in the initial combination. The results show that the head brand did exist in most cases. In the current research, we found that the extension product was perceived to be associated closer with the modifier brand in the initial position of our expressions than the head brand, though the head brand did exist in most cases. The opposite results of the present and previ ous research may come from the different expressions used in the experiments. In the expressions of previous research (e.g., "Slim-Fast chocolate cake mix by Godiva"), the head brand was also located in the initial position. As a result, the impact of the head brand was strengthened by its location. However, in our expressions, the head brand was "hidden" and no longer stood in front of its partner or the product. Hence the competition between the head brand and the modifier brand, which was in the initial position of these expressions, occurred. This may be the potential reason that we found that the modifier brand in the initial position of the expression exhibited higher association with the extension product. Based on the results of the current research, to be the head brand will not increase the perceived association between one brand and the co-branded product, even if the head brand is connected with the product first in consumers' concept formation process. If a brand would like to be perceived closer with the co-branded product, it should always stand ahead in the expression.
    Relation: AMA Summer Educators' Conference Proceedings, 22, 446-447
    Data Type: conference
    Appears in Collections:[Department of Business Administation ] Proceedings

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