Existential Anxiety and Essentialism Explain Negative Reactions Toward Brand Extensions

Pelin Kesebir, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Ying-yi Hong, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Brands, to the extent they represent cultural values, provide an effective means of dealing with existential anxiety. Brand extensions may therefore evoke increased death anxiety, particularly for highly value representative brands and among essentialistic people—those who believe that there are stable and unchangeable underlying essences to entities. Study 1 showed that a combination of high essentialism and reminders of mortality leads to more negative reactions toward a brand extension scenario for a highly value representative brand. Study 2 revealed that antagonistic responses toward brand extensions are predicted by a three-way interaction of death thought accessibility, essentialism, and value representativeness.
[ to cite ]:
Pelin Kesebir and Ying-yi Hong (2009) ,"Existential Anxiety and Essentialism Explain Negative Reactions Toward Brand Extensions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1016-1016.