The Brand Extension Evaluation Process: Insights From the Continuum Model of Impression Formation

Ashwani Monga, University of Minnesota
Michael J. Houston, University of Minnesota
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Different perspectives exist about the brand extension evaluation process. On the one hand, Aaker and Keller (1990), Boush and Loken (1991) and Park, Milberg and Lawson (1991) propose affect transfer from parent brand to extension as the dominant process, which occurs in the presence of adequate fit (Boush and Loken 1991 also invoke piecemeal processing for moderate typicality). On the other hand, Broniarczyk and Alba (1994) do not acknowledge affect transfer as the dominant process. They believe that brand affect is only a cue and if another cue is found to be more diagnostic, the latter will be used instead. They propose brand-specific associations as the cues that can dominate the effects of brand affect, as well as category similarity (brand-specific associations are attributes/ benefits that differentiate a brand from its competitors). Even within the affect transfer approaches, different bases of fit are used- complement, substitute, and transfer by Aaker and Keller (1990), similarity/typicality by Boush and Loken (1991) and product feature similarity plus brand concept consistency by Park et al (1991).
[ to cite ]:
Ashwani Monga and Michael J. Houston (2002) ,"The Brand Extension Evaluation Process: Insights From the Continuum Model of Impression Formation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 188-189.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Pages 188-189

THE BRAND EXTENSION EVALUATION PROCESS: INSIGHTS FROM THE CONTINUUM MODEL OF IMPRESSION FORMATION

Ashwani Monga, University of Minnesota

Michael J. Houston, University of Minnesota

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

Different perspectives exist about the brand extension evaluation process. On the one hand, Aaker and Keller (1990), Boush and Loken (1991) and Park, Milberg and Lawson (1991) propose affect transfer from parent brand to extension as the dominant process, which occurs in the presence of adequate fit (Boush and Loken 1991 also invoke piecemeal processing for moderate typicality). On the other hand, Broniarczyk and Alba (1994) do not acknowledge affect transfer as the dominant process. They believe that brand affect is only a cue and if another cue is found to be more diagnostic, the latter will be used instead. They propose brand-specific associations as the cues that can dominate the effects of brand affect, as well as category similarity (brand-specific associations are attributes/ benefits that differentiate a brand from its competitors). Even within the affect transfer approaches, different bases of fit are used- complement, substitute, and transfer by Aaker and Keller (1990), similarity/typicality by Boush and Loken (1991) and product feature similarity plus brand concept consistency by Park et al (1991).

This paper presents a theory of brand extension evaluation using an adaptation of the continuum model of impression formation (Fiske and Neuberg 1990; Fiske, Lin and Neuberg 1999). Several propositions are discussed and it is shown that researches like the ones mentioned above, can be easily accommodated within the same theoretical framework. The purpose of the theoretical unification is to amalgamate diverse perspectives and to guide future efforts aimed at understanding the extension evaluation process.

The continuum model was chosen not only because it offered the integrative perspective we were looking for, but also because its predecessor, Fiske and Pavelchak (1986), has strongly influenced brand extension evaluation research (e.g., Boush 1988; Boush and Loken 1991). Moreover, the continuum model has received extensive empirical support (see Fiske, Lin and Neuberg 1999) and is regarded as one of the most influential models of person perception (Petty and Wegener 1999, p-64).

Our discussion is focused on initial evaluations of extensions. Initial evaluation is based only on a) the name of the exension product category and b) information about the parent brand. Consumer response at this stage can help guide decisions on whether to launch the extension and subsequently, what marketing program to use (Keller and Aaker 1992). The propositions also presume that the brand extension will be initially categorized as an instance of the parent brand (Boush and Loken 1991; Park et al 1991).

The following propositions range from well-established ones like P-3, to novel ones like P-4. However, the strength of these propositions lies less in their individual predictions, and more in their coherence. These propositions, in conjunction with the conceptual framework, reveal that many existing extension evaluation findings can be viewed from a common perspective. In addition, we delineate a specific sequence of the brand extension evaluation process.

Proposition-1: When a consumer encounters a brand extension, some affect will be transferred directly from the parent brand to the extension, irrespective of what the extension product category is.

Proposition-2: Subsequent to initial categorization, the consumer gives attention to the brand extension if the brand is of relevance, if the extension is of relevance, or if the extension is highly inconsistent with respect to the brand category.

Proposition-3: The greater the consistency perceived (based on similarity of associations) between the extension and the parent brand, the greater is the affect transferred to the extension from the parent brand.

Proposition-4: When consistency (based on similarity of associations) between the parent brand and the extension is found to be inadequate, it will be judged at the subsequent levels (sub-brand/existing product). Once adequate consistency is achieved at some level, affect will be transferred accordingly (from sub-brand/existing product) to the extension.

Proposition-5: When the consumer does not find adequate consistencies between the extension and the parent brand/sub-brand/current product, and if he/she has sufficient time, resources and motivation available, he/she will do a piecemeal processing of the extension associations. These associations will be inferred from the brand associations.

Proposition-6: When the consumer is evaluating an extension, higher accuracy motivation will lead to a greater number of piecemeal thoughts. These thoughts will increase even more when there is inconsistency between the extension and the parent brand.

Proposition-7: While evaluating an extension, consumers will have a greater number of piecemeal thoughts when they have a lower personal need for structure, higher desire for control, higher need for cognition, or higher fear of invalidity.

Proposition-8: Consumers’ evaluation of a brand extension will be different depending on the time devoted to extension evaluation. However, after a certain period of time (when the consumer is satisfied with his/her assessment), it will stabilize

In providing an integrative theory of brand extension evaluation, we show that diverse researches are parts of a common framework. Some of these are discussed below.

Based on Keller’s (1993) conceptualization of brand knowledge, we propose that all the seemingly different fit measures of Aaker and Keller (1990), Boush and Loken (1991) and Park et al (1991) are based on the concept of similarity of associations. For instance, Aaker and Keller’s (1990) "complement" refers to similarity of usage associations whereas Boush and Loken’s (1991) "similarity" refers to similarity of product-related attribute associations. Therefore, these three researches are in the same part of the continuum and reflect affect transfer based on similarity of associations (Proposition-3).

We interpret Broniarczyk and Alba’s (1994) process of inferring benefits from the brand specific associations as piecemeal processing that is done only after the consumer has gone through the affect-transfer stages (Proposition-5). We argue that brand-affect and similarity are not simply cues that are used based on their diagnosticity (Broniarczyk and Alba 1994) but that they precede the process of judging relevance of brand-specific associations.

Overall, various extension evaluation researches are shown as easily accommodated within the same theoretical framework. In addition, a specific sequence of brand extension evaluation is suggested.

REFERENCES

Aaker, David A., and Kevin Lane Keller (1990), "Consumer Evaluations of Brand Extensions," Journal of Marketing, 54 (January), 27-41.

Barone, Michael J., Paul W. Miniard, and Jean B. Romeo (2000), "The Influence of Positive Mood on Brand Extension Evaluations," Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (March), 386-400.

Boush, David M.(1988), "A Categorization Model of Attitude Transfer and its Application to Brand Extension," Doctoral Dissertation, University of Minnesota.

Boush, David M., and Barbara Loken (1991), "A Process-Tracing Study of Brand Extension Evaluation," Journal of Marketing Research, 28 (February), 16-28.

Broniarczyk, Susan M. and Joseph W. Alba (1994), "The Importance of the Brand in Brand Extension," Journal of Marketing Research, 31 (May), 214-228.

Burger, J. M. (1992), Desire for Control: Personalilty, Social, and Clinical Perspectives, New York: Plenum.

Cacioppo, J. T., and Richard E. Petty (1982), "The Need for Cognition," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 116-131.

Fiske, Susan T. and Mark A. Pavelchak (1986), "Category-Based Versus Piecemeal-Based Affective Responses: Developments in Schema-Triggered Affect," in The Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: Foundations of Social Behavior, Richard M. Sorrentiono and E. Tory Higgins, eds., New York: Guilford Press, 167-203.

Fiske, Susan T. and Steven L. Neuberg (1990), "A Continuum of Impression Formation, From Category-Based to Individuating Processes: Influences of Information and Motivation on Attention and Interpretation," in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, M. P. Zanna ed., Nw York: Academic Press, 23, 1-74.

Fiske, Susan T., Monica Lin and Steven L. Neuberg (1999), "The Continuum Model: Ten Years Later," in Dual Process Theories in Social Cognition, Shelly Chaiken and Yaacov Trope eds., New York: Guilford Press, 231-254.

Keller, Kevin Lane, and David A. Aaker (1992), "The Effects of Sequential Introduction of Brand Extensions," Journal of Marketing Research, 24 (February), 35-50.

Keller, Kevin Lane (1993), "Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity," Journal of Marketing, 57 (January), 1-22.

Kirmani, Amna, Sanjay Sood, and Sheri Bridges (1999), "The Ownership Effect in Consumer Responses to Brand Line Stretches," Journal of Marketing, 63 (January), 88- 101.

Lane, Vicki R. (2000), "The Impact of Ad Repetition and Ad Content on Consumer Perceptions of Incongruent Extensions," Journal of Marketing, 64 (April), 80-91.

Meyers-Levy, Joan and Alice M. Tybout (1989), "Schema Congruity as a Basis for Product Evaluation," Journal of Consumer Research, 16 (June), 39-54.

Park, C. Whan, Sandra Milberg, and Robert Lawson (1991), "Evaluation of Brand Extensions: The Role of Product Feature Similarity and Brand Concept Consistency," Journal of Consumer Research, 18 (September), 185-193.

Petty, Richard E. and Duane T. Wegener (1999), "The Elaboration Likelihood Model: Current Status and Controversies," in Dual Process Theories in Social Cognition, Shelly Chaiken and Yaacov Trope eds., New York: Guilford Press, 41-72.

Thompson, M. M., M. E. Naccarato, and K. E. Parker (1989), "Assessing Cognitive Need: The Development of the Personal Need for Structure and Personal Fear of Invalidity Scales," Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Psychological Society, June, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

----------------------------------------