If you’re trying to get consumers to abandon a lower-cost, low-status house brand in a favor of a premium brand with a higher price point — even though that brand isn’t a natural fit in the product category — you may have greater success if you use a picture of the product in your marketing efforts, new research suggests. You'll increase your chances of upselling, the research found, if consumers are also allowed to compare brands rather than judge each brand separately.
Tom Meyvis of the NYU Stern School of Business, Kelly Goldsmith of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Ravi Dhar of the Yale School of Management explored what happens when a high-status brand launches a new product in a category that isn’t a natural fit in research that will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Marketing Research.
The research showed that visual cues such as product pictures shift consumers' focus to the quality of the parent brand and away from the fit of the brand when evaluating a brand's new product offering, while brand comparisons shift consumers' preference from lower status brands toward higher status brands, even if they aren't a good fit.
Market research studies that mimic a typical shopping environment with visual information and competing brands will reveal greater potential for high-status brand extensions, the research found.
"New brand extensions are often tested in an abstract setting (e.g., what would you think of a Crest facial moisturizer?)," said Meyvis. "In this market research context, consumers place too much emphasis on the fit between the brand and the product. As a result, companies may underestimate the value and opportunity of high-status brands extending into a wide variety of product categories."
Meyvis, Goldsmith and Dhar also recommended tactics for store managers and retailers to promote high- or lower-quality brands in their shopping environments.
"A high-quality brand that is introducing a product in a category that isn’t a good fit would benefit from marketing efforts that encourage brand comparisons," said Goldsmith. "Conversely, a lower-quality brand that is introducing a new extension may benefit from shopping environments where the product is not being compared to other brands (e.g., by placing it in an end-of-aisle display)."
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