Saving Face by Making Meaning: Consumers' Self-Serving Response to Brand Extensions

73 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2013

Date Written: January 1, 2010

Abstract

An ethnographic study of a brand community following the launch of the Porsche Cayenne SUV finds that brand extensions can negatively affect the value of their parent brands. By studying the collective response to brand extensions of existing consumers and by substituting a culturally situated and socialized view of consumers, I expose negative feedback effects which have been previously undervalued in existing branding theories. By tracing the processes by which brand extensions are dialectically negotiated in a brand community, I show that negative brand effects stem from consumers’ self-serving meaning-making activities. The research highlights three discourses in which consumers debate the legitimacy of users of the brand extension, the brand extension itself, and the post-extension parent brand. These discourses shift the locus of the brand's identity meanings within the brand hierarchy rendering the brand extension and the parent brand less attractive as identity markers and reducing brand equity.

Keywords: brand management, brand extensions, self/identity, brand community, consumer behavior, ethnography, netnography

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Avery, Jill J., Saving Face by Making Meaning: Consumers' Self-Serving Response to Brand Extensions (January 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2309417 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2309417

Jill J. Avery (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
6174958084 (Phone)

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