Pushed into a Crowd: Repositioning Costs, Resources, and Competition in the RTE Cereal Industry

43 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2019 Last revised: 28 Aug 2020

See all articles by Young Hou

Young Hou

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Dennis Yao

Harvard University - Business School (HBS); University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department

Date Written: May 22, 2020

Abstract

This paper exploits a natural experiment involving self-regulation in the ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereal industry to evaluate how firms respond to entry in light of changes in competition and to estimate the value of brand equity as products are re-positioned. Self-regulation led to a crowding of the product space by forcing differentiated products to become more similar. Among other things we find that products constrained by regulation perform relatively worse than unconstrained products, brand equity specific to a product is tightly linked to existing product positions and does not transfer well to new positions, and that when competition increases, firms reposition to new segments and increase investments on product differentiation. The paper offers a performance based assessment of repositioning and to our knowledge offers the first empirical analysis in the strategy literature that measures in performance terms how repositioning changes the value of brand equity.

Keywords: self-regulation, positioning, resources, competitive dynamics, non-market strategy

Suggested Citation

Hou, Young and Yao, Dennis, Pushed into a Crowd: Repositioning Costs, Resources, and Competition in the RTE Cereal Industry (May 22, 2020). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 20-014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3431311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3431311

Young Hou

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Dennis Yao (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States
215-898-3019 (Phone)

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