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«of the AM’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation SIG INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SESSIONS Sessions chairs The main function of a session chair is to ...»

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Methodology/Approach The objective of the first study was to demonstrate how an intermediate brand extension could be used to broaden parent brand associations and thus increase the likelihood of acceptance for a more distant target extension. The parent brand was a fictitious brand of suits and dress suits, and the intermediate and target extensions (levels of consistency to parent brand on ten-point scale) were dress shoes (8.35) and running shoes (2.21) – consistency scores between intermediate and target brand extensions was 5.81. Half of the respondents were not exposed to the intermediate extension.

Findings As hypothesized, attitudes toward the target extension were more favorable for participants that had been exposed to an intermediate extension (4.12 versus 2.85; t = 25.11, p.001).

Interestingly, the results also revealed a significant difference in attitudes toward the parent brand. Participants that were only exposed to the parent brand and the dissimilar target brand showed a much larger drop in favorability ratings for the parent brand (4.93 to 3.99; t = 4.89, p.001) after exposure to the target brand than participants that were exposed to an intermediate brand extension (4.86 to 4.58; ns.). The first study demonstrated that brand extensions may be used to broaden the parent brand.

Methodology/Approach Study 2 The objectives for the second study were to provide initial evidence of how respondents update the parent brand image through multiple extensions, and to identify which type of extension basis is more likely to generate extension success through multiple extensions.

Participants received product and positioning information in three stages: first the parent brand (fictitious), then the intermediate brand extension, and finally a target brand extension.

In order to test the ease with which parent brand associations could be updated, one group of respondents was presented with a brand-benefit based extension strategy from parent brand to both extensions, while the other group was presented with a category-based extension strategy. The product categories and extension strategies were selected such that under the brand-benefit based extension strategy, the parent brand and both extensions could easily be grouped under the abstract concept ‘user-friendly’, while under the category extension strategy the three categories involved: cookware, food processor, and espresso machine – could not be easily stored into a single abstract category – and would thus require more effort to process.

Findings As expected the brand-benefit extension strategy resulted in a more favorable attitude towards the target extension than the product category extension strategy (F(1, 101) = 33.10, p.001). Planned contrasts showed that attitude towards the target extension was significantly more favorable for participants that had been exposed to a brand-benefit extension strategy than participants that had been exposed to a product-category extension strategy (MBenefit-Ex = 4.49 versus MCategory-Ex = 3.12; t101 = 5.75, p.001).

Planned contrasts of attitude to the parent brand revealed that participants that had been exposed to a brand-benefit extension strategy had a more favorable attitude towards the parent brand than participants that had been exposed to a product-category extension strategy (MBenefit-P = 4.72 versus MCategory-P = 3.61; t101 = 5.18, p.001).

To reveal the thought process underlying the attitude scores towards parent brand and target brand extension at stage three, mediation analysis using data collected on participants’ evaluations of the perceived relevance of the brand extension in terms of what they previously learned about the brand was used as a mediator between brand extension strategy (brand benefit versus product category) and attitude towards parent brand/target extension.

There was a significant indirect effect of extension strategy on attitude towards parent brand through perceived relevance of the extension, b =.345, BCa CI [.094,.722]. This represents a medium-sized effect, k2 =.145, 95% BCa CI [.043,.272]. There was also a significant indirect effect of extension strategy on attitude towards target extension through perceived relevance of brand extension, b =.474, BCa CI [.209,.927], and this effect was relatively large k2 =.178, 95% BCa CI [.078,.317]. This evidence suggests that evaluations of both brand extensions and parent brand are at least partially based on the ease with which the relevance of extension-relevant associations can be recalled.

Implications The results of studies 1 and 2 provide evidence that the associations linked to a parent brand are updated each time the brand is extended. These experiments also provide initial evidence that using an extension strategy that allows consumers to store and maintain information about the brand with minimal effort is advantageous. The next study will involve confirming the learning advantage for abstract versus concrete benefit associations, and thus extend the literature on brand extensions by utilizing the principle that abstract concepts are more complex and are associated with a wider variety of situations (Barsalou & Wiemer-Hastings

2005) to create broad brands that are easier to store in memory. The practical implications of this research is to increase the extension potential of existing brands with less risk of weakening core brand associations.

Keywords: brand extensions, broad brands, abstract associations References Barsalou, L.W. & Wiemer-Hastings, K., 2005. Situating abstract concepts. In Grounding

Cognition: The role of perception and action in memory, language, and thought. New York:

Cambridge University Press, pp. 129–163.

Broniarczyk, S.M. & Alba, J.W., 1994. The Importance of the Brand in Brand Extension.

Journal of Marketing Research (JMR), 31(2), pp.214–228.

Herr, P.M., Farquhar, P.H. & Fazio, R.H., 1996. Impact of Dominance and Relatedness on Brand Extensions. Journal of Consumer Psychology (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), 5(2), p.135.

Janiszewski, C. & Van Osselaer, S.M.J., 2000. A Connectionist Model of Brand--Quality Associations. Journal of Marketing Research (JMR), 37(3), pp.331–350.

Keller, K.L., 1993. Conceptualizing, Measuring, Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity.

Journal of Marketing, 57(1), pp.1–22.

Keller, K.L., 2013. Strategic brand management: building, measuring, and managing brand equity, Boston: Pearson.

Meyvis, T. & Janiszewski, C., 2004. When Are Broader Brands Stronger Brands? An Accessibility Perspective on the Success of Brand Extensions. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(2), pp.346–357.

Ng, S. & Houston, M.J., 2006. Exemplars or Beliefs? The Impact of Self-View on the Nature and Relative Influence of Brand Associations. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(4), pp.519– 529.

Park, C.W., Jaworski, B.J. & Maclnnis, D.J., 1986. Strategic Brand Concept-Image Management. Journal of Marketing, 50(4), pp.135–145.

Park, C.W., Milberg, S. & Lawson, R., 1991. Evaluation of Brand Extensions: The Role of Product Feature Similarity and Brand Concept Consistency. Journal of Consumer Research, 18(2), pp.185–193.

Samuelsen, B.M. & Olsen, L.E., 2012. The attitudinal response to alternative brand growth strategies. European Journal of Marketing, 46(1/2), pp.177–191.

From community addicts to disengaged: The influence of saturation on consumer-brand relationship Ramadan, Zahy Abosag, Ibrahim Purpose Establishing and maintaining close interpersonal relationships are an essential need for human (Maslow, 1943). However, close interpersonal relationships are not limited to the type of dyadic relationships in which people choose to engage with and maintain. Brand relationship literature has shown that people choose to enter relationships with brands just as they do with other people (Fournier, 1998; Zayer and Neier, 2011). Consumer behavior theories have also shown that people form self-brand connections (Escalas and Bettman, 2005). Brands are found to help customers articulate their identities (Aaker, 1996) and form relationships with them (Reimann and Aron, 2009).

Over the last decade, organisations are increasingly using social media as an integrated marketing communication to connect and establish strong brand relationships with their consumers (Mukherjee and Balmer, 2007-8; Mangold and Faulds, 2009). Through this, online brand communities became crucial in enhancing brand relationship with consumers (e.g., Owyang et al., 2009; Qualman, 2010; Lim and Melewar, 2011). In 2011, approximately 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies were using social media to connect with consumers who themselves are becoming reliant on the social platform to learn and interact with brands (Naylor, Lamberton, and West, 2012).

Social media today is highly sought after by marketers as it is being hailed as the turning point in how brands will be marketed (Qualman, 2010; Tuten and Solomon, 2012) and how brand relationships will be built, enhanced and managed (Zaglia, 2013). The link of social media to the social capital of people (Ellison et al., 2007) is the main marketing value that organisations are after (Qualman, 2010). Nonetheless, this same link can pose a key potential risk to organisations and their brands (Hoffman and Fodor, 2010). A careful evaluation needs to be done on the risks this social platform presents as there appears to be evidence that people are becoming overwhelmed with the fast paced society and its faster information production and distribution (Shenk, 2003). A hyper-production and hyper-distribution mechanism is surpassing today human processing ability leading to information overload (Shenk, 2003), social complexity (Dunbar, 1988), and social media overload (Safko and Brake, 2009). The consequences of these on brands and brand relationships are yet to be examined in the literature.

It is only very recently that few scholars have started to look at the negative variables that may undermine brand relationship (Fournier and Alvarez, 2013). Despite the increasing number of studies on brand relationship on online brand communities, there seems to be no attention paid to the growing serious challenge arising from customers’ saturation in online brand communities that impose direct risk to brand relationship and value creation in these communities.

In the social psychology literature, saturation refers to “the communication overload experienced by group members in centralised positions in communications networks” (Shaw, 1976, p. 148). Saturated members of online brand communities have to compensate for the side effect of the “message dense” online community by filtering and blocking the information source as well as investing less time in it (Shenk, 2003, p.395) resulting in less engagement with the brand and driving potentially members to switch communities. The literature on saturation has been mainly developed from information system literature.

However, given the lack of understanding in the marketing literature and the serious effect of saturation on customers experience in online brand communities, there is an urgency to provide overarching understanding of the effect of saturation on brand relationship.

The paper examines the effect of consumers’ proneness in joining online brand communities on their brand and community relationship in a social networking environment.

Methodology A mixed-method approach was used to conduct the research. In study number one, a qualitative research methodology was used based on semi-structured 40 face-to-face interviews with open-ended questions. The interviews were conducted in the Middle East and were recorded and transcribed into NVivo 8. The questionnaire spanned across 40 questions with the average interview taking up to 30 minutes Using the finding from study one and further conceptualisation from the literature, the second phase generated a conceptual model which was tested on 175 respondents using a well known official online brand community (Nokia) in Facebook.

Findings The first exploratory study identified proneness in joining online brand communities as being a key saturation variable affecting brand-consumer engagement and relationship over social networks. In the second test phase, using LISREL 8.8 to estimate the model, the findings show significant effect of saturation on consumer-brand relationship. The estimation of the model shows a good fit with X²=242(111), P-Value = 0.00, NNFI=0.971, CFI= 0.977, RMSEA =.0782.

Figure 1 - The Conceptual Model Figure 2 – Model Estimation The study shows that as members of the Nokia online community kept on joining new online communities on Facebook, the level of the community commitment decreased. Through this, the attention span and time availability of consumers start limiting the dedication of consumers to one or selected few online communities as also noted in the qualitative research stage by the following respondent;

“The first group you enter you’re happy with but after some while when you enter several communities it become monotonous. It reduces your involvement.” (Age nondisclosed, female) Through this, the study found empirical proof that the proneness saturation variable affected the brand-consumer relationship model.

Theoretical implications Proneness to joining other online communities had been discussed in the literature not as a saturation variable but as a motive to engage in online communities, mainly to access information (e.g. Wellman et al., 1996; Nonnecke et al., 2004). With the exception of Power and Wren (2011) who viewed the overall social media as a source for channel saturation based on the many social media channels people join, proneness in joining online communities within one form of social media (hereby social networking sites) was not regarded as a negative variable in brand relationship in the literature.

This study’s contributions focused on developing an integrated framework addressing the saturation effects on consumers’ online experience in online brand communities originating from the extensive use of this medium in social networking sites. The study integrated the mix of the online brand-consumer encounter in social networking sites and brand relationship. The saturation effect of proneness in joining online brand communities was added to the overall model to test the hypotheses that in a social network context, consumers’ experience in an online brand community (Nokia) and subsequently their relationship with the brand are negatively affected.

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