An exploratory study of consumer expertise and perceived fit in brand extensions
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Brand extensions have been an important area of research dominated by the study of the process of fit perception between the core brand and the extension. To our knowledge, how varying levels of consumer expertise with an extension affect extension evaluation are little understood and has not been attempted in the literature before. Thus this study is an early exploratory step in investigating the lack of consensus in the literature about the role of consumer expertise in the brand extension evaluation process. Specifically, we investigate how and why the level of consumer expertise determines the perceived fit between a parent brand and an extension category. Exploratory interviews were conducted among users of MP3 players who were presented with a hypothetical scenario of Intel launching MP3 players. The findings revealed that there were differences between how expert and novice users of MP3 players perceived a proposed Intel extension decision. The experts welcomed the idea and saw a 'fit' between Intel and MP3 players both at the brand-level and at the category-level. Novices on the other hand found the idea illogical and were unable to perceive a fit between the parent brand and the extension. These findings emphasize the importance of treating consumer expertise as a segmentation variable while planning brand-extension decisions.
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