'Pioneer' products may not always be the best

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Washington, Jan 24 : It's not always best to be first, at least not in the case of releasing a new products by an existing brand, say researchers.

Researchers from Purdue, Indiana University, and UConn examined out consumers evaluated the release of new products, known as "brand extension', and found that many products might actually benefit from having competition, entering the market as followers rather than as the first of its kind.

The researchers said that when a brand releases a product that has never been offered by any brand before, it is the 'pioneer' product, and consumers can't evaluate it in the same way they evaluate existing products.

Other brands that then release similar products are termed 'followers'.

The research team revealed how to predict when a follower might actually enjoy more success than the pioneer, even though pioneer products often outperform follower products in the long term.

"Previous brand extension research . . . has focused on a static view, not a dynamic context when brand extensions enter a category sequentially. This dynamic view is more representative of how extensions are evaluated, reflecting a context-dependent perceptual model of extension evaluation based on the presence or absence of comparison brands," the researchers said.

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pioneer products were generally evaluated by consumers based on their impressions of the parent brand. However, once a type of product is already on the market, subsequent entries are judged more on the basis of "fit" with the parent brand, that is, whether it makes sense that this brand is releasing this type of product.

"The implications of the findings, within the parameters of our study context, are that low fit brands are best served to enter the market as a pioneer - if the low fit brand is a later entrant, consumer evaluation of their brand extension is impacted negatively," the researchers said.

"High fit brands, on the other hand, should not be deterred by the presence of a lower fit pioneer as the presence of a comparison brand of lower fit improves the evaluation of their extension relative to the singular evaluation context when entering as a pioneer," they added.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

ANI

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