Context effects in product line extensions: Context is not destiny

Research on brand extensions has mainly focused on the similarity between the extension and the core brand as a determinant of assimilation of the extension to the core brand. The studies reported here (1) investigate how the evaluation of an extension can be influenced by means other than actual product similarity and (2) emphasize the role of contrast effects in the evaluation of brand extensions. Two experiments (with college students in the US and Germany, respectively) illustrate that the use of brand information in evaluations of a brand extension can be influenced by superficial characteristics of the extension that are under marketers' control, such as its name. In Exp 1, a compact car manufactured by a sports car company received a more sports-car-typical evaluation when its name reflected the continuation rather than discontinuation of previous models. Exp 2 suggests that name discontinuation elicits contrast to previous models. This contrast effect was more pronounced for nonexperts than for experts. The English version of the stimulus materials is appended. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)