Riding Coattails: When Co-Branding Helps versus Hurts Less-Known Brands

Riding Coattails: When Co-Branding Helps versus Hurts Less-Known Brands, Marcus Cunha Jr., Mark R. Forehand, and Justin W. Angle, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 41, No. 5 (February 2015), pp. 1284-1300

Abstract

New brands often partner with well-known brands under the assumption that they will benefit from the awareness and positive associations that well-known brands yield. However, this associations-transfer explanation may not predict co-branding results when the expected benefits of the co-branded product are presented simultaneously with the co-branding information. In this case, the results of co-branding instead follow the predictions of adaptive-learning theory which posits that consumers may differentially associate each brand with the outcome as a result of cue interaction effects. Three experiments show that the presence of a well-known brand can weaken or strengthen the association between the less-known brand and the co-branding outcome depending on the timing of the presentation of product benefit information. When this information was presented simultaneously with co-branding information (at a delay after co-branding information), the presence of a well-known brand weakened (strengthened) the association of the less-known brand with the outcome and thereby lowered (improved) evaluation of the less-known brand.