So, you've got a great brand and a dynamite product or service that you offer to the universe.

What's next for you? A brand extension, of course.

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Brand extensions into new categories fail about 83-84% of the time, research shows. So, considering the dollars and other resources it takes to simply launch even the most seemingly "can't lose" extensions, you really must lock down your brand extension marketing strategy.

Many industries undergoing rapid transformation (like healthcare, in which I work) are considering brand extensions. Having an airtight business case before making a move goes without saying.

The strategy team must consider a variety of factors for launching the brand extension, including market readiness, potential cannibalism or dilution of existing products, and the level of customer engagement with the parent brand. Those are essential issues that demand extensive data analysis.

A "gut check" is imperative as well. Even if the data checks out, does it make sense in the consumer's mind or will it be ignored, or worse, panned? Virgin Hotels makes absolute sense, but Virgin water purifiers? The connections aren't clear. Similarly, the jury's still out on Paula Deen's furniture line priced higher than a million butter sticks stacked together.

Also consider the case for bringing added value to an existing, loyal market.

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Susan Solomon is a healthcare marketing vice-president in Southern California and a marketing instructor at four universities. She was a Fulbright scholar and she has written extensively on marketing, branding, and social media for more than a decade.

LinkedIn: Susan Solomon