Manufacturers often emphasize the technological evel of a parent product category (e.g., Saab aircraft engine), presumably to influence consumer evaluations of an extension product (Saab automobile). The article examines whether an extension to a lower level of technology (e.g., Motorola's extension from high-end workstations to desktop computers) is evaluated differently than an extension to a higher level of technology (e.g., Canon's extension from 35-mm cameras to camcorders). Results of an experiment suggest that the quality of an extension is judged more favorably when the parent product category is at a higher technological level than when it is at a lower level. However, the difference in quality judgments attributable to the direction of the brand extension is found to be stronger when the technologies associated with the parent and extension categories are perceived as similar (e.g., camcorder and cameras) than when they are perceived as dissimilar (e.g., television sets and personal computers) and when there is greater variation in auality across the current brands in the extension product class. In addition, the study shows that extending a brand to a product category at a different technological level asymmetrically influences consumers' subsequent auality evaluations of the parent brand (i.e., a reciprocity effect). Extending to a higher technological level improves the parent brand's evaluations, but extending to a lower technological level does not have a significant negative feedback effect on the parent brand. Implications of the findings are discussed and directions for future research are suggested. J BUSN RES 1999. 46.31-43.
ASJC Scopus subject areas