MEASURING CROSS-CATEGORY BRAND ALLIANCE PERFORMANCE - A TRIADIC PERSPECTIVE

This source preferred by Elvira Bolat

Authors: Akcay, E.E., Kooli, K. and Bolat, E.

Editors: Kooli, K., Bolat, E. and Sarkici, I.

Start date: 20 March 2015

This study focuses on the transnational cross-category brand alliances and attempts to develop measures of performance for the cross-category brand alliances. The research is conducted with a triadic perspective which investigates both business-to-business and business-to-consumer relations.

Companies use brand extensions, line extensions and different product strategies in order to decrease the risk of brand development and increase market share (Bluemelhuber et al.2007; Smarandescu et al. 2013; Uggla and Asberg 2010). Mundt et al. (2006) points that brands have two major marketing strategies for market share growth: the brand can improve the revenue share of existing consumers or they can attract new customers from the market which are already buying other brands. Instead of extensions within the brand family, companies turn to brand alliances which are defined as “the short or long term association or combination of two or more individual brands, products and/or other distinctive proprietary assets” (Abratt and Motlana 2002, p. 43). Different than new brand introduction or brand extensions, there are various benefits of brand alliances like quality and image endorsements and brand association partnership for new products (Li and He 2013). Brand alliances are increasingly investigated by the researchers (Lambert and Enz 2012; Smarendescu et al. 2013; Li and He 2013; Uggla and Asberg 2010; Taek Yi et al. 2010; Cavazos and Varadarajan 2012) because of their competitive advantage potential, complexity and variety of branding considerations. There are articles focusing on the evaluation of brand alliances according to brand order and consumer ethnocentrism (Li and He 2013), brand familiarity, brand fit and country of origin fit (Bluemelhuber et al. 2007), manager’s intentions toward the alliance (Cavazos and Varadarajan 2012), and relational conflicts between alliance partners (Taek Yi et al. 2010). However, these articles do not attempt to develop performance measures for the brand alliance. Brand alliance can be in the form of co-branding, ingredient branding, brand collaboration, co-marketing alliances (Ahn et al. 2009) or basic advertising alliances (Bluemelhuber et al. 2007) and cross-category advertising brand alliances (Smarendescu et al. 2013). Ahn et al. (2009) investigates the harmony in the co-marketing alliances between heterogeneous industries. They point that co-operation of two equal and independent brands in a co-marketing alliance is different than the usual brand extension or alliance. The alliance between different industry brands gives the chance to enhance the brand image, brand awareness and commercial success of the companies. The transnational co-marketing alliances between global and local companies can be used to increase opportunities for global brands in local markets while they provide the local companies access to technology and foreign investment. In addition to expected benefits such as quality signal, transnational brand alliances help the international brands to enter new markets easier (Li and He 2013). Despite the prospects of success, choice of wrong partner can lead to negative association, misunderstanding and even corrosion of original brand image (Ahn et al. 2009). The alliance strategy should be executed carefully to avoid hurting brands (Smarendescu et al. 2013) Cross-category advertising alliances can also be used for introducing new brands (Samu et al. 1999). Samu et al. (1999) claim that the success of cross-category advertising alliance for brand introduction depends on the compliance between cross-category products, the form of differentiation strategy and the form of advertisement processing strategy. They used associative network memory model to represent how joint advertising is associated in memory, the way it is processed by consumers and the impacts on main brand measures. Smarandescu et al. (2013) investigate the type of advertising brand alliances that connects brands from different product categories for a shared goal. They note that cross-category alliances provide successful ways for brand repositioning and enhance the consumer perceptions for brand attributes. Smarandescu et al. (2013) show that attribute knowledge and individual differences moderate the brand attribute evaluations in a cross-category advertising brand alliance (Smarendescu et al. 2013). Moreover, according to Bluemelhuber et al. (2007) consumer attitude toward cross-border brand alliance is influenced by country of origin fit varying on the conditions of brand familiarity. Bluemelhuber et al. (2007) claim that when consumers are not familiar with one of the brand in the alliance, country of origin fit impact is stronger than brand fit impact. In the opposite condition when the consumers are familiar with the brands, the brand fit impact is stronger than country of origin impact. Li and He (2013) also investigate the evaluation of transnational brand alliances between a foreign and local brand. Their findings show that consumer ethnocentrism and brand order in the alliance moderate the impact of consumer attitude towards the brand alliance. They also point that future research should examine their model on real transnational brand alliances for external validity and realism (Li and He 2013).

Due to numerous years of the professional experience in the area of the cross-category brand alliances, the researcher came to a conclusion that the practice calls to establish the measures of performance for the cross-category brand alliances. Although the marketing managers form brand alliances with other companies to increase their brand equity and market share as stated in literature (Bluemelhuber et al.2007; Smarandescu et al. 2013), they do not have the measures of success to identify the performance of the brand alliance. In the landmark article about developing measures for marketing, Churchill (1979) points that developing better measures for marketers is a critical factor for the evolution of knowledge in marketing. The aim of the research is to identify the intentions and underlying reasons of marketing managers to form cross-category brand alliances and to build the measures of performance for the brand alliance. To date the researcher has identified the following research objectives for this study: (1) to understand the intentions of building cross-category brand alliances from the marketing managers’ point of view; (2) to develop a framework to build measures of performance and test the framework by a survey on customers who experienced the brand alliances that are examined in the case studies; (3) to develop recommendations for marketing managers for future brand alliances.

To investigate and develop the measures of performance for the transnational cross-category brand alliances the researcher selected three cross-category international brand alliance examples in Turkey as cases for this study. Yin (2013) states that the evidence from multiple cases is accepted as more convincing which makes overall research more robust. Multinational brands from different categories are chosen as the main partner in the brand alliances in order to examine the moderating impact of country of origin on brand alliance performance (Bluemelhuber et al. 2007) for the universality and external validity of examples. In order to develop measures of performance the researcher uses mixed method approach that is suggested by Churchill (1979) to develop robust marketing concepts and their measures. To understand the intentions of building cross-category brand alliances the researcher will conduct face to face indepth interviews with marketing managers of the brands. To analyse, consolidate and frame interview results the researcher will utilise NVivo software and the framework is going to be developed based on the qualitative analysis. The measures of variables in the framework will be constructed by adapting the past literature on brand alliances and the items developed from the analysis of the interviews. As a result, an online questionnaire will be developed for the completion by consumers who were exposed to cross-category brand alliances. The results will be examined by using SPSS and the model fit will be tested using AMOS software. This research contributes to the existing scholarly work by examining real examples of cross-category international brand alliances and attempting to develop performance measures which are tested on consumers who experienced the alliance examples. The measures that are developed in the research can be beneficial for the marketing managers to understand the success of their brand strategy and help in the choice of their brand partners – key contribution to practice as well as academic literature.

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