For companies such as Coca-Cola and Nike, the power of their brand names accounts for a lot of their success. Usually, we call this brand equity. However, sometimes, firms go too far in stretching their brands’ usage. Today, we look at brand dilution, extensions, and cannibalization.

Avoid Diminishing Brand Value: Brand Dilution, Extensions, and Cannibalization

Clifford Chi, writing for HubSpot, presents an excellent synopsis of these concepts.

Brand Dilution

“Brand dilution is when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in, like Reese’s Puff Cereal or Gerber’s baby clothes.”

For example, “Cadbury’s expansion into instant mashed potatoes created a new revenue stream and even generated more sales for them, but it damaged their upscale brand as a whole. This phenomena is called brand dilution. When Cadbury started producing low-end food products, like instant mashed potatoes, the association with the finest chocolates weakened.”

Brand Dilution, Extensions, and Cannibalization

Brand Extensions

“Companies leverage their brand awareness and equity to develop brand extensions that create new revenue streams. However, an unsuccessful brand extension, like Zippo’s perfume for women or Samsonite’s outerwear, can attach undesirable associations to their brand, weaken existing associations, and hurt established products’ perceived quality, which can all lead to brand dilution.”

“For instance, when Apple released the iPad, the original Macintosh’s sales decreased. But the iPad’s sales were greater than the Macintosh’s loss in sales. So Apple actually grew its total revenue. However, brand cannibalization can also backfire, prompting customers to purchase the new product instead of the older product, leading to a stagnation or decrease in the company’s total revenue.”


2 Replies to “Brand Dilution, Extensions, and Cannibalization”

  1. Great post, Joel – But let me add this to Clifford Chi’s “synopsis” of brand dilution, extension, and cannibalization … Often times, Brand/Line Extensions are used as DEFENSIVE marketing strategies to counter a competitor’s move within the same category. For example, Arm & Hammer launched the first toothpaste with baking soda, whereupon, Crest and Colgate immediately introduced similar line extensions to PROTECT their existing brand franchises. Other times, companies OFFENSIVELY extend their brands into different yet highly related categories simply to leverage the equity of their current Brand franchise. For example, Crest went from toothpaste to co-brand extension Crest with Scope (another P&G brand); then to Crest Whitestrips; and then to acquiring the leading Oral-B toothbrush brand. Ergo, establishing leadership in the TOTAL oral healthcare segment. And then there is co-branding per se. Like Procter’s “Tide Plus Fabreze” laundry detergent (two leading brands joining forces in a related and very powerful way). The key to success always being ADDED VALUE. Because without that, “me too” brand extensions of any kind just won’t make it. Marketing history proves that. Best, Bill

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.