Brand stretching is the term used to describe a method where companies take advantage of a name brand in a new market. Generally speaking, the process starts when businesses come up with new products that seem complementary to other successful products they already produce. They will then name and market the new items in a way that lets consumers know they are directly associated with the old products. This is generally meant to create confidence in certain consumers and attract people who used the original product. Brand stretching is generally considered an effective marketing tactic for launching something new, but it can also potentially damage name brands if the new products aren’t successful.
A good way to understand brand stretching would be to consider a hypothetical company known for making televisions. Over time, the company might develop a strong reputation for quality, and eventually, the company might decide to expand into a new product category, such as video game machines or computers. In that situation, the company could rely on brand stretching by naming and marketing their new product so that consumers immediately associated it with their televisions, perhaps even using the same exact naming convention used in the naming of the TVs and the same packaging graphics. Commercials for the new product might emphasize the company’s name and try to help consumers make the connection.
Most experts believe that brand stretching works because of the way consumers view products psychologically. Many people are very distrustful of new products when they’re shopping and may even prefer to buy things they don’t especially like in order to avoid the risk of buying something they don’t recognize. This sort of resistance and anxiety about the unknown can make it very difficult for a company to successfully launch something new, and brand stretching is a way of reducing the risk. When consumers see a brand they know and trust from some other market sector on a new product, they might be more inclined to give it a try, especially if the product name has a good association in their minds.
According to most marketing specialists, brand stretching isn’t necessarily right in every situation. For example, a company known for shaving products might not want to associate the brand name of their razors with a frozen food product they’re trying to introduce. Some people also think there is a real danger of sullying a brand name overall by using it too frequently on too many different products, especially if some of those products become failures.