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What is Brand Extension?

M. McGee
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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A brand extension basically is a spin-off product with the same brand as the parent product. These new products are usually closely-related to the original. A good example of a brand extension is Reese's® Peanut Butter. A company that was already known for their peanut butter based candy began marketing a line of standard, non-candy, peanut butter. Companies use brand extensions to put the brand's name in more locations, increasing the number of times a consumer will see it during a shopping trip.

In order for a brand extension to be successful, the original brand generally needs instant name recognition and a good reputation. It also helps if the spin-off product has a similar focus to the the parent product, so consumers will associate the parent brand's good reputation with the new product. In the cases of Reese's®, the company makes a wide range of peanut butter candy that available worldwide. As a brand name it is nearly synonymous with its product. As a result, the company was able to make other products, such as peanut butter, baking chips, and peanut butter cookies. All of these products are similar to the original peanut butter candy, but different enough to have other competitors and locations in a grocery store.

A brand extension can be risky for the parent company. They often need to invest in research and equipment to make the new product, then spend money to market it. One failed extension can lead to millions of lost dollars and potentially damage a company's reputation. In order to see if the their customer base is ready to try new products, many companies opt for a product extension as a first step. These are products that occupy the same location as the original product and appeal to the same customers. For example, Mountain Dew™ makes a brand soda, then offers more than ten varieties of Mountain Dew™ based drinks. Each of these sodas are appealing to the same market as a whole, but each has a slightly different niche audience.

Product extensions are often seen as a first step toward a brand extension. A company expands its reach in small increments through new products in its own sphere of influence. As it gains market share within its original area, it can use the steady income and increased consumer base of its flagship product to move into other areas and create brand extensions.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M. McGee
By M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.
Discussion Comments
By anon218486 — On Sep 29, 2011

Great information! My company is looking to use Brand Extension on one of our products. I've been researching the internet to find advantages and disadvantages. Your blog was very useful!

By pastanaga — On Jun 25, 2011

In some cases brand extension can be really crazy.

I'm thinking specifically of the Hello Kitty brand but there are other similar ones.

It gets to the point where the brand is so popular people will buy anything that has the brand on it. Which is why you end up with Hello Kitty guns, Hello Kitty duct tape and Hello Kitty urinal cakes (I know, I know, it's really weird).

I mean, most of the collectors of this kind of merchandise are young females who wouldn't ordinarily dream of buying a gun, let alone a urinal cake.

But put Hello Kitty's face on those products and you are guaranteed sales.

I guess in a way they are creating their own little bubble, because brands are usually worth only what people are willing to pay for it.

By bythewell — On Jun 22, 2011

I was really happy when Reese's Peanut Butter Cups finally came down under, although I hardly ever get them.

But I think people here are more likely to buy the peanut butter than the candy.

Peanut butter candy is just not really common in New Zealand and Australia and people are turned off by it.

It's the same problem with root beer and other things like that. There's no market for it, so there's no point in bringing the brand in, so there is no chance to create a market.

I think that's where line extension as a branding strategy really works, because if people like the Reese's peanut butter, they'll be more likely to try something they'd usually consider weird, like the cups.

M. McGee
M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
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