TippingSprung Fields Fourth Annual Brand-Extension Survey

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Survey, produced in collaboration with Brandweek magazine, names best and worst brand extensions in 10 popular categories.

best extension for the kids

Results from TippingSprung's fourth annual survey of brand extensions, produced in collaboration with marketing newsweekly Brandweek, revealed which extensions are most compelling and logical, and which are weakest and have the greatest potential to dilute the brand. Major trends in brand extensions were also identified.

"This year we've seen many brand owners looking to extend their brands in more ways than ever," says Martyn Tipping, president of TippingSprung and one of the survey's authors. "This survey was developed to help identify which are most likely to strengthen a brand and which might end up on the ever-growing roster of failed extensions." Some of the more questionable extensions identified in this year's survey include Precious Moments funerary urns and caskets, Hooters Energy Drink and the Humane Society Dog Lovers Wine Club.

The Top Brand Extensions. The 785 respondents to the survey chose the following top brand extensions:

  •     PetSmart PetsHotel was named best overall brand extension with 34.3 percent of the vote. Huggies Sunscreen came in a close second with 29.0 percent, followed by Disney Wedding Gowns.
  •     The ASPCA Collection of pet travel and safety products was named best nonprofit extension, edging out the Smithsonian Home Collection. In third place was PBS Blend (made in association with Green Mountain Coffee).
  •     Curves cereal was voted best food extension with 34.3 percent of the vote. Coming in a distant second was Entenmann's coffee, followed by Russell Stover cookie dough.
  •     The best retail exclusive was won handily by Food Network kitchenware (at Kohl's) (42.4 percent). Second place was taken by Sharper Image Office (at OfficeMax).
  •     La-Z-Boy Outdoor furniture dominated the "best extension in the home" category (63.9 percent), followed by the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Network at 28.8 percent.
  •     "Best extension on the road" was won convincingly by PetSmart PetsHotel (54.5 percent), with Frommer's luggage a distant second at 26.6 percent.
  •     Huggies Little Swimmers sunscreen came in first in the "best extension for the kids" category (45.5 percent), followed by Idol Camp (American-Idol based summer camp) at 18.7 percent and Blue Man Creativity Center (Blue Man Group-based preschool) at 18.3 percent.
  •     In the "Tastes Funny" category, respondents voted for the most questionable food extension. Hooters Energy Drink was the resounding winner with 32.5 percent of the vote, followed by Bumble Bee Chicken at 21.9 percent and Trump Steaks at 21.1 percent. (Hooters has the dubious distinction of having twice won "worst extension" in its category in the TippingSprung survey, the prior time being for Hooters Air airlines in the 2004 survey.)

Worst brand extension, for the extension that seems least to fit with the brand's core values, was won by Precious Moments urns and caskets (33.9 percent of respondents). The Humane Society Dog Lovers Wine Club came in a close second with 28.4 percent of the votes. Respondents also felt there was something inappropriate about Girls Gone Wild apparel (14.9 percent) and the Ferrari Segway (11.6 percent). (Past "winners" in this category include last year's Cheetoh's lip balm, 2005's Harley-Davidson cake-decorating kit and 2004's Hooters Air airlines, which has since suspended regular service.)

Celebrity wine and spirits extensions. The survey also looked at the popular but crowded field of celebrity-branded wine and spirits: which extensions are logical, and which are too much of a stretch? Respondents voted "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down" on a number of celebrity extensions:

  •     Danny DeVito's Premium Limoncello was voted "thumbs-down" by a large margin (69.7 percent).
  •     Martha Stewart Vintage split voters rather evenly, with 49.9 percent voting "thumbs up."
  •     Newman's Own wine got an enthusiastic "thumbs up" from 75.3 percent of respondents.
  •     Respondents were skeptical about Royal Butler Wines (from Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's butler), with 85.7 percent voting "thumbs down," and the Jeff Gordon Collection of Fine Wines, with 90.8 percent voting against it.
  •     Tommy Bahama rum received the greatest number of "thumbs up" votes among all entrants in the category (79.7 percent).

"We know that fame and fortune can sell fragrance and fashion," said Robert Sprung, CEO of TippingSprung, another of the survey's authors, "but celebrity status does not appear to be a guarantee of success in the wine and spirits category. Just because Jeff Gordon is a great NASCAR driver doesn't make you trust him as a winemaker."

Emerging trends in brand extension. The following are a few of the trends suggested by the survey:

  •     Nonprofit growth. When nonprofits attach their names to brand extensions that are a good fit with their organizational mission and values, they can build brand recognition and significant revenue. The ASPCA's line of pet safety products and the Smithsonian's collection of furniture and home décor products are good examples of this. On the other hand, survey respondents looked less favorably on products such as the Humane Society Dog Lovers Wine Club, which seems more distantly related to the mission or values of the Humane Society.
  •     Healthy eating. With food marketers scrambling to address the issue of obesity, it's interesting to note that Curves, a women-only gym, is the winner of this year's best food extension category. As consumers demand healthier options in eating and drinking, one can expect to see other brands with strong wellness credentials, rather than taste credentials, entering the food category. And as a counter-trend, one may also expect to see more comfort-eating brand extensions from the likes of Russell Stover and Burger King.
  •     Direct-to-retail. The market has seen a lot of activity in direct-to-retail brand extensions in the past year, and this continues to represent a major opportunity for brand owners. For the Food Network (Kohl's) and Sharper Image (OfficeMax), a direct-to-retail strategy provides guaranteed distribution, multiple product opportunities and a smart, consumer-savvy partner with substantial resources at their disposal. Retailers also benefit by creating higher-margin premium private labels and attracting new consumers through their doors.
  •     Pet power. Pets continue to be a hot category in brand extensions. This year, PetSmart's PetHotel won best overall brand extension, joining Iams pet insurance which won the same category in 2005. In 2006, the TippingSprung survey focused on "people" brands like Von Dutch, Good Humor ice cream, and Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs that had ventured into the pet category, with Snoop Dogg's pet accessories winning the category. But the pet extensions that appear to be most successful are service-related (e.g. insurance, lodging) rather than product-driven, so it may not be surprising to see further brand extension in the area of pet-related services.

Background and Methodology of the Report

TippingSprung, a New York brand consultancy, observed that no major surveys focus on the powerful phenomenon of brand extensions. The first brand-extension survey was launched in 2004 to help answer key questions about brand extensions: Which extensions are most effective? Which go too far or otherwise dilute the brand? What makes some brands more extendible than others? What are some of the major trends in brand extension today?

The 2007 survey, carried out in collaboration with Brandweek, was sent to 25,000 branding and marketing professionals. Respondents came from a range of companies, including Condé Nast, Sara Lee, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Target.

The survey was sent in the last week of November 2007, and results were collected until December 3, 2007.

A full survey report is available from TippingSprung (email to robert @ tippingsprung.com) or call 212.268.4800, ext 201.

TippingSprung (http://www.tippingsprung.com) is a New York-based branding company with key practices in brand licensing, brand strategy, naming, design, and cause marketing.


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