Brand Oldness Associations


  • Maaninou -Em Nada
  • Huaman-Ramirez Richard
  • Cova Veronique

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Several brands choose to point out their old age (e.g. “Milka: 111 years of tenderness” in 2015; the painting, tradition and historicity of “La Laitière” in the 2016 marketing campaign) to show positive aspects that allow them to value their image such as expertise, familiarity or authenticity. Other brands, instead, opt for revitalizing their old age by modifying their logo and color (e.g. Intel in 2013), or their product design or communication (e.g. Fanta in 2017) in order to avoid being perceived as obsolete or old-fashioned. Thus, multiple examples show that managing the perceived brand age corresponds to an actual managerial issue. On the theoretical perspective, the notion of brand aging is addressed in the literature of brand rejuvenation (Huber & al., 2013; Muller & al., 2013). This research stream stipulates that any brand, regardless of its chronological age, risks of being subject to the effects of aging. The latter essentially translates into negative brand associations such as being out-of-date or obsolete. However, other research streams highlight and value positive associations from perceived brand oldness. These mainly include studies of brand heritage (Hakala & al., 2011; Urde & al., 2007; Wiedmann, & al., 2011), or nostalgic brands (Kessous & al., 2015; Merchant & al., 2015). Therefore, it seems that old brands awaken both negative and positive associations. Nevertheless, this ambivalence and these multiple associations have not been covered in the marketing literature and hence deserve to be examined. The exploration of this aspect of the brand is crucial for its management in the long run. Specifically, it would allow brands to evolve with market trends over the years, while maintaining a coherent and relevant image for consumers. In addition, regarding its measurement, no research has opted for an operationalization of the associations that consumers make when exposed to brands perceived as old. Therefore, two main research questions arise: What are the associations attributed to old brands perceived? And how can they be measured? The objectives of this research are twofold. First, we aim at identifying the dimensions of brand oldness associations in the framework of an anthropomorphic approach to consumer-brand relationship (Aaker, 1997; Aggarwal & McGill, 2012; Fournier, 1998). Second, we propose a measurement instrument of brand oldness associations in line with Churchill’s (1979) paradigm. This instrument should help managers gage the associations that consumers make with old brands. This research provides the conceptualization of a brand aspect that has been little addressed in the marketing research: brand oldness associations. It provides the identification of its dimensions and proposes a measurement scale. Our findings give new perspectives on brand age; a plethora of other concepts (Decline, Expertise, Maintenance, Reminiscence, Timelessness, and Tradition) results from brand oldness associations. This research presents a substantial managerial interest. In branding, perceived age raises important managerial issues regarding the strategy to adapt for an old brand. Our work provides a lever for action on this aspect of the brand.

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