Beyond Uniqueness: Brand Benefit Differentiation
On Friday 9 August 2019 Alexander Farestvedt Hem will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.
Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:
Positioning has always been an important issue. The article of Park, Jaworski and MacInnis (1986) is a classical contribution. How is it possible to update and improve this model based on existing research?
10:15 in Aud Karl Borch, NHH
Title of the thesis:
Beyond Uniqueness: Developing and Testing a New Typology of Brand Benefit Differentiation
Theory on consumer-based brand equity (CBBE), the dominant theory of branding, holds that unique associations are the main source of brand differentiation. However, the focus on unique associations as the main strategy for developing brand equity has recently been called into question.
Alexander Hem's dissertation consists of three articles that challenge and expand the traditional perception of differentiation in CBBE by suggesting that uniqueness is just one of several possible forms of differentiation.
The first article draws on network theories of human memory and develops a fourfold typology for brand benefit differentiation. In addition to uniqueness (termed categorical differentiation), three new forms of differentiation are identified: graded, instrumental, and structural differentiation. It is argued that the meaning of benefits may vary across brands according to the strength of benefit associations (graded differentiation); in terms of how much associations contribute to the meaning of benefits (instrumental differentiation); and in terms of how such associations are structured or interlinked (structural differentiation). All of these variations in benefit networks may lead to differentiated meanings.
The second article provides preliminary support for the new typology by identifying all four types of benefit differentiation in aggregated association maps.
Article 3 shows that structural and graded differentiation have positive effects on benefit evaluation and brand attachment, respectively, while categorical differentiation (uniqueness) has negative effects on both benefit evaluation and brand attachment. These findings support and extend the recent critiques of CBBE theory’s focus on uniqueness.
12:15 in Aud Karl Borch, NHH
Members of the evaluation committee:
Professor Leif Hem (leader of the committee), Department of Strategy and Management, NHH
Professor Klaus G. Grunert, Aarhus University
Professor Chunyan Xie, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
Professor Magne Supphellen (main superviso), Department of Strategy and Management, NHH
Professor Debborah Roedder-John, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.
The trial lecture and thesis defence will be open to the public.