Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Brand death: A developmental model of senescence
Michael T. Ewing a,⁎, Colin P. Jevons a, Elias L. Khalil b
a b

Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, PO Box 197, Caulfield East, VIC 3145, Australia Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Victoria, 3800 Australia



Drawing on literature underpinning brand management in marketing, product life cycles in economics, fads in sociology and aging in biology, this paper argues that brand demise is inevitable and not necessarily caused by managerial incompetence. Rather, this demise is a natural part of a brand's developmental process, instigated by consumers seeking to satisfy not only their material needs (constitutive utility), but also their self-image (symbolic utility). This paper presents a model of brand senescence to explain this phenomenon and concludes with a discussion of the implications for managerial practice and marketing theory. Crown Copyright © 2008 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 1 June 2007 Received in revised form 1 February 2008 Accepted 1 April 2008 Keywords: Brand death Constitutive utility Symbolic utility

1. Introduction Strong consensus seems to exist that managing brands for the long run is both possible and desirable (e.g. Keller, 1999), but little work examines the limits to brand longevity. Indeed, in response to the failings of inappropriate interpretations of the product life cycle, Plummer (1990, p.26) even asserted that “only…poorly managed brands have a finite life cycle…if a brand turns out to have a finite life cycle, it is not the brand that failed but the people who managed it”. The implication is that brands should be immortal and only managerial incompetence results in brand death. A considerable amount of work has examined brand revitalization (for example, Wansink, 1997; Lehu, 2004). Groucutt (2006, p. 106) proposes an alternative view, arguing that while brand life expectancy can be increased by innovation and repositioning, “organizations must recognize when the brand has genuinely reached the end of its life span”. This article takes the notion further and develops a model to show that for many brands, death is inevitable. Failure is a fundamental, if unwelcome, feature of social and economic systems. Governments persistently pursue policies that are against their own long-term interests, such as quixotic military invasions (Tuchman, 1984), suggesting that self-destructive activity is a human characteristic. Species fail and become extinct, brands fail, companies fail, public policies fail (Ormerod, 2005). Even children from the age of four understand animal and human death (Barrett and Behne, 2005). The mathematical relationship that underpins the link between the frequency and size of the extinction of companies is virtually identical to that which describes the extinction of biological species in the fossil record; only the time scales differ (Ormerod, 2005).
⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 3 9903 2563; fax: +61 3 9903 155. E-mail address: (M.T. Ewing).

For the most part, marketing scholars and consultants have paid scant attention to failure and death — concentrating instead on contemporary brand success stories. The received wisdom appears to be that firms can, and should, manage brands for business eternity. However, as Golder (2000) has pointed out, much of this received brand wisdom is quite simply wrong; for example, the widely perpetuated myth that 19 out of every 25 market-leading brands had maintained their leadership for at least 60 years. The researchers of that study had carefully selected the 25 ‘leaders’ for their longevity from a group four times larger. Thus, the sample was highly selfselected and biased. Golder (2000), however, attributes various suggested causes for brand demise, but all of the causes he suggests are failures of management rather than being market-driven. This paper argues that not just supply side, but also demand-side factors contribute to brand demise, and this paper presents a model of these demand-side factors. For the sake of simplicity, the commonly-known and wellunderstood American Marketing Association (2004, p. 18)'s definition of “brand” is adopted in this article: “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. This paper uses the phrases brand senescence and brand death to resonate with the underlying biological metaphor used to clarify the argument. Technically speaking, brands, unlike living organisms, cannot actually die. Withdrawn or disused brands may be dead in a commercial sense, but in a legal sense, they really just go into a coma (to pursue the metaphor) and businesses now exist that revive some of these so-called “orphan” brands (Mazur, 2004), finding value in familiar names that big consumer product companies could not. This article employs concepts from biology and modeling techniques commonly used in economics. As Gigerenzer (2000, p. 95) notes, interdisciplinary exchange has fuelled the development of some of the

0148-2963/$ – see front matter. Crown Copyright © 2008 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2008.04.004

accept and understand the brand mortality phenomenon. how competition among suppliers stimulates innovations and the dynamics of the rise and fall of a product. and the developmental model of the organism to exemplify the senescence of brands on the other. with greater sensitivity to price in the latter stages of the brand life cycle. while more recently Vargo (2007) reiterates that economic science provides the foundation for marketing science. The only way to avoid the identificational slip is to advance the argument behind the metaphor. including repositioning by management (Ewing et al. for instance a superficial similarity or a substantive similarity. which could be seen as analogous to the asexual reproduction of simple organisms.” Two phenomena can be similar for different reasons. Early philosophers who studied the human condition pointed out the inherent instability of existence. why brands age. 1981. Alfred Marshall. Jevons et al. The biological life cycle metaphor The idea that economics should look to biology for intellectual inspiration is a long-held and distinguished one. that is. Indeed. as shown by Sheth and Sisodia (1999) in the case of new ICT. When an author uses a metaphor. 1981). However. 2005). is a double-edged sword. become independent of parents through choice or necessity (Jevons. if managers have a tendency to mismanage. striking as the life cycle metaphor is. 1992) pointed out that the product replacement cycle. change through acquisition by purchase and renaming (de Chernatony. To extend the biological metaphor even further. Rather. The product life cycle model can provide. More recently. 1981. Sheth et al. concluding with a discussion of the managerial and theory-building implications of the model. The approach followed in this paper is purely theoretical and focuses on the inevitability of brand death. a metaphor of the “cycle of birth–growth–maturity– death” (Tellis and Crawford. 2005). 1965. 2003). and ecology has provided useful insights for a more holistic view of marketing (Prendergast and Berthon.. 125). which of course is an obvious and desirable goal.. driven by the supply side of innovation as in Schumpeter's (1943) gales of creative destruction (see also Eldredge and Gould. a biological metaphor. that is. This model does not follow the product life cycle. the biological metaphor is not an argument per se. Dhalla and Yuspeh. Hem et al. Accordingly. Indeed Simon (1979) suggested the term brand life cycle to overcome this confusion and to add cross-price elasticity to the primary demand measured in the PLC. Such a similarity affords the use of the metaphor “inflation” — but only in the superficial sense. On the other hand is the danger of hiding behind the metaphor and wrongly assuming that the metaphor is in itself the argument to justify the thesis. The model developed here follows this line of reasoning by proposing a framework for thinking about the demise of brands. 1976) and also in general.M. Further. / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 333 most influential new metaphors and theories in the sciences. compresses the life cycle process. 2000). This avoids a common misuse of metaphors. Distinguishing between the product class. in modeling an explanation of brand demise. urged his adherents to premeditate that “nothing is stable. Ewing et al. 1980. 1972) on one hand.. so too may “super-management. they cross-fertilize (Aaker and Joachimsthaler. 27). a focus on the demand side is appropriate. this paper does not profess to have arrived at a theory capable of both explaining and predicting brand death. This article aims to establish that brands have a finite life span. the use of the term “wings” to denote the forelimbs of sparrows and eagles amounts to a substantial similarity. 2000. It then reviews fads and provides an explanation of their origin in reflexive utility. but shorthand for the thesis. Muniz and O'Guinn.. evolutionary change in the workings of human social and economic systems (Ormerod. 1981. 1990. Tellis and Crawford. the role of supply side – the possibility of mismanagement – is not used. See Rust and Chung (2006) and Chintagunta et al. The use of biological metaphors. Hayflick. we live in the middle of things . 1995) by consumers (Beverland and Ewing.T. although the thought is unpleasant.. Finch. the metaphor cannot be a theory of the life cycle stage of brands. reproduce through brand extension (Aaker. Both Simon (1979) and Tellis (1988) showed that price elasticity varied significantly. 2000).. At best. the focus is on the demand side.” That is. Algesheimer et al. A brand is subject to market forces that drive a senescence process rather than being in control of its own destiny. On the other hand. As such. This demonstrates ample support for the use of economic theory and methods to model marketing phenomena. The difference between the product cycle model and the brand cycle model is enormous. exist in communities for mutual benefit (McWilliam. almost inevitably die in the long run (Jevons et al. (2006) for recent examples of models in marketing based on the familiar assumption of optimization. and product classes having life cycles that are too long to model conveniently (Tellis and Crawford. just as a living organism cannot choose whether to age or not. 1998. (1988) point out that half of all marketing theories have an economics foundation. where new technology supersedes functional products rather than replacement as they wear out. 2007). 1978. for example. and then to explain why this is expected. Rockstein et al. Norton and Bass (1987. neither can a brand (manager). 2005). 1991. by either consumers or firms. the inflation of balloons and the rise of prices of goods share the superficial similarity of expansion of numbers. several authors have criticized the product life cycle especially in the erroneous use of the model as a predictive tool (Day. what Khalil (2000) calls the “identificational slip. or any kind of metaphor. Comfort. marketing has used theoretical modeling since the early 1980s (Moorthy. as does this paper. The supply-side account of mismanagement cannot provide a theory of brand demise for the simple reason that just as mismanagement may occur. Friedrich Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter have all variously stressed the importance of dynamic. p. they are born. 1976. Finch and Johnson. 2006). Woodside (2008) used the forced-metaphor elicitation technique to understand and explain human self-behavior in terms of the behavior of animals. namely. 2001. nonetheless. in the first century AD. The metaphor is not a substitute for the argument. a supply-side account would be anecdotal — an account of what actually or accidentally took place with regard to one brand or a few brands. For instance. with picturesque descriptions such as ‘hokum’ and a ‘myth’ (Plummer. in this case. Importantly. they could also have a tendency to manage very well. p. for the supply side mainly drives PLC. 1990. this article discusses the life cycle metaphor and the product life cycle as distinguished from the brand life cycle. have relationships between themselves and their stakeholders (Fournier. they grow. provided the metaphor is clear and crisp in the mind of the reader. and in so doing supported the use of metaphor as a particular method that can drive theory advancement. An analogy would be the difference between the biological model of evolution. 1979). namely. Similarly. the author's thesis becomes clear and crisp. 1993). Brands certainly show many living characteristics. why all organisms eventually age and die (see Behnke et al. the paper develops a model of brand senescence. with product forms behaving as suggested by the PLC. how competition among consumers is the living force behind the rise and eventual decline of brands. Finally. form and brand is important. this paper offers a theoretical model to enable scholars (and managers) to begin to properly conceptualize. To misunderstand a superficial similarity as a substantial similarity would be an identificational slip. and not necessarily caused by management incompetence. individual brands being difficult to model. the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca. a demand-side metric that provides some support for the senescence process presented in this paper. First. Even biologists do not have a clear consensus of what causes the senescence of living organisms. namely. 2. Haig (2003) and Groucutt (2006) provide some excellent examples of these. The eventual death of most brands is inevitable. In the proposed model of brand senescence. 1990.. 1974. 2005). 2005) — and.

that “people buy things not only for what they can do but also for what they mean” (Levy. They argue that consumers watch advertisements about automobiles. A central thesis of the theory of brands advanced here is that human need for symbolic utility drives brands and symbolic utility differs from individuals' social needs to consume goods such as movies together. where the brand mediates such a symbiosis. or what is called here for short “symbolic utility. rather than wait for the DVD. However. Thus. by consuming together with friends. the sociobiological concept of the selfish gene (Dawkins. As a result of the positive reinforcement dynamics (related to first-mover advantage) Y becomes more fashionable or faddish than Z. crowd out internal motivations. Discussion of the experience is easier if the colleague. that is. Likewise. Y and Z could have started as identical restaurants in all respects and opened their doors on same day. one of which is the need to exchange goods because of the benefits of division of labor and the need to send signals in order to gain the trust of others. Ostrom in Gintis et al. Gersick. related to the symbolic effect of consumption. This booking would have initiated a snowball effect: people at the firm. if the entry point of the analysis of symbolic utility is social interaction. and most importantly from this article's perspective. This preference is because apart from the additional product-based values of wide screen. That is. and so on. 1996) also notes that people derive extra pleasure from going to a popular seafood restaurant (Y) in comparison with a less popular one (Z). the generation of innovations. That is. a proper theory of brand mortality would emphasize more than just consumption. elaborated below. 3.b. The argument here is that the consumption of the film or the game through remembrance amounts to a constitutive utility. it is not possible to model it in the same manner as a model of symbolic utility. neoclassical economists have largely focused on constitutive utility. a shirt satisfies both needs. and consumer research has clearly shown that possessions help to define a personality (Belk. is the need to enhance the experience when individuals consume a product. and maybe nearby firms. To continue with the film example. People prefer to watch what others are concurrently watching because they can re-experience the pleasure with small talk in the elevator. The literature sometimes presents the quest for symbolic utility as the quest for status and social rank.T. Rather. added to the phenomenon. but also seeking affirmation of his or her own self-image.334 M. sport is an important element in modern society. 1991). This symbolic utility relates back to one of the earliest branding concepts. However. The fun is less. that is. in one important respect. Goldsmith et al. However. he or she is not only seeking material utility. the drive for individuals to consume in the company of others is a desire to enhance the experience. the life of a brand involves a symbiosis of the consumer and the producer. p. people prefer to see a film upon release. internal motivation. although the social interaction could also facilitate the utility. all focus on the supply side. the hypothesis lies in the distinction between the satisfaction of material needs. (2001a. (1997) call symbolic utility “psychological capital. despite their differences. But more recently. ceteris paribus. Developmental model How can one explain the death and rise of new brands? The evolutionary model of Schumpeter (1943) in relation to innovation. appeal to constitutive utility. The warmth or practical utility (constitutive utility) that the shirt provides differs from the sense of self-respect or sense of achievement (symbolic utility) that the shirt may deliver. consumption is the driving force behind the rise and decline of brands. peer pressure. and the social circle is secondary. 2003. in order to re-enjoy the experience of their own purchase. excellent sound and crisp-clear picture. When a consumer buys a product. 2003) refers to “noncognitive” capital. symbolic utility is the product of social interaction or the attempt to attain status in the eyes of others. reflexive utility is constitutive utility and. the need for self-confirmation. the punctuated equilibria model of macro-evolution (Eldredge and Gould. The fact that consumers start to prefer Y over Z does not reflect by any means a change in tastes or preferences.. that learning to die was the best preparation for life.b) was among the first economists to show how incentives that rely heavily on pecuniary rewards. allowing people to socialize and remember the same experience together. People do not only derive the constitutive utility of eating seafood. Therefore.” He argued the fundamental importance of conquering fear and premeditating death. the key is the consumer's quest for feeling good about oneself. Becker (1991. The consumer actually chooses the social circle (reference group) as a mirror to facilitate the validation of his or her own standard of success. 1991) are not suitable models for brand senescence. but also derive reflexive constitutive utility when they talk about the experience with a colleague. 1959. Elements of this philosophy may appropriately apply to the managers of brands in business. Becker and Murphy (1993) also treat reflexive utility (which they call social interaction) as constitutive utility. called here “symbolic utility. 1972.b) use the term “incentive-enhancing preferences”. Otherwise. But for one simple accident. This phenomenon is about fads. such as films or restaurants. 1988). Ewing et al. 2000a. goes to the same restaurant — which makes the restaurant more popular. as distinguished from brands. in seeing a film or a replay of an old sports game if no one else is likely to be talking about the event. Although symbolic utility has an important social aspect. In this regard. Therefore. social interaction is not the optimal entry point to theorize about brands. even if the two restaurants are identical in every other respect. a large nearby firm could have booked a huge luncheon for the first week at Y rather than at Z. social conformity. or feeling good about oneself. self-image. social interaction involves many other variables. and neo-Lamarckian models of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Landman. 2005). given one salient similarity: Brands and fads are consumption patterns that thrive in reference to groups. social dynamics are not the key to the modeling of brands or symbolic utility. Mainstream. social influence. the two phenomena are distinctly different. Nonetheless. 118). The terminology “constitutive utility” and “symbolic utility” is relatively new to the literature. who want to re-experience the pleasure of dining would tend to go to Y restaurant more often than Z. Nonetheless. called here “constitutive utility. People try their best not to go to the movies or restaurants alone. / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 that have been destined to die. Fashions or fads have their origin in reflexive utility. These models. Bruno Frey (1997a.” Bowles et al. people also want to talk about the film with their friends while the memory is still fresh. economists have begun to pay attention to the role of self-esteem. in particular constitutive reflexive utility to stress the basis of remembrance of some original consumption. and self-image. to avoid conflating symbolic utility with the social need to consume goods. Bénabou and Tirole. which is often confused with symbolic needs. while Z was almost empty all week. Another aspect of social interaction. Rather.” For instance. as Karni and Schmeidler's (1990) model shows. coffee room. or at checkout counters. The confusion of brand senescence and fads is easy. likewise. or insights. explaining differences in income that cannot be explained by human capital. 1976). To elaborate on the social need to consume goods together. James Heckman (in Heckman and Krueger. The consumption via remembrance might not be as vivid or as sharp as the original consumption. The value of any proposed terminology is in the consequences. as a distinction from cognitive capital acquired through education. even after they have just purchased an automobile. with the rise of behavioral economics. 2002.” For instance. behavior . not different from the original consumption. the implication is that humans feel driven to demand symbolic utility because they live in society. hence. self-confirmation. which is called here “symbolic utility” (see also Fehr and Gächter.” and the satisfaction of self-respect. that is.

called double jeopardy. the status effect is positive up to a threshold. For the agent under focus. assume that a consumer purchases a product that has a well-known brand name. Constitutive utility is conceptually separate from symbolic utility if the intent is to locate the driving forces behind brands. 82) wrote: “Other things being equal. 2. A person that lies to the left of the Columbus G. Double jeopardy arises because people tend to consume less of an inconspicuous item. The marketing literature has noted the social dynamics behind fashion and fads. and so on. entering the Columbus G. that is. a virtual group that exists in the mind of the consumer as he or she tries. called p⁎.M. they are actually discussing fashion that arises from reflexive utility. and often usually. the status appeal of the Columbus G deteriorates. In turn. Each individual constructs his or her own G as a way to gauge his or her own achievement or aspiration. where no two individuals occupy the same rank. 2. is different for each individual. NÞÞÞ where C(W. This paper would urge against confusing such constitutive utility with symbolic utility. in his or her mind.e. succeeds in trespassing. dB/dt b 0. p. the individuals that make up the total relevant population. nutrition. small brands attract less loyalty just because they are small (i. To express the argument formally. the G held by the consumer (who could be of any rank not to the right-hand side of #251) would be defined by p⁎. An examination of Columbus G reveals more. is ultimately about constitutive utility. NÞÞ dS=dt ¼ dS=dBddB=dt while dS/dB is constant. hence. The Wellbeing Effect: The primary. As Ehrenberg et al. RÞ þ SðBðt. G does not need to be a formal club. such as a model working in Springfield. these individuals have heterogeneous characteristics. That is. In contrast. The Status Effect: As more relevant people. However. which of course is not the case in everyday life. First. G is actually. If the Springfield model. Second. people cannot talk about their experience and. This reflexivity effect is at the origin of fads. That is. the brand affords boredom effect (t. Y becomes preferred for the reflexivity effect. 4. So. (1990. such as a model whose virtual group is the New York G. The reference group. everyday. For a given population size. where 1 denotes the highest ranking agent with regard to one's particular metric or criterion. For instance. That is. an important hurdle lies at the origin of why brands are destined to age and die.. to measure success and set up goals or ambitions. who use and associate with the brand. For the brand to have some appeal that endures past the first encounter. the consumer derives two kinds of utility: constitutive utility and symbolic utility. ideally in one's own reference group. dB/dN N 0. the individuals do not undergo development in the present model. if the metric is sexual appeal. the consumer refreshes or rejuvenates his or her own symbolic experience through a quest for status. given the assumption of fixed or non-changing abilities. Similar to the consumption of restaurant Z or an unknown film. The Boredom Effect: As the consumer gets used to the symbol of his success. Two simple assumptions allow us to get at the core issues. in the population (N) of 100 million. members of one's reference group. welfare-affording utility such as warmth. Missouri. Each agent in N does this. although facilitated by social dynamics. would not want to demean him or herself by joining the Columbus G — although the members of the Columbus G would be highly motivated to include the New York model in their G. usually carved a G that is much higher than a model working in a secondary or tertiary market in Columbus. or car racing. the status effect is more potent than the boredom effect. (1990) use the word brand. Although Ehrenberg et al. For simplicity. start to consume the brand. music composition. of the original wellbeing experience. Constitutive utility is composed of two effects: 1. The consumer. RÞ þ SðBðt. the population from 1 to N. and the population is 100 million people. have fixed characteristics. academic accomplishment. this would violate the brand. while dS/dB is constant. no two individuals have identical characteristics. To show the effects formally. that is. simply because as more people talk about Y. In this case. N⁎ would be the person ranked number 251. . would derive less reflexive utility. have lower market shares)”. starting from the top rank “1”. For instance. as s/he sets up G. called N. U ¼ U ðC ðW. On the other hand. would achieve her or his dreams to join the Columbus G — but the members of the Columbus G would try very hard to keep the Springfield model out. generated through this word-of-mouth promotion. / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 335 changes and preference for Y increases over time. denoting time) and the number of people purchasing the brand (N). Therefore. fashion or fad. S(B) symbolic utility arises from the consumption of the brand (B). such as a country club. The Reflexive (wellbeing) Effect: arises from remembrance. This status effect underlies in part the effectiveness of consumer branding. A model of brand senescence In the light of the preceding discussion. that is. R) is constitutive utility arising from the wellbeing effect (W) and the reflexive effect (R). a person to the right of the Columbus G. or a church. culinary success. must first identify the relevant metric or criterion as determined by the career aspiration — whether sexual appeal. s/he demarcates his own G. housing. each individual lines up. The boredom effect (dB/dt) indicates that the excitement one receives from buying a brand – the perceived value – starts to decline immediately after the purchase. Ohio. symbolic utility is also composed of two effects: 1. called G. the population with regard to chosen metric or profession. the consumer becomes bored or less excited over time. Put in general terms. N pT ¼ NT =N where N⁎ is the number of people that the consumer considers to be worthy members of his or her G. a model (which would use the sexual appeal metric) that works in a primary market such as New York City would have.T. that is. if people outside one's reference group (in this instance people of lower status). Ewing et al. the status effect (dB/dN) indicates that the excitement that one receives from buying a brand increases as one encounters more people. the reference group that he can use to measure his or her own success. Given the assumptions. assume an additive form of the U function and focus on the symbolic effect: U ¼ C ðW. celebrate their success through the brand. a professional association. they are not one and the same kind of utility. This hurdle is that the consumer can experience the status effect afforded by the brand only if the users of the brand are only people who are eligible to be in one's reference group. For instance. dS=dN ¼ dS=dBddB=dN. assume that: jdB=dNjNjdB=dtj: That is. and tarnish its status appeal. it is possible to line people up according to this metric. Although constitutive utility and symbolic utility have social dynamics aspects. usually through social interaction or only through mementos. assume the following utility function. On the other hand.

where members pay fees and hence keep gates locked against trespassers. People tend to attach themselves to clubs or groups as a matter of social identification that has little to do with ranking or brands. common usage does not perceive membership in a club as a brand. Therefore. 1977). Brand managers might be able to slow down the demise by erecting high membership fees. In summary. Of course. internal vice such as management incompetence. The list of dead brands is immeasurably long. This is a case very similar to what economists and ecologists call the tragedy of the commons (Hardin. Goods – such as homes. Wansink. hi-tech (Atari. As the number of people who lie to the right-hand of G. The consequence is a prisoners' dilemma: the outcome is worse than the optimal one that is possible if property rights are in place and enforced (Khalil. or external factors such as environmental change. 1997). not long run. social climbers can easily fake their ability and buy the brand. But then neither firms nor corporations produce such club goods. national defence.000. Riley. an item gains value with success in preventing aspirational trespassers from purchasing. where the users cannot enforce property rights against trespassers. managers are duty bound to avoid this demise for as long as is profitable and practical. Planning for this inevitable demise. Ewing et al. but rather. their successors) will be faced with the inevitability of brand demise. Â Ã dB=dNz0 for pa 0. Goods such as parks. On the other hand. who hold that successful brand in high esteem. by definition. the executioner's call can be deftly delayed through clever revitalization and repositioning strategies (as suggested by. For instance. they become more able to pay for the high premium. But maintaining the boundary of N⁎ with regard to other goods that afford symbolic utility is very difficult. Brands are rivalrous goods insofar as the goods embody symbolic effect such as automobiles. Of course. In such cases. the brand value will suffer. The focus here is on one kind of trespassing. However. likewise. Of course. TWA). / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 which in this case. that is. In addition. Horizontal trespassing cannot explain the brand demise phenomenon investigated here. lectures. the brand ultimately declines and runs out of aspirational consumers. The non-iconic majority of brands that do not live beyond the first generation are in the overwhelming majority. Their inevitable death paves the way for their successors. Associations protect these club goods. as textbook economics tells us. Lynn. that is. manage all their brands in their portfolios for profitability. notwithstanding people's fascination with the few iconic (Holt. But brands would be non-rivalrous if goods such as country clubs and exclusive neighborhood associations embody the symbolic effect. Agres and Dubitsky (1996) made some progress towards this concept in proposing that a brand declines in asset value as consumer knowledge exceeds consumer esteem. Oldsmobile). the brands would be club goods. a successful brand attracts aspirational interest from non-owners. 5. N⁎ ≤ N.T. 1992b) notes this phenomenon. This common usage highlights that the term “brands” denotes only common goods. consider: Airlines (Air UK. There is simply no way to prevent social climbers from purchasing the brand if the brand is available to anyone who has the money to pay. 0 ≤ p⁎ ≤ 1. Automotive (Austin Healey. Every agent races to consume the resource before someone else does. and clothes – are rivalrous when the consumption of one unit leads to the reduction in supply of one unit. So. the non-excludable nature of brands as common goods is fundamental to the proposed model of brand demise. for example. the status appeal of the brand starts to decline (dB/dN b 0). 2004) exceptions. while all the time having a clear understanding that sooner or later they (or more likely. Pan Am. As more non-owners achieve their goal and become associated with the brand they aspire to. people can change their affiliation with one church or one artistic group to become a member of another church or another artistic group. Alvis. British Caledonian. in the long run. are not only common goods. For instance. if present. The brand mortality view articulated in this paper contrasts with received brand management wisdom. that is. Of course. Even if everyone is interested in restricting entry. the resource vanishes when the community cannot prevent trespassers. which may involve potential “horizontal” trespassing. Trespassing. brands would not be common goods and hence would not undergo the demise analyzed here. the actual number in G expands beyond the optimum N⁎. 1999. Social psychology literature (e. such as fish in a lake or grass in a pasture. the ultimately inevitable demise occurs as the result of market dynamics and consumer behavior. The term “trespassing” can also mean movement of people from one social group to another. Lynn and Harris. and bus rides are non-rivalrous when the consumption of one unit does not lead to the reduction in supply by one unit. Therefore. Keller. not enforced. for example. if only because the process of innovation gives rise to new brands and new forms of business operation that can more successfully compete in an environment of uncertainty and change. British Overseas Airways Corporation. This faking would increase the membership of one's reference group beyond N⁎. This increased purchasing ability would lead to the dynamics of the demise of the brand modeled above. such as charging a high price for the logo. Lehu. 1991. The following sums up the basic idea of the aging of brands. the value for previous owners decreases. “vertical” trespassing or social climbing. In addition. Discussion This work attempts to explain why there should be an expectation that most brands will die in the long run. As club goods. In the long run. Michael Lynn (1992a) describes the psychology of unavailability. 2004). Triumph. This conflict between individuals and the common good occurs with the depletion of a common resource. Should. However. Sinclair). 1 ðnegative status effectÞ: The existence of threshold p⁎ means that the size of G is fixed from the lower end N⁎.336 M. The non-excludable nature of brands-qua-status. Therefore. that is. the word “trespassing” refers to the narrow sense of “vertical” trespassing. as suggested for human beings many centuries ago by Seneca. Freedom Air. is not a category of interest in this argument. However. The argument here is that managers should not concentrate so much on investing resources in attempts to turn their major brands into immortal blockbuster icons. watches. they might risk losing income if the membership fee is excessively high. 1997. museums. and so on. Ansett. they are goods that are non-rivalrous. 1997. sufficient Ferrari fans become wealthy enough to progress beyond owning cheap merchandise such as caps and T-shirts and ownership of the cars themselves becomes widespread. but just to offer a few examples from three product categories. leads to the eventual demise of brands. club goods cannot be brands in the definition provided here. if consumers' income rises. Cellnet. Indeed. automobiles. As a result. p⁎ = 251/100. 1989. succeed in trespassing. Sun Air. . But are brands public goods? Public goods. such identification. Commodore. when property rights either are absent or. defined as exclusive goods because the association can exclude outsiders below acceptable status and hence protect the symbolic effect of the brand. 1968. should result in more efficient brand management. pT ðpositive status effectÞ Â Ã dB=dNb0 for pa pT . Country clubs and exclusive neighborhood associations such as gated communities try to limit trespassing. N⁎ cannot exceed the total population.000. because according to the hypothesis developed here the behavior can explain the phenomenon under investigation. the problem is that most published studies of brands are inherently short-term. Lynn and Snyder. Morris. Ormerod (2005) demonstrates empirically that most firms will fail in time. He points out that business failure can be due to endogenous or exogenous events.g. 2002.

The regulation of physiological changes during mammalian aging. Bénabou R. 1991. editors. Marketing definitions: a glossary of marketing terms. Children's understanding of death as the cessation of agency: a test using sleep versus death.D. and the ugly. Barrett HC. Changing needs for brands. Gächter S. American Economic Review. Brand failures: the truth about the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time. Cambridge. Slowing the adoption and diffusion process to enhance brand repositioning: the consumer driven repositioning of Dunlop Volley. Fehr E. Krueger AB. Bowles S. Wedel M. . Behne T. This work provides some interesting opportunities for future research. Porras J. Fehr E. American Marketing Association.108(4):941–64. Gächter S. Brand immortality may well be an elusive chimera.74(5):65–77. Thus. Sloan Manage Rev 1990. Tirole J. Rev Econ Stud 2003. Harvard Bus Rev 1996. Hem LE.87(4):746–55. Johnson TE. May. Over-generalization from a weak theoretical. In: Susan Cottam. conceptual or knowledge base is dangerous (Ormerod. Models in paleobiology. Living on a lifeboat. Osborne M. The product life cycle: analysis and applications issue. 1997a. Hardin GJ. Iversen NM. Analyzing the past is of course much easier than predicting the future and the general business press is replete with stories of people who have become successful and rich. Renaissance: a case study in brand revitalization and strategic realignment. The brand relationship spectrum: the key to the brand architecture challenge. Fowlds DA. Belk RW. Yet.24(4):343. 2000. Finch CE. Leslie De Chernatony. Econ Inq 1997. Beverland M. Gintis H. 1978. as a very young and theoretically immature discipline. Barwise PT. Aaker DA. The tragedy of the commons. San Francisco: W.90(4):980–94. 1960. 1977. Brand extensions: the good. 2001b. Cheltenham.42(4):8–23. Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism. Not just for the money: an economic theory of personal motivation. Building your company's vision. Bengtsson A. New York: Wiley-Liss. UK: Edward Elgar. Ewing MT. Possessions and the extended self.37(3):614–36. Collins J. Shepherd IRB. A note on restaurant pricing and other examples of social influences on price. Day GS. editors. Acad Manage Rev 1991. J Market 2005. Eldredge N. Managing the commons. Q Rev Biol 1976. From brand vision to brand evaluation: strategically building and sustaining brands. Becker GS. Rossi P. Goodhardt GJ. the bad. Veum JR. Ewing M. Incentive-enhancing preferences: personality. Yuspeh S. Moral sentiments and material interests: the foundations of cooperation in economic life. Erdem T. Bénabou R. Experimental Cell Research 1965. editors. 2003. Do incentive contracts crowd out voluntary cooperation? Working paper no. Brand managers have only existed since 1931. Gintis H. Joachimsthaler E. 2006.54(3):82. J Market Res 2000. Q J Econ 2002. Another possibility in the short-to-medium term is to use computer simulation — based on past behavior and theoretically supportable assumptions. H. Osborne M. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research. considerable scope exists for marketers to embrace historical methods of enquiry — as recently demonstrated by Jevons (2005) and in the context of Chinese brands and their origins by Eckhardt and Bengtsson (2007). Becker GS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1996. The impact of psychological and human capital on wages. By way of example. Structural modeling in marketing: review and assessment. The biology of senescence. Am Econ Rev 2000a. Hardin GJ. they must accept the inevitability that their brands will die over time. Commercial databases such as A C Nielsen's warehouse withdrawals may well have information dating back far enough to be useful for the present intent. 1972.162(3859):1243–8. 2005). Dhalla NK.37(2):156–72. the date of the memo by Neil McElroy at Procter and Gamble that provided a job description for a brand man [sic] he had recently hired (Aaker and Joachimsthaler.54(1):102–12.T. Molecular biology of aging. In: Schopf TJM. p. J Consum Res 1998. MA: MIT Press.15(2):139. most empirical work has been cross-sectional. Ewing et al. Pulling the white rabbit out the hat: branding advances in Imperial China. Self-confidence and personal motivation. Am Econ Rev 1997b. Scientific American 1980.25(6):604–16. San Francisco: Cooper & Co. The life. in which equilibria exist by definition (Ormerod. death and resuscitation of brands. The determinants of earnings: a behavioral approach. MA: MIT Press. David Aaker only published his first top tier journal article in the early 1970s and Kevin Lane Keller received his Ph. After all. Ehrenberg ASC. Cooperation and punishment in public goods experiments. not the multitude of currently poor people with bright ideas for future success that may or may not be viable.35(4):419–42. 1976. These examples of brand failures are disappointing for business people seeking immortality. Boyd R. editor. Gersick CJG. USA: Oxford University Press. J Polit Econ 1991. editors. An important defect with these standard equilibrium approaches is that they tell nothing of the timescale of the process of change from one equilibrium to another — even in the textbook world. Moreover. de Chernatony L. Bottom line: brands have simply not been studied for long enough to make the kinds of lawlike generalizations upon which longevity and immortality myths are grounded. editor. University of Zürich. 2007. Birmingham: April. Murphy KM. Cambridge. Finch CE. The social influence of brand community: evidence from European car clubs. Institute for Empirical Research. This error is a common problem of ex post rationalization and overemphasis of success. Baden JJ. Cambridge.51(1):49–83. Finally. Algesheimer R.45(4):60–7. He generated a great deal of data in comprehensively disproving the 17/25 brands lasted for a century theory. J Consum Res 1988. Longevity.31(4):47–56. Behnke JA. MA: Harvard University Press. the long-standing misrepresentation about brand longevity uncovered by Golder (2000) suggests that a thorough review of what are current considerations of historical certainties would be well worth the effort. Dholakia UM. p. Golder PN. for a price!) as the only possible cause of brand demise.96(2):93–108. The biology of aging. and the genome. 2000). Harvard University. Darity Jr W. Finch CE. J Market 1990. in the mid-1980s.39:1137–76. Adaptive thinking: rationality in the real world (evolution and cognition). The Alvin Hansen Symposium on Public Policy. 155–8. Groucutt J. Collins and Porras (1996) showed that businesses that were able to preserve their core values and purpose while adapting strategies and tactics to suit environmental changes outperformed the general stock market by a factor of 12 over 70 years. J Econ Lit 2001a. Handbook of Business Strategy. Freeman.69(3):19–34. Dubitsky TM. For example.242(1):58–65. Heckman JJ. The argument here is that for businesses to survive. de Chernatony L. J Advert Res 1996. Chicago. Gigerenzer G. Q J Econ 1993.70:489–520.3:19. Becker GS. senescence. American Marketing Association.117(3):871–915. editors. Moment GB. and fewer than 80 years is hardly long enough to generate any evidence for immortality. Chintagunta P. Herrmann A. Gintis H. edited with an introduction by. 101–6. Gould SJ. brand management as a profession is very young. scores of bestsellers espousing exactly that fill airport bookshops. Cognition 2005.48(5):385–91. J Prod Brand Manag 1995. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann. Comfort A. Historical method in marketing research with new evidence on long-term market share stability. Inequality in America: what role for human capital policies? In: Friedman Benjamin M. Calif Manage Rev 2000. it appears the early pioneers are still driving the discipline of brand management. Frey B. 2006. The selfish gene. but of course. Accounting for tastes. And if this timescale effect holds in economics – a discipline whose formal academic roots date back at least five times longer than marketing – the problems in the extant brand management literature. New York: Plenum Press. Tirole J. In: Hardin G. Factors influencing successful brand extensions. Bowles S. Haig M. 1985. Revolutionary change theories: a multilevel exploration of the punctuated equilibrium paradigm. Fehr E. Hayflick L.36(1):21–30.99(5):1109. The cost of price incentives: an empirical analysis of motivation crowding out. Dawkins R. The cell biology of human aging. / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 337 examples in fast moving consumer goods would have even more pronounced breadth and depth.19(7/8):781–806. this absence of rigorous longitudinal research over many generations has in no way deterred self-styled branding gurus from making unsupported prognostications about brand immortality and in isolating managerial incompetence (which they can fix. Proceedings of the Third Though Leaders' Conference on Brand Management. J Market Manag 2003. 2005). 1990. A simple theory of advertising as a good or bad. Market Sci 2006. two of the founders of the discipline are relatively young. Fournier S.16(1):10–36. Eckhardt GM. are likely to be much greater.M. behavior and earnings. References Aaker DA. To think that all firms in a competitive environment can follow the same simple rules and prosper is ludicrous. Extension of this data collection would allow testing of the model outlined here. Agres SJ. Hayflick L. Bus Horiz 2005. Goldsmith AH. 34. Forget the product life cycle concept! Harvard Bus Rev 1976. The limited in vitro lifetime of human diploid strains. 2003. Double jeopardy revisited. Papers and proceedings. 2000b. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005. 2004. J Market 1981. London: Kogan Page. New York: Elsevier. Frey B. Bowles S. Finch CE. 1979. Science 1968.

New York: Alfred A Knopf. Plummer JT. Holt DB.18(A):83–105. Vargo SL. Scarcity effects on value: a quantitative review of the commodity theory literature. Bass FM. The return of the prodigal brand. . Norton JA. Lehu JM. Psychol Market 1997. Managing brands for the long run: brand reinforcement and revitalization strategies. J Mark Res 1988. April. Capitalism. New York: Harper Perennial. Khalil EL. Norton JA. 1974. Ormerod P. Harvard Business School Press. Schmeidler D. An evolutionary approach to product growth theory. Am Econ Rev 1990. Woodside AG. Scarcity effects on desirability: mediated by assumed expensiveness? J Econ Psychol 1989.61(5):480–7.13(1):3–7. Mark Sci 2006. Sloan Manage Rev 1992.19(12):53–8. Making old brands new.10:133–52.30(1):26–8. Levy SJ.33(9):1069–86.41(3):43–54. 2005. Annu Rev Genet 1991. 1984. J Advert Res 1990. J Prod Brand Manag 2005. Mazur L. Schumpeter JA. J Inst Theor Econ 1997. Sheth JN. J Mark Res 1979. Sheth JN. Eur Manag J 2000. 2005.80(2):262. Dynamics of price elasticity and brand life cycles: an empirical study. Gabbott M.27(1):71. Calif Manage Rev 1999. London: Faber and Faber.338 M.153(2):411–5. The desire for unique consumer products: a new individual differences scale. Building stronger brands through online communities. Tuchman BW. 2004. Uniqueness seeking. Lynn M. Lynn M. Rockstein M. Lynn M.27(4):412. New York: Academic Press. J Acad Mark Sci 1999. Sisodia RS. Customer and brand manager perspectives on brand relationships: a conceptual framework. Mark Lead 2004.41(3):102–24. Gardner DM. Bass FM. Using the forced metaphor-elicitation technique (FMET) to meet animal companions within self. Keller KL. Brand community. Chung TS. Lopez SJ. 12th Conference on Historical Analysis & Research in Marketing. Berthon P. Marketing models of service and relationships. Insights from ecology: an ecotone perspective on marketing. J Gen Manage 2007. Karni E.25:331–41. Handbook of positive psychology. The march of folly: from Troy to Vietnam. McWilliam G. Rust RC.26:53–5. de Chernatony L.25 (6):560–80. Harvard Bus Rev 1959. Psychol Mark 1991.14(5):300–9. Basic Appl Soc Psychol 1992a. Chesky J. Back to life! Why brands grow old and sometimes die and what managers then do: an exploratory qualitative research put into the French context.18(2):223. socialism and democracy. J Market 1993. A new home for orphan brands. Manage Sci 1987. Australas Mark J 2007. On a theory of markets and marketing: from positively normative to normatively positive. O'Guinn TC. Khalil EL. The psychology of unavailability: explaining scarcity and cost effects on value. Wansink B. Marketing theory: evolution and evaluation. editors. Symbols for sale. NY: Wiley.13(1):67–78.32(4):73–81. The price elasticity of selective demand: a meta-analysis of econometric models of sales. Jevons C. Prendergast G.10(2):257. How brands become icons: the principles of cultural branding. Managing brand demise. J Mark Commun 2004. Scarcity's enhancement of desirability: the role of naive economic theories. A diffusion theory model of adoption and substitution for successive generations of high-technology products. Lynn M. editors.45(4):125–32. Long Beach California.37(4):117–24. The inheritance of acquired characteristics. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 2000. Crawford CM. Khalil E.16(4):439–52. Sussmen ML. Fixed preferences and changing tastes. Basic Appl Soc Psychol 1992b. Theoretical modeling in marketing. 2002. The Red Queen paradox: a proper name for a popular game. Jevons C.15(1):53–60. Landman OE.25:1–20. Ewing MT. Types of metaphor and identificational slips in economic discourse.8(1):43–57. Harris J. Garrett DE. Tellis GJ. Revisiting marketing's lawlike generalizations. Lynn M. Lynn M.14(6):601–16. Am Demogr 1997. J Bus Res 2008. 1943. Outliving the myths. Snyder CR. Theoretical aspects of aging.T. Tellis GJ.57:92–106. Res Hist Econ Thought Methodol 2000. Ewing et al. / Journal of Business Research 62 (2009) 332–338 Moorthy KS. J Mark 1981. Oxford: Oxford University Press. J Consum Res 2001. Evolution of technological generations: the law of capture. 1988. Muniz AM. Simon H. Why most things fail. Jevons C.33(2):66–77. In: Snyder CR.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful