Good times and bad: responsibility in brand alliances
European Journal of Marketing,
As a strategy in which two or more brands are intentionally combined into a joint offering and/or marketed together, cobrands involve multiple partners that contribute to and are responsible for the offering’s performance. The strategy of cobranding involves multiple brands that contribute to and are responsible for the performance of a joint offering. This research investigates how consumers attribute responsibility for the cobrand in neutral situations (e.g., cobrand announcements) as a foundation for investigating responsibility attributed in the aftermath of a negative cobrand event involving a retailer and a product brand. The concept of cobrand integration is introduced and defined as the extent to which the offering is a fusion of the partner brands in form, function, and service delivery. The authors hypothesize and find evidence that cobrand integration and partner brand strength affect consumer attributions of responsibility for cobrand performance and subtyping judgments (i.e., the extent to which the negative event is perceived as an exception). The results also show asymmetric effects of cobrand integration on product brand and retailer attributions. This research contributes to the literatures on cobranding and product-harm crises, and has implications for brand and retail management.