The brand deletion strategy in brand portfolio management
Many large firms in consumer markets own and market an array of different brands (i.e. a brand portfolio) and routinely address strategic questions related to brand portfolio management, such as what brands to add, how to maintain brands, which ones to retain and which ones to delete. However, managers devote relatively less managerial time, attention, and effort to the strategic decision of brand deletion (Varadrajan, Defanti, and Busch 2006) i.e. discontinuing a brand from the firm’s brand portfolio. Moreover, there is extensive literature on creation/acquisition of brands, brand architecture, brand equity, and the impact of existing brands on firm performance but there is scant research in the area of brand deletion. I present findings from a grounded theory study conducted in the context of firms across several industries that adopt a house of brands type brand architecture. Based on the research gap, this dissertation attempts to address several questions about the meaning, attributes, and multiple facets of brand deletion. The focus of my dissertation is to understand the phenomenon of brand deletion, which is not only a neglected last resort strategy in industry (Kumar 2003) but also a scarcely explored topic in academic research. Brand deletion is defined as discontinuing a brand from a firm’s portfolio. This act of discontinuing a brand assumes two forms – killing the brand or selling the brand. Four other facets of brand deletion surfaced from this grounded theory research; these included the fit in brand deletion and the attributes, stakeholders, and implementation of brand deletion. This dissertation is structured as follows: The next section (chapter 1) is the introduction and presents a literature review. Further, chapter 2 explains the grounded theory approach used to understand the brand deletion phenomenon. Then, chapter 3 provides details about the method used to collect and analyze data. Chapter 4 discusses the findings of the research. The final section (chapter 5) explicates implications of findings for brand portfolio management theory and practice, offers directions for future research, and draws general conclusions.