One, two, three and…stretch

Many brands would like to stretch themselves into as many sectors as possible, but first they must establish a stronger brand identity. . . .

A new survey carried out by Omnimas shows how successfully – or not – brands can move, or “stretch”, into new sectors.

Just over 2,000 adults throughout the UK were asked whether they would buy products – such as cosmetics and personal care products, membership of a health club or financial services – from a range of well-known brands.

The findings look beyond brand “permission” – what new products or services the consumer “permits”brands to offer them (this “permission” being reflected in sales), to brand “persuasion” – what the brand can produce that is difficult, if not impossible, for the competition to replicate.

The brand permission index of the survey was calculated by asking consumers the questions “can you imagine this brand moving out of its home sector?” and “are you willing to give it a go?”

Unsurprisingly the results show consumers are far more comfortable, whatever the sector of business, buying new products from established brands.

This highlights how more established brands are able to exploit their equity and high level of trust. They are perceived as more trustworthy and offer reassurance. These factors allow established brands to innovate outside their traditional sectors with relative ease.

Newer brands such as Egg or Freeserve seek to become the consumers’ preferred choice across an increasingly broad range of sectors. But the new research shows this may be presumptuous.

The permission index for newer brands is significantly lower than that for established brands. Consumers responded on an emotional level and were notably short on goodwill.

These attitudes were confirmed by the clear hierarchy which emerged from respondents’ answers to the “most popular dinner guest” question.

Consumers were asked to choose which brand they would most enjoy having round for dinner. Boots, M&S and Kellogg were by far the most popular. Nearly one in two respondents chose them, a result due, surely, to their familiarity and what is perceived as their friendly personae. Ikea, Gap and Orange were chosen by around one in five respondents, demonstrating their lower salience and respondents’ limited emotional involvement with these product categories generally.

Egg and Freeserve were selected by around one in ten, mostly male, respondents, reflecting the colder and more distant personalities of these brands.

The research also showed significantly more willingness on the part of women to develop an active relationship with brands: 56 per cent of them were willing to invite at least one brand to dinner, compared with only 19 per cent of male respondents.

Successful “persuasion” is the result of a brand bringing clearly defined, positive attributes which are relevant to the category it is moving into. This is what allows them to convert customers.

The research shows that Boots and Kellogg could expect one in four to one in five consumers to buy their brand if they entered the health and fitness sector. Their perceived expertise in healthy living and a modern image were two factors driving consumer acceptance of these brands’ move into different areas.

But if Egg decided to move into home food delivery or Gap into financial services, they would be unlikely to convert much more than 5 per cent of consumers.

Consumers would struggle to identify any relevant brand qualities or values which would allow them to imagine what the product would actually be like.

The survey also indicated that financial services and utilities are the sectors most open to new entrants, with stronger brand equities found in other sectors.

The cosmetics and personal care sector appears to be the least vulnerable. This may be due to the higher emotional involvement consumers have with brands in these sectors and the greater number of strongly differentiated brands already occupying the sector.

The survey shows that newer brands need to establish firmly their brand equities before they exploit them in new areas.

For this they require brand consistency at all levels, not to mention innovation used strategically to shape and enrich the brand.

The feasibility of brand stretch must be considered not only in terms of new revenue streams, but also in terms of the potential enhancement of the existing brand, reinforcing the core product’s appeal in its original market.

Factfile is edited by Julia Day. Benoit Wiesser, CLK planning consultant, contributed

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here