Unexpected Benefits of Being Less Rather Than More Similar: How Mindset and Brand Presentation Influence Copycat Evaluation



Copycats imitate features of incumbent brands to free-ride on their equity. A prevailing idea in marketing theory and legislation is that the more similar copycats are to the incumbents, the more they gain and incumbents lose. Three studies demonstrate, however, that copycat evaluation is critically dependent on people’s mindset and the presentation of brands at the point-of-purchase. That is, when a judge mindset rather than a consumer mindset is activated or when the incumbent brand is present rather than absent, then highly similar copycats are actually evaluated less positively than more subtly similar copycats. This reveals how the impact of copycat-incumbent similarity is critically contingent on the mindset and brand presentation during copycat evaluation. The results imply that subtly similar copycats can be as or even more damaging to incumbent brands than blatantly similar ones.
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Dr. S. Puntoni