The escalating competition between firms, the surge in brand advertising and the fragmentation of the media epitomize the most recent transformations in the consumer environment. These transformations add to the challenge when brand managers attempt to clearly present their brand's core associations. Customers are often unintentionally given indistinct and inconsistent brand messages, resulting in brand confusion (BC). When brands confuse consumers, they develop a negative perception of the brand equity, and the brands become dysfunctional. This occurrence threatens brand strength and is therefore of major importance for marketing managers. Studies exploring BC describe it as comprising three dimensions (that is, brand similarity, brand clarity and brand credibility). This research is the first to include five important components and thus views BC more in its entirety. The two new key dimensions that we introduce are brand continuity and brand diversity. In addition to extending the explanation of BC, this study initially shows this construct's strong direct impact on sustainable brand satisfaction (SBS). Our findings reveal that BC affects SBS negatively, leading to a greater proneness to buy private label brands, thereby harming brand equity.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
In contrast, Weers (2008) measures each dimension's individual impact on subsequent constructs without integrating the distinct dimensions into one construct. The dimensions are therefore measured by multiple indicators.
Aaker, D.A. (1996) Building Strong Brands. New York: Free Press.
Anderson, E., Fornell, C.G. and Lehmann, D.R. (1994) Customer satisfaction, market share, and profitability: Findings from Sweden. Journal of Marketing 58 (3): 53–66.
Anderson, E., Fornell, C.G. and Mazvancheryl, S.K. (2004) Customer satisfaction and shareholder-value. Journal of Marketing 68 (4): 172–185.
Armstrong, G., Harker, M., Kotler, P. and Brennan, R. (2009) Marketing: An Introduction. Harlow, England: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Bartlett, F.C. (1932) Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
BBDO. (2009) Brand Parity Studie. Düsseldorf, Germany: BBDO Consulting.
Becker-Olsen, K.L. and Hill, R.P. (2006) The impact of sponsor fit on brand equity: The case of nonprofit service providers. Journal of Service Research 9 (1): 73–83.
Bergkvist, L. and Rossiter, J.R. (2007) The predictive validity of multiple-item versus single-item measures of the same constructs. Journal of Marketing Research 44 (2): 175–184.
Brakus, J.J., Schmitt, B.H. and Zarantonelle, L. (2009) Brand experience: What is it? How is it measured? Does it affect loyalty? Journal of Marketing 73 (3): 52–68.
Broniarczyk, S.M. and Gershoff, A.D. (2003) The reciprocal effects of brand equity and trivial attributes. Journal of Marketing Research 40 (2): 161–175.
Burke, R.R. and Srull, T.K. (1988) Competitive interference and consumer memory for advertising. Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1): 55–68.
Burmann, C. and Weers, J.-P. (2006) Markenimagekonfusion: Ein Beitrag zur Erklärung eines neuen Verhaltensphänomens. Bremen, Germany: Chair of innovative Brand Management. Working Paper no. 22.
Burmann, C. and Weers, J.-P. (2007) Markenimagekonfusion: Eine neue Managementherausforderung in reifen Märkten. In: M. Bruhn, M. Kirchgeorg and J. Meier (eds.) Marktorientierte Führung im wirtschaftlichen und gesellschaftlichen Wandel. Wiesbaden, Germany: Gabler, pp. 135–157.
Burton, S., Lichtenstein, D.R., Netemeyer, R.G. and Garretson, J.A. (1998) A scale for measuring attitude toward private label products and an examination of its psychological and behavioral correlates. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 26 (4): 293–306.
Carpenter, G.S., Glazer, R. and Nakamoto, K. (1994) Meaningful brands from meaningless differentiation: The dependence on irrelevant attributes. Journal of Marketing Research 31 (3): 339–350.
Chandy, R.K., Tellis, G.J., MacInnis, D.J. and Thaivanich, P. (2001) What to say when: Advertising in evolving markets. Journal of Marketing Research 38 (4): 399–414.
Chang, C. (2005) Ad and brand evaluation in a competitive processing context – the effects of number of attributes and repetition strategies. Advances in Consumer Research 32 (1): 548–553.
Chaudhuri, A. and Holbrook, M.B. (2001) The chain of effects from brand trust and brand affect to brand performance: The role of brand loyalty. Journal of Marketing 65 (2): 81–93.
Chin, W.W. (1998) The partial least squares approach to structural equation modeling. In: G.A. Marcoulides (ed.) Modern Methods for Business Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 295–336.
Clancy, K.J. and Trout, J. (2002) Brand confusion. Harvard Business Review 80 (3): 22.
Dahlen, M. and Lange, F. (2004) To challenge or not to challenge: Ad-brand incongruency and brand familiarity. Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice 12 (3): 20–35.
Dahlen, M., Lange, F., Sjödin, H. and Törn, F. (2005) Effects of Ad-brand incongruency. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 27 (2): 1–12.
Dahlen, M., Lange, F. and Smith, T. (2010) Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Diamantopoulos, A. and Winklhofer, H.M. (2001) Index construction with formative indicators – An alternative to scale development. Journal of Marketing Research 38 (2): 269–277.
Erdem, T. and Swait, J. (1998) Brand equity as a signaling phenomenon. Journal of Consumer Psychology 7 (2): 131–157.
Erdem, T. and Swait, J. (2004) Brand credibility, brand consideration and choice. Journal of Consumer Research 31 (1): 191–198.
Esch, F.R. (2005) Brand confusion – wege aus dem Dickicht. Marketing Journal 38 (10): 12–16.
Festge, F. and Schwaiger, M. (2007) The drivers of customer satisfaction with industrial goods. Advances in International Marketing 18: 179–207.
Fischer, M., Völckner, F. and Sattler, H. (2010) How important are brands? A cross-category, cross-country study. Journal of Marketing Research 47 (5): 823–839.
Fiske, S.T. and Linville, P.W. (1980) What does the schema concept buy us? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 6 (4): 543–557.
Fiske, S.T. and Taylor, S.E. (1991) Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Fornell, C.G., Johnson, M.D., Anderson, E.W., Cha, J. and Bryant, B.E. (1996) The American customer satisfaction index: Nature, purpose, and findings. Journal of Marketing 60 (4): 7–18.
Fornell, C.G. and Larcker, D.F. (1981) Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research 18 (1): 39–50.
Fuchs, C. and Diamantopoulos, A. (2009) Using single item measures for construct measurement in management research. Die Betriebswirtschaft 69 (2): 195–210.
Gudergan, S.P., Ringle, C.M., Wende, S. and Will, A. (2008) Confirmatory tetrad analysis in PLS path modeling. Journal of Business Research 61 (12): 1238–1249.
Hair, J.F., Ringle, C.M. and Sarstedt, M. (2011) PLS-SEM: Indeed a silver bullet. Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice 19 (2): 139–152.
Helm, S., Eggert, A. and Garnefeld, I. (2010) Modelling the impact of corporate reputation on customer satisfaction and loyalty using PLS. In: V. Esposito Vinzi, W.W. Chin, J. Henseler and H. Wang (eds.) Handbook of Partial Least Squares: Concepts, Methods and Applications in Marketing and Related Fields. Berlin: Springer, pp. 515–534.
Hennig-Thurau, T. and Klee, A. (1997) The impact of customer satisfaction and relationship quality on customer retention: A critical reassessment and model development. Psychology & Marketing 14 (8): 737–765.
Henseler, J., Horváth, C., Sarstedt, M. and Zimmermann, L. (2010) A cross-cultural comparison of brand extension success factors: A meta-study. Journal of Brand Management 18 (1): 5–20.
Henseler, J., Ringle, C.M. and Sinkovics, R.R. (2009) The use of partial least squares path modeling in international marketing. Advances in International Marketing 20: 277–320.
Höck, C., Ringle, C.M. and Sarstedt, M. (2010) Management of multi-purpose stadiums: Importance and performance measurement of service interfaces. International Journal of Services Technology and Management 2 (1): 62–72.
Homburg, C., Koschate, N. and Hoyer, W.D. (2006) The role of cognition and affect in the formation of customer satisfaction: A dynamic perspective. Journal of Marketing 70 (3): 21–31.
Hoyer, W.D. (1984) An examination of consumer decision making for a common repeat purchase product. Journal of Consumer Research 11 (3): 822–829.
Hoyer, W.D. and MacInnis, D.J. (2004) Consumer Behavior. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Hulland, J. (1999) Use of partial least squares (PLS) in strategic management research: A review of four recent studies. Strategic Management Journal 20 (2): 195–204.
Hyman, M.R., Kopf, D.A. and Lee, D. (2010) Review of literature – Future research suggestions: Private label brands: Benefits, success factors and future research. Journal of Brand Management 17 (5): 368–389.
Iyer, R. and Muncy, J.A. (2005) The role of brand parity in developing loyal customers. Journal of Advertising Research 45 (2): 222–228.
Jacoby, J. (1984) Perspectives on information overload. Journal of Consumer Research 10 (4): 432–435.
Jacoby, J. and Hoyer, W.D. (1990) The miscomprehension of mass-media advertising claims: A re-analysis of benchmark data. Journal of Advertising Research 30 (3): 9–16.
Jacoby, J., Szybillo, G.J. and Busato-Schach, J. (1977) Information acquisition behavior in brand choice situations. Journal of Consumer Research 4 (3): 209–216.
Jarvis, C.B., MacKenzie, S.B. and Podsakoff, P.M. (2003) A critical review of construct indicators and measurement model misspecification in marketing and consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research 30 (2): 199–218.
Keller, K.L. (1993) Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing 57 (1): 1–22.
Keller, K.L. (1998) Strategic Brand Management: Building, Managing, and Measuring Brand Equity. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Keller, K.L. and Lehmann, D.R. (2006) Brands and branding: Research findings and future priorities. Marketing Science 25 (6): 740–759.
Kotler, P., Keller, K.L., Brady, M., Goodman, M. and Hansen, T. (2009) Marketing Management. Harlow: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Kottman, J.E. (1977) Promoting the parity product. Journal of Consumer Affairs 11 (1): 145–150.
Kroeber-Riel, W. (1984) Emotional product differentiation by classical conditioning. Advances in Consumer Research 11 (1): 538–543.
Kumar, N. and Steenkamp, J.-B.E. (2007) Private Label Strategy: How to Meet the Store Brand Challenge. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Kumar, V., Ghosh, A. and Tellis, G.J. (1992) A decomposition of repeat buying. Marketing Letters 3 (4): 407–417.
Lane, V.R. (2000) The impact of ad content on consumer perceptions of incongruent extensions. Journal of Marketing 64 (2): 80–91.
Lau, R.R. and Sears, D.O. (1986) Social cognition and political cognition: The past, the present, and the future. In: R.R. Lau and D.O. Sears (eds.) Political Cognition: The 19th Annual Carnegie Symposium on Cognition. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, pp. 347–365.
Law, S. (2002) Can repeating a brand claim lead to memory confusion? The effects of claim similarity and concurrent repetition. Journal of Marketing Research 39 (3): 366–378.
Lee, E.-J. and Schumann, D.W. (2004) Explaining the special case of incongruity in advertising: Combining classic theoretical approaches. Marketing Theory 4 (1/2): 59–90.
Lee, J., Lee, J. and Feick, L. (2001) The impact of switching costs on the customer satisfaction-loyalty link: Mobile phone service in France. Journal of Services Marketing 15 (1): 35–48.
Linton, M. (2009) Why Do Chief Marketing Officers Have A Short Shelf Life? Forbes Report, 15 May, http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/15/cmo-turnover-dilemma-cmo-network-dilemma.html, accessed 18 March 2011.
Lohmöller, J.B. (1989) Latent Variable Path Modeling with Partial Least Squares. Heidelberg, Germany: Physica.
MacInnis, D.J., Moorman, C. and Jaworski, B .J. (1991) Enhancing and measuring consumers' motivation, opportunity, and ability to process brand information from ads. Journal of Marketing 55 (October): 32–53.
Madhavaram, S., Badrinarayanan, V. and McDonald, R.E. (2005) Integrated marketing communication (IMC) and brand identity as critical components of brand equity strategy: A conceptual framework and research propositions. Journal of Advertising 34 (4): 69–80.
Markus, H.R. and Zajonc, R.B. (1985) The cognitive perspective in social psychology. In: G. Lindzey and E. Aronson (eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology. New York: Random House, pp. 137–230.
McKinsey (2005) Glaubwürdigkeit in der Markenführung. Paper presented at the 3rd Wiesbadener Dialog der Egon Zehnder International Practice, July 2005, Wiesbaden, Germany.
Meyers-Levy, J. and Tybout, A.M. (1989) Schema congruity as a basis for product evaluation. Journal of Consumer Research 16 (1): 39–54.
Muncy, J.A. (1996) Measuring perceived brand parity. Advances in Consumer Research 23 (1): 411–417.
National Quality Research Center. (1995) American Customer Satisfaction Index: Methodology Report. University of Michigan Business School, Milwaukee, WI: American Society for Quality Control.
Oliver, R.L. (1999) Whence consumer loyalty? Journal of Marketing 63 (4): 33–44.
Petty, R.E., Cacioppo, J.T. and Schumann, D. (1983) Central and peripheral routes to advertising effectiveness: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of Consumer Research 10 (2): 135–146.
Phelps, J.E., Lewis, R., Mobilio, L., Perry, D. and Raman, N. (2004) Viral marketing or electronic word-of-mouth advertising: Examining consumer responses and motivations to pass along email. Journal of Advertising Research 44 (4): 333–348.
Poiesz, T.B. and Verhallen, T.M. (1989) Brand confusion in advertising. International Journal of Advertising 8 (3): 231–244.
Preacher, K.J. and Hayes, A.F. (2008) Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in simple and multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods 40 (3): 879–891.
Rigdon, E.E., Ringle, C.M. and Sarstedt, M. (2011) Structural modeling of heterogeneous data with partial least squares. In: N.K. Malhotra (ed.) Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 7. Armonk, NY: Sharpe, pp. 255–296.
Ringle, C., Sarstedt, M. and Zimmermann, L. (2011) Customer satisfaction with commercial airlines: The role of perceived safety and purpose of travel. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, forthcoming.
Ringle, C.M., Wende, S. and Will, A. (2005) SmartPLS 2.0. Hamburg, Germany: SmartPLS, http://www.smartpls.de.
Ringle, C.M., Wende, S. and Will, A. (2010) Finite mixture partial least squares analysis: Methodology and numerical examples. In: V. Esposito Vinzi, W.W. Chin, J. Henseler and H. Wang (eds.) Handbook of Partial Least Squares: Concepts, Methods and Applications in Marketing and Related Fields. Berlin: Springer, pp. 195–218.
Roedder, D.J., Loken, B., Kyeongheui, K. and Alokparna, B.M. (2006) Brand concept maps: A methodology for identifying brand association networks. Journal of Marketing Research. 43 (4): 549–563.
Roselius, T. (1971) Consumer rankings of risk reduction strategies. Journal of Marketing 35 (1): 56–61.
Roshan, D.A., Michels, T.A., Walker, M.M. and Weissbuch, M. (2007) Teen perceptions of disclosure in buzz marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing 24 (3): 151–159.
Rossiter, J.R. (2002) The C-OAR-SE procedure for scale development in marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing 19 (4): 305–335.
Rumelhart, D.E. and Norman, D.A. (1976) Accretion, Tuning and Restructuring: Three Modes of Learning. La Jolla, CA: Center for Human Information Processing. Report no. 7602.
Sarstedt, M. (2008) A review of recent approaches for capturing heterogeneity in partial least squares path modelling. Journal of Modelling in Management 3 (2): 140–161.
Sarstedt, M., Becker, J.-M. and Ringle, C.M. (2011) Uncovering and treating unobserved heterogeneity with FIMIX-PLS: Which model selection criterion provides an appropriate number of segments? Schmalenbach Business Review 63 (1): 34–62.
Sarstedt, M. and Ringle, C.M. (2010) Treating unobserved heterogeneity in PLS path modelling: A comparison of FIMIX-PLS with different data analysis strategies. Journal of Applied Statistics 37 (8): 1299–1318.
Sarstedt, M. and Schloderer, M. (2010) Developing a measurement approach for reputation of non-profit organizations. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing 15 (3): 276–299.
Sarstedt, M., Schwaiger, M. and Ringle, C.M. (2009) Do we fully understand the critical success factors of customer satisfaction with industrial goods? – Extending Festge and Schwaiger's model to account for unobserved heterogeneity. Journal of Business Market Management 3 (3): 185–206.
Sarstedt, M. and Wilczynski, P. (2009) More for less? A comparison of single-item and multi-item measures. Die Betriebswirtschaft 69 (2): 211–227.
Sattler, H., Völckner, F., Riediger, C. and Ringle, C.M. (2010) The impact of brand extension success factors on brand extension price premium. International Journal of Research in Marketing 27 (4): 319–328.
Schiffman, L.G. and Kanuk, L.L. (2009) Consumer Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schultz, D.E. (1993) Integrated marketing communications: Maybe definition is in the point of view. Marketing News 27 (2): 17.
Schwartz, B. (2004) The Paradox of Choice; Why More is Less. New York: Ecco.
Sinha, I. and Batra, R. (1999) The effect of consumer price consciousness on private label purchase. International Journal of Research in Marketing 16 (3): 237–251.
Sjödin, H. and Törn, F. (2006) When communication challenges brand associations: A framework for understanding consumer responses to brand image incongruity. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 5 (1): 32–42.
Smith, R.A. and Houston, M.J. (1985) A psychometric assessment of measures of scripts in consumer memory. Journal of Consumer Research 12 (2): 214–224.
Taylor, S.E. and Crocker, J. (1981) Schematic bases of social information processing. In: E.T. Higgins, P.C. Herman and M.P. Zanna (eds.) Social Cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 89–134.
Törn, F. and Dahlen, M. (2008) Effects of brand incongruent advertising in competitive settings. European Advances in Consumer Research 8: 234–239.
Völckner, F. and Sattler, H. (2006) Drivers of brand extension success. Journal of Marketing 70 (2): 18–34.
Völckner, F., Sattler, H., Hennig-Thurau, T. and Ringle, C.M. (2010) The role of parent brand quality for service brand extension success. Journal of Service Research 13 (4): 359–361.
Walsh, G., Hennig-Thurau, T. and Mitchell, V.-W. (2007) Consumer confusion proneness: Scale development, validation, and application. Journal of Marketing Management 23 (7–8): 697–721.
Warlop, L., Ratneshwar, S. and van Osselaer, S.M. (2005) Distinctive brand cues and memory for product consumption experiences. International Journal of Research in Marketing 22 (1): 27–44.
Weers, J.-P. (2008) Markenimagekonfusion als Managementherausforderung – Zum Problem einer gedächtnisbasierten und Point-of-Sale induzierten verwirrenden Wahrnehmung von Marken. Wiesbaden, Germany: Gabler.
Westbrook, R.A. and Oliver, R.L. (1991) The dimensionality of consumption emotion patterns and consumer satisfaction. Journal of Consumer Research 18 (1): 84–91.
Wetzels, M., Odekerken-Schroder, G. and van Oppen, C. (2009) Using PLS path modeling for assessing hierarchical construct models: Guidelines and empirical illustration. MIS Quarterly 33 (1): 177–195.
Wold, H. (1982) Soft modeling: The basic design and some extensions. In: K.G. Jöreskog and H. Wold (eds.) Systems Under Indirect Observations: Part I. Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 1–54.
Woodruff, R.B., Cadotte, E.R. and Jenkins, R.L. (1983) Modeling consumer satisfaction processes using experience-based norms. Journal of Marketing Research 20 (3): 296–304.
Wright, P.L. (1975) Consumer choice strategies: Simplifying vs. optimizing. Journal of Marketing Research 12 (1): 60–67.
Yeung, M.C.H., Lee, C.G. and Ennew, C.T. (2002) Customer satisfaction and profitability: A reappraisal of the nature of the relationship. Journal of Targeting, Measurement & Analysis for Marketing 11 (1): 24–33.
Yoo, C., Bang, H.-K. and Kim, Y. (2009) The effects of a consistent ad series on consumer evaluations: A test of the repetition-variation hypothesis in South Korean context. International Journal of Advertising 28 (1): 105–123.
Zhao, X., Lynch, J.G. and Chen, Q. (2010) Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research 37 (3): 197–206.
About this article
Cite this article
Kocyigit, O., Ringle, C. The impact of brand confusion on sustainable brand satisfaction and private label proneness: A subtle decay of brand equity. J Brand Manag 19, 195–212 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1057/bm.2011.32
- brand confusion
- brand equity
- schema theory
- partial least squares
- path modeling