4 Examples of Brand Extension Strategies

By Caroline Hagen

It’s time to fill the new product pipeline. But it feels like a step into the unknown…

However, you need to build your brand, so which brand extension strategies do you adopt?

If you’re a busy marketer, just starting the innovation process can be a challenge.

So before you dive in, and get an ideation session in your team’s diaries, remind yourself of the benefits of innovation and it will highlight the areas on which you need to concentrate.

It’s probable you want to make your brand more engaging and more relevant to your consumer. Or you may need to take the lead and drive category interest and create some excitement. 

Depending on which brand extension strategies you adopt, they can help you do this and more:

  • stretch into new categories or occasions
  • encourage consumers to trade up
  • remove a consumer barrier
  • respond to changing consumer needs and behaviours

Here are 4 alternative brand extension strategies to kick you off.

Brand Extension Strategy No. 1: Trading Up

Brand extension strategies - Trading up

This can be useful if there is a particular attribute of your brand that can be dialled up to enhance your point of difference in a category. 

If your brand is known for efficacy or strength, you could create the ultimate power version.  For example Harpic Power Plus 10x.


Or if your brand is known as the expert in your category, you dial up the expertise with a new version of the product that solves a specific problem or need.
For example Billingtons barista sugar.

Or segment usage by occasion and move from the everyday into a special occasion with the suggestion of indulgence.  For example Fentimans Valencia Orange tonic water.

Fentimans Tonic water

What are the benefits? 

  • you can charge a price premium for a product that is far higher than any increase in COGs
  • a simple packaging re-design enhances perceptions without a drastic product re-formulation

Brand Extension Strategy No. 2: New occasion

Brand Extension Strategy No. 2: New occasion

This can be driven by a change in consumer behaviour. Lockdown is a prime example of this, consumers have had to move away from eating out to eating in, choosing take aways from their favourite restaurants or more indulgent versions of their usual choices. 

Or you may realise that there are other occasions in the lives of your consumer that your brand is well placed to meet but no products exist in your range to fulfil this need.  For example:

President butter
President Sea Salt butter: sea salt crystals for added indulgence and a structure that reflects the more formal format of a butter dish
Soreen Malt
Soreen Lunchbox Loaves: fun mini format for kids

What are the Benefits?

  • The brand extension can often just be a new flavour variant
  • May require a new pack format, but often an off-the-shelf solution that matches the new category expectations can be sufficient to trigger the new usage occasion
  • Or, in the case of Limited Editions, it is simply a beautifully or creatively designed new packaging graphics

Brand Extension Strategy No. 3: Remove the barrier to usage

Brand Extension Strategy No. 3: Remove the barrier to usage

This is where social media and reviews come into their own. You will probably have picked up on some consumer feedback somewhere – a kind friend or a frustrated consumer.
You know there’s a problem with your product that is putting consumers off, so does your brand have the legs to extend into a new product that does away with the problem and presents it as a benefit?
For example:

  • Palmers Cocoa Butter body lotion:
    Problem: polarisingly strong smell.
    Solution: fragrance free – all the benefits of cocoa butter without the smell of cocoa
Balmers Cocoa butter
  • Fruit-tella Juicy Chews:
    Problem: contained gelatine made from skin, cartilage and bone from animals.
    Solution: Gelatin- free Koalas, now attractive to many more mums and teenagers
  • Pieminister:
    Problem: vegetarian pies were made with pastry made with lard or butter.
    Solution: vegan pies, now also suitable for vegans (as well as vegetarians and flexitarians)

What are the benefits? 

  • Whilst this route obviously requires new formulation, it does open up your brand to a whole new target audience with consumers who might be desperate for you to make this move
  • Plus you can create a good PR story
Pieminster plant based kevin

Brand Extension Strategy No. 4: Sustainability

Brand Extension Strategy No. 4: Sustainability

This is a strategy designed to take advantage of the macro sustainability trend.

Not only does extending your brand to launch products that are more sustainable make your consumer feel better about your brand, but it also opens it up to a whole new audience who may have previously rejected it.

We are getting used to seeing examples of reduced use of plastic and a move towards cardboard bottles and paper flow wrap from the giant drink and confectionary brands such Coca Cola and Nestlé.

coca cola paper bottle prototype
Image courtesy of Coca cola

And refill packs are expected by consumers but it’s still surprisingly hard to find brands that offer this option.
For example, Carex have done a great job.

cares eco refill

We expect a refill pack from established eco brands such as Ecover or Method, but seeing it come from a more corporate brand is enterprising and indeed very welcome.

But it’s not just plastic that is using up precious resources and endangering the planet, food waste is also a big issue. 

Here are some examples of brand extension strategies that have enabled companies to help their consumers avoid food waste: 

Heinz Beans
This apparently simple but oh so clever pack doesn’t just provide the ultimate portion control, it also preserves your baked beans for far longer. No wastage whatsoever!
Individual packs not only offer portion easy portability, they ensure Ryvita crispbreads are always enjoyed fresh and crisp.

What are the benefits? 

  • deepens consumer loyalty
  • attracts new consumers

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Once you’ve decided on your brand extension strategies, thinking about how to approach your pipeline-filling ideation session should become easier.

And if you need some tips on how to kickstart some creative thinking, then do read our article ‘how to get your creative juices flowing’.

Should you decide you need a bit of outside help then do have a chat with me. We can help you plan for your ideation session, facilitate the session for you and also develop the ideas that come out of it into concepts.

Call Caroline Hagen on 07789 997748 or email ku.oc.sdnarbhcaer@enilorac