Marketing idea no. 208 – Line extension: How much is too much?

In the world of branding “Number 1” is the phrase that builds brands. But its the sequel to number 1, “The Second Coming”, that brings the big bucks. And there is a fancy name for it. Its called line extension.

The  pulling power of sequels can never be denied. If all the blockbusters are taken into account, it will present a clear picture. The sequel makes more money than the original. Spiderman may have dangled and amazed from the rooftop, but its Spiderman 2 that made more money. Shrek was a family entertainment film with big laughs. But Shrek 2 is the one that brought big money along with the big laughs.

But there is a hidden rule of thumb here. And it goes like this – one will amaze, two will make money, three will bomb. Thats why Batman 1 and 2 was a great success, but when it came to Batman 3 (Batman forever), it bombed in the box office. Same applied to The Matrix, to the X-Men and all the rest of big money earners. Because once the initial film creates the fan, they simply cant wait to get more of the same film and same character. But when it comes to the third installment, usually boredom sets in and the makers run out of fresh ideas.

In the world of line extension, same things happen. You should only extend it to the second level. If you have a successful Lifebouy brand, extend it to make it a Lifebouy Plus. But dont follow it up with another extension called Lifebouy Plus Ultra. Take it to one level extra to build on it. But dont overdo it, unless you have some serious value additions to make, not just mild tinkering of formula.