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Umbrella branding of private labels

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Private labels command a growing share of food retailers' shelf space. In this dissertation, I explain this phenomenon as resulting from "umbrella branding," or the ability of a single brand to reach across categories. Conceptually, I define umbrella

Private labels command a growing share of food retailers' shelf space. In this dissertation, I explain this phenomenon as resulting from "umbrella branding," or the ability of a single brand to reach across categories. Conceptually, I define umbrella branding as a behavioral attribute that describes a shopper's tendency to ascribe a performance bond to a brand, or to associate certain performance characteristics to a private label brand, across multiple categories. In the second chapter, I describe the performance bond theory in detail, and then test this theory using scanner data in the chapter that follows. Because secondary data has limitations for testing behavioral theories, however, I test the performance bond theory of umbrella branding using a laboratory experiment in the fourth chapter. In this chapter, I find that households tend to transfer their perception of private label performance across categories, or that a manifestation of umbrella branding behavior can indeed explain private labels' success. In the fifth chapter, I extend this theory to compare umbrella branding in international markets, and find that performance transference takes its roots in consumers' cultural backgrounds. Taken together, my results suggest that umbrella branding is an important behavioral mechanism, and one that can be further exploited by retailers across any consumer good category with strong credence attributes.

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2014

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Three essays on innovation: optimal licensing strategies, new variety adoption, and consumer preference in a peer network

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It is well understood that innovation drives productivity growth in agriculture. Innovation, however, is a process that involves activities distributed throughout the supply chain. In this dissertation I investigate three topics that are at the core of the distribution

It is well understood that innovation drives productivity growth in agriculture. Innovation, however, is a process that involves activities distributed throughout the supply chain. In this dissertation I investigate three topics that are at the core of the distribution and diffusion of innovation: optimal licensing of university-based inventions, new variety adoption among farmers, and consumers’ choice of new products within a social network environment.

University researchers assume an important role in innovation, particularly as a result of the Bayh-Dole Act, which allowed universities to license inventions funded by federal research dollars, to private industry. Aligning the incentives to innovate at the university level with the incentives to adopt downstream, I show that non-exclusive licensing is preferred under both fixed fee and royalty licensing. Finding support for non-exclusive licensing is important as it provides evidence that the concept underlying the Bayh-Dole Act has economic merit, namely that the goals of university-based researchers are consistent with those of society, and taxpayers, in general.

After licensing, new products enter the diffusion process. Using a case study of small holders in Mozambique, I observe substantial geographic clustering of new-variety adoption decisions. Controlling for the other potential factors, I find that information diffusion through space is largely responsible for variation in adoption. As predicted by a social learning model, spatial effects are not based on geographic distance, but rather on neighbor-relationships that follow from information exchange. My findings are consistent with others who find information to be the primary barrier to adoption, and means that adoption can be accelerated by improving information exchange among farmers.

Ultimately, innovation is only useful when adopted by end consumers. Consumers’ choices of new products are determined by many factors such as personal preferences, the attributes of the products, and more importantly, peer recommendations. My experimental data shows that peers are indeed important, but “weak ties” or information from friends-of-friends is more important than close friends. Further, others regarded as experts in the subject matter exert the strongest influence on peer choices.

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2015