Autonomous cars are considered to be the next disruptive innovation that will affect consumers. It can be expected that not only traditional automakers will enter this market (e.g., Ford) but also technology companies (e.g., Google) and newer companies dedicated to self-driving cars (e.g., Tesla). We take a brand extension perspective and analyze to what extent consumers prefer autonomous cars from these brand categories. Our empirical study is based on discrete choice experiments about adopting autonomous vehicles in a purchase scenario and in a renting context. Our findings show that brands play a central role when making autonomous driving decisions. Brand preferences differ systematically when buying versus renting a self-driving car. While technology brands are most preferred overall, consumers favor automaker brands over new brands only when purchasing, not when renting. We further disentangle the brand strength into the marginal effects of image associations. For example, Google’s strong brand positioning can be explained by experiences with the parent brand, but it could still improve brand strength by highlighting the relevance of the associated brand portfolio for self-driving cars. The effect of these brand extension success factors differs between parent-brand categories and also between the renting and purchasing scenarios, which requires a dedicated brand management.
Bibliographical notePublished online: May 13, 2021.
- Autonomous cars
- Brand extension
- Brand image
- Conjoint analysis