Publication Date

8-2007

Abstract

The regional In-N-Out burger chain is at a crossroads. With the passing of its matriarch, a new generation of owners is considering speeding up the company's growth, franchising the company, and expanding its product to a national audience. The question is, How will existing customers respond to the chain's expansion? In this context, the childhood memory elicitation method allows researchers to understand how consumers initially formed their relationships with a brand (or product). The age at which consumers formed a relationship with In-N-Out affects their view of the prospective expansion. Those who formed an early attachment were comfortable with expansion plans, but those who became attached as adolescents considered the expansion to be a violation of their view of the company as their trendy, exclusive club. The authors discuss the results specifically for the In-N-Out situation and more generally for other companies looking for methods or measurements to augment their research toolkit.

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© Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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