Article | Journal of Marketing Research (JMR)

Positioning Brands Against Large Competitors to Increase Sales

by Neeru Paharia, Jill Avery and Anat Keinan


We explore the effect of having a large dominant competitor and show the conditions under which focusing on a competitive threat, rather than hiding it, can actually help a brand. We demonstrate through lab and field studies that highlighting a large competitor's size and close proximity can help smaller brands instead of harming them. We find that support for small brands goes up when faced with a competitive threat from large brands, versus when they are in competition with brands that are similar to them, or when consumers view them outside of a competitive context. This support translates into purchase intention, real purchase, and more favorable online reviews in a study of over 10,000 Yelp posts. We argue that this "framing the game effect" is mediated by consumers' motivation to express their views and have an impact on the marketplace through their purchasing.

Keywords: marketing; Brands; brands and branding; brand management; brand positioning; competitive positioning; Brands and Branding; Marketing; Marketing Strategy; Consumer Products Industry; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Air Transportation Industry; United States;


Paharia, Neeru, Jill Avery, and Anat Keinan. "Positioning Brands Against Large Competitors to Increase Sales." Journal of Marketing Research (JMR) 51, no. 6 (December 2014): 647–656. (Lead article.)