In marketing, a “fighter brand” is a lower priced offering launched by a company to take on, and ideally take out, specific competitors that are attempting to underprice them. Unlike traditional brands that are designed with target consumers in mind, fighter brands are created specifically to combat competition threatening to take market share away from a company's main (premium) brand. Properly executed, a fighter brand fends off low-cost rivals while allowing a company’s premium brand to stay above the fray. But the long list of failed fighter brands shows how hard they are to pull off.
Use of a fighter brand is one of the oldest strategies in branding, tracing its history to cigarette marketing in the 19th century. The strategy is most often used in difficult economic times. As customers trade down to lower priced offers because of economic constraints, many managers at mid-tier and premium brands are faced with a classic strategic conundrum: should they tackle the threat head-on and reduce existing prices, knowing it will reduce profits and potentially “commodify” the brand? Or should they maintain prices, hope for better times to return, and in the meantime lose customers who may never come back? With both alternatives often equally unpalatable, many companies choose the third option of launching a fighter brand.
A manager will probably never encounter a strategy as tempting or potentially ruinous as a fighter brand. Cannibalization of the existing premium brand must be carefully considered, making sure that the value equation between the two brands is suitably distinct in the mind of the customer. It is crucial to make sure that the fighter brand is competitive enough to damage the enemy and profitable enough to continue to do so over the long haul. Strategic implications concerning resources should be considered carefully in a period when focus and investment are crucial.