Standard Article


Part 1. Marketing Strategy

  1. Dwight R. Merunka

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem01008

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Merunka, D. R. 2010. Cannibalism. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 1.

Author Information

  1. Paul Cézanne University Aix-Marseille and Euromed Management, Marseille, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


In a sales context, cannibalism refers to the extent to which sales of one product occur at the expense of other products from the same brand or sold by the same company. Sales or margins generated through new-product introductions may not result in increased overall sales or profit improvements if these new products cannibalize existing products. Yet the concept of cannibalism should be extended to firm's current investments and capabilities, including their willingness to cannibalize, which refers to the firm's disposition to cannibalize its prior investments and current organizational know-how beyond the sales of its current products. Willingness to cannibalize drives radical product innovation, which implies that the cannibalization of current products and technologies may be a desirable strategy that favors radical innovations and new-product introductions and determines firm's long-term success in the marketplace. The concept of cannibalism thus is important for brand management and innovation management, as well as for channel management.


  • cannibalism;
  • substitutability;
  • new products;
  • innovation;
  • assortment;
  • brand management;
  • product lines