The taste of Kit Kat candy bars, Coca-Cola beverages and Jelly Belly candies are known to stimulate cravings and subsequently influence consumers’ spending habits, but now researchers suggest simply hearing the sound of those brands and others with repetitively structured names can induce similar outcomes.
Across several product categories, audible exposure to repetitive-sounding brand names favorably affects how consumers perceive and choose items and decide where to buy them, reveals a study recently published in the Journal of Marketing.
Researchers said their findings provide the first evidence of this discovery, which could prove beneficial for marketers, advertisers and store managers.
“Companies have spent millions of dollars choosing their brands and their brand names and they’ve been picked explicitly to have an influence on consumers,” wrote University of Alberta marketing professor Jennifer Argo. “We show that it can get you at the affective level.”
In one experiment, researchers used identical samples of ice cream but gave them two different names – one that contained repetition and another that did not. Study participants more frequently chose the ice cream with the repetitive-sounding name.
“At a practical level, this research speaks to an increasingly important question that managers are asking: What constitutes a successful brand name?” wrote Argo and other researchers in the study titled “The Sound of Brands.”
Researchers warn, though, too much repetition or repetitive names that don’t follow natural linguistic sounds (for example, a restaurant called “ranthfanth”) can incite negative outcomes.
“You can’t deviate too much from our language, otherwise it will backfire on you,” said Argo, whose studies often deal with subjects related to consumer awareness.
Other repetitive brand names researchers mentioned in the study include Hubba Bubba, Tutti Frutti, Bits & Bites, Lululemon and Tostitos.
Argo notes consumers must be cognizant of the power a brand name can have on their moods and choices. A person indulging in a mood boost through retail therapy, for example, should “plug your ears; don't let anyone talk to you,” she said. Retailers, on the other hand, could decide to take advantage of TV and radio advertisements and their employees to help spread repetitive brand names.
“Given the increased importance of word-of-mouth in determining the success of brands,” researchers wrote, “marketing managers would benefit from encouraging both salespeople and consumers to say aloud brand names that contain phonetic sound repetition.”
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