Show Details

Name Brands

December 7, 2005

As you do your holiday shopping, you may have many reasons why you reach for one brand over another. But you may be surprised to learn that the letters in a product’s name may influence you, too.


Finding yourself in brand names. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When they’re thirsty, Connies commonly crave Coke, while Pierres primarily prefer Pepsi. This according to consumer psychologist Miguel Brendl of the INSEAD Social Science Research Center in France.

He and his colleagues asked people to choose between two kinds of tea. They found that people preferred brands that shared three letters with their own name.

MIGUEL BRENDL (INSEAD Social Science Research Center, France):
When we asked them why they chose the tea, not a single person mentioned anything having to do with that kind of a naming issue; they said reasonable things like taste, color, strength of brew, and so on.

In reality, though, the teas were virtually identical. And although the effect is small, statistics show that we’re also more likely to choose hometowns, spouses, and even careers that share our initials. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.