Brain-scanning technology reveals how we process brands and products

Mar 17, 2006

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University use cutting-edge brain-scanning technology to explore how different regions of the brain are activated when we think about certain qualities of brands and products.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first to use fMRI to assess consumer perceptions and has important implications for the use of metaphorical human-like traits in branding.

"[fMRI] allows one to gauge, for the first time, the degree to which the underlying thought processes are similar," write the researchers.

Subjects were given 450 adjectives such as "reliable," "sophisticated," and "cheerful," and scanned while indicating whether each word was applicable to themselves and someone else. The sample group was also scanned while making similar judgments about brands they know and use. The researchers discovered that even when the consumers were judging products on unmistakably human terms, they still used the part of the brain associated with inanimate objects.

"Although we may use similar vocabularies to describe people and products, we can't say that the same concepts are involved," explain the researchers. "Companies building brand images and icons should be wary of taking the legitimately useful metaphor of brand personality too literally, since it's now apparent that consumers themselves do not."

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: 'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Brain of world's first known predators discovered

4 hours ago

An international team of paleontologists has identified the exquisitely preserved brain in the fossil of one of the world's first known predators that lived in the Lower Cambrian, about 520 million years ...

Toward ultimate light efficiency on the cheap

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the University of Michigan have taken a major stride toward perfectly efficient lighting that is also relatively inexpensive and simple to make. The same material can also reveal ...

Tracking the breakup of Arctic summer sea ice

7 hours ago

As sea ice begins to melt back toward its late September minimum, it is being watched as never before. Scientists have put sensors on and under ice in the Beaufort Sea for an unprecedented campaign to monitor ...

Recommended for you

P90X? Why consumers choose high-effort products

9 hours ago

Stuck in traffic? On hold for what seems like an eternity? Consumers often face situations that undermine their feelings of control. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when a person's sense of con ...

Overdoing it: Multiple perspectives confuse consumers

9 hours ago

Television commercials for luxury vehicles pack a lot in their 30-second running times: the camera offers quick shots of the soft leather upholstery, the shiny colors, the state-of-the-art entertainment system, ...

User comments : 0