Brand names subconsciously afftect people's shopping goals

Jul 17, 2008

Even 60 milliseconds of exposure to a brand name such as Wal-Mart or Tiffany can alter consumers' subconscious goals, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Tanya L. Chartrand, Joel Huber (both Duke University), Baba Shiv (Stanford University), and Robin J. Tanner (University of Wisconsin) examined goals that are triggered when consumers shop.

"Results suggest that simple exposure to brand names has the potential to activate goals which then influence choices," write the authors. "This data thus opens the door to an intriguing new way to think about the role and power of brands."

The research suggests that goals can be triggered without consciousness. In other words, passing a discount store on the way to the sporting good store might affect an eventual purchase.

In a series of four studies, the researchers had participants complete scrambled sentence tasks designed to subconsciously activate either "thrift" or "prestige" goals. In subsequent studies, participants completed those tasks and were then asked to make choices among various product brands. In the authors' final study, participants viewed numbers on a computer screen while U.S. retail brand names flashed on the edge of their field of vision. Those brand names were associated with prestige (Tiffany, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom) or thrift (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Dollar Store). Those 60-millisecond flashes influenced the participants' choices of socks or microwaves.

"To the best of our knowledge, this provides the first evidence that such brands can automatically activate purchase goals in individuals and that these goals can influence consumers' product preferences without their awareness or conscious intent," the authors conclude.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Oceanographer Ballard elected to American Academy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fear hackers? Sochi is little worse than elsewhere

Feb 07, 2014

How safe is Sochi for your electronics and personal data? The games, like nearly all international events, have sparked a series of online calls to arms, with various branches of the nebulous Anonymous movement pledging action ...

NHK shows downsized Super Hi-Vision video camera

May 28, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NHK this week placed on exhibit a shoulder-mount camera, developed in cooperation with Hitachi, capable of shooting what NHK calls super high vision (SHV) video in 7680×4320 resolution. ...

No-glasses 3-D technology to showcase at CES 2012

Dec 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Stream TV Networks plans to introduce a line of products that feature 3-D viewing without glasses. What’s so special about its announcement, on top of scores of 3-D-without-glasses announcements? ...

Recommended for you

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

3 hours ago

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

Residents of 'boom time' suburbs face unsustainable commutes

5 hours ago

People living in the 'boom time' suburbs of Dublin are more likely to endure unsustainable commutes to work than those living in older accommodation. Research shows that people living in newly constructed housing in the Greater ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...