Brain-scanning technology reveals how we process brands and products

March 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: Improving the view on the genetic causes of retinitis pigmentosa

Related Stories

Ants need work-life balance, research suggests

January 16, 2017

As humans, we constantly strive for a good work-life balance. New findings by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology suggest that ants, long perceived as the workaholics of the insect world, do the same.

Researchers identify source of opioids' side effects

January 17, 2017

A commercially available drug may help drastically reduce two side effects of opioid painkillers—a growing tolerance and a paradoxical increased sensitivity to pain—without affecting the drugs' ability to reduce pain, ...

Who needs stress? We all do. Here's why

January 17, 2017

If you could do something to decrease your risk of memory failure, to increase your self-confidence, to be a better public speaker, to improve your brain, to help you deal with back pain, to bust out of your comfort zone, ...

Recommended for you

ALMA reveals sun in new light

January 17, 2017

New images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) reveal stunning details of our Sun, including the dark, contorted center of an evolving sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth.

Galaxy murder mystery

January 17, 2017

It's the big astrophysical whodunnit. Across the Universe, galaxies are being killed and the question scientists want answered is, what's killing them?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.