Marketers take heed: When Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" he very well may have been talking to you. New research indicates that a consumer's name--and especially the specific letters in that
name--might influence buying decisions. People like their names and prefer the letters in their names to other letters, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer
Research. C. Miguel Brendl, director of the INSEAD Social Science Research Center in Fountainebleau, France, said his study shows that these preferences affect people's choice of careers and even
spouses. He also found that it is possible to boost the "name letter effect" when consumers are deciding on a brand. For example, people were more likely to pick a product whose name shared letters
with their own when their egos were threatened or when their need was high, such as when they were hungry and had to choose a candy bar. "The name letter effect, of course, is not a very strong
effect," he said. "You can imagine it's very subtle." The broader question, Brendl said, is: "When are people's choices influenced by gut feel?... If you add all of these [instances] up, the result
can be quite substantial."
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