Monday, November 18, 2013

What's in a Name?

Consumers make purchasing decisions based on many different factors. For example, we have all bought a product because it is on sale, because we liked the packaging, or because we are curious to try it. However, have you ever chosen one product over another simply because the name of the product sounds male or female? Or have you chosen a product because of the letters in the name, regardless of price or appearance? Chances are that most of us have done just that.

Research shows that a woman is more likely to choose a product with a feminine name over a product with a male-sounding name, likewise with men. Marketers are aware of such statistics, and it is not uncommon to find products intended for men with names such as Axe, Mach 3, and Nivea Men. Would less men buy those exact same products if they were named Pam deodorant, Poise razors, and Soft skin lotion? I personally use those three products, but I might have been a bit reluctant if they had feminine-sounding names.

In addition, customers also make purchase decisions based on what letters are used in the product name. For example, men prefer products with names that use the vowels"o" and "u", while women choose products that use the vowels "e" and "i." In an experiment, both men and women were shown a list of word pairs that were potential product names. They were then told to choose which of the two names was a better choice for a new product. Time and time again, men had a tendency to choose product names such as "Tober" over "Tiber", and "Mogle" over "Migle." More times than not, females chose the opposite name, siding with product names that did not use the vowels "o" and "u". Furthermore, the results proved that women were more receptive to product names than men. This fact does not surprise me at all, because women tend to be more attentive to details, while men are likely to overlook small details. The findings concur that marketers should pay extra close attention when naming their products, especially if they are targeting women.

Researchers and marketers spend millions of dollars to try and convince you to choose their product over their competitors' products. Consumers have more choices now than ever, so companies need to get as much of an advantage as possible. The worst thing that they can do is have consumers overlook their products simply because of the product name they chose. Next time you are at a supermarket, pay close attention to products similar to the ones that you usually purchase. Why do you not choose that product? If the product had a different name would you consider it?

  1. Richard R. Klink
    Marketing Letters 
    Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 2009), pp. 313-326
    Published by: Springer
    Stable URL:

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