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Using sublexical priming to enhance brand name phonetic symbolism effects in young children


  • Stacey M. Baxter

    () (The University of Newcastle)

  • Jasmina Ilicic

    (Monash University)

  • Alicia Kulczynski

    (The University of Newcastle)

  • Tina M. Lowrey

    (HEC Paris)


Abstract We examine whether phonetic symbolism effects are conditional on the development of phonological awareness (an ability to recognize sounds in words). Further, we introduce sublexical priming as a means to enhance phonetic symbolism effects. Across four experiments, we demonstrate that product evaluations, consistent with phonetic symbolism theory, are more (less) likely when a child is older (younger). Specifically, older children who can recognize sounds in words perceive back vowel brand names (e.g., Vopoz) as slower, heavier, larger, smoother, creamier, chewier, and thicker than brand names with front vowel sounds (e.g., Vipiz). In addition, we show that phonetic symbolism effects manifest when younger children (low in phonological awareness) are primed to focus on parts of a word/s, which we term sublexical priming. We present embedded tasks and chunking of brand names as strategic communication techniques that can be implemented as sublexical primes to enhance phonetic symbolism effects in younger children.

Suggested Citation

  • Stacey M. Baxter & Jasmina Ilicic & Alicia Kulczynski & Tina M. Lowrey, 2017. "Using sublexical priming to enhance brand name phonetic symbolism effects in young children," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 565-577, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:28:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11002-017-9430-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s11002-017-9430-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:eee:ijrema:v:31:y:2014:i:4:p:448-451 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stacey Baxter & Jasmina Ilicic & Alicia Kulczynski, 2015. "What’s in a name? Examining the effect of phonetic fit between spokesperson name and product attributes on source credibility," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 525-534, December.
    3. Tina M. Lowrey & L. J. Shrum, 2007. "Phonetic Symbolism and Brand Name Preference," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 406-414, June.
    4. Keith S. Coulter & Robin A. Coulter, 2010. "Small Sounds, Big Deals: Phonetic Symbolism Effects in Pricing," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 315-328, August.
    5. Richard Klink & Gerard Athaide, 2012. "Creating brand personality with brand names," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 109-117, March.
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