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Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage

Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage

Ruth Pogacar, Justin Angle, Tina M. Lowrey, L.J. Shrum and Frank R. Kardes

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We propose a new mechanism by which the linguistic characteristics of a brand name influence important brand outcomes–attitude and choice–and are associated with brand performance. Specifically, name length, sounds, and stress can signal masculine or feminine gender associations. This research shows that name-based gender associations influence perceived brand warmth, which in turn enhances brand outcomes.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
​​​​Advertising and Promotion; Brand Management; Consumer Behavior; Digital Marketing; Marketing Communications; Marketing Strategy

Full Citation: ​
Pogacar, Ruth, Justin Angle, Tina M. Lowrey, L. J. Shrum, and Frank R. Kardes (2021). Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage. Journal of Marketing

Article Abstract
A brand name’s linguistic characteristics convey brand qualities independent of the name’s denotative meaning. For instance, name length, sounds, and stress can signal masculine or feminine associations. This research examines the effects of such gender associations on three important brand outcomes: attitudes, choice, and performance. Across six studies using both observational analyses of real brands and experimental manipulations of invented brands the authors show that linguistically feminine names increase perceived warmth, which improves brand outcomes. Feminine brand names enhance attitudes and choice share–both hypothetically and consequentially–and are associated with better brand performance. The authors establish boundary conditions, showing that the feminine brand name advantage is attenuated when the typical user is male and when products are utilitarian. 

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Special thanks to Demi Oba and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

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Ruth Pogacar is a doctoral candidate in marketing, Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati.

Justin Angle is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Montana, USA.

Tina M. Lowrey is Professor of Marketing, HEC Paris, France.

L.J. Shrum is Professor of Marketing, HEC Paris, France.

Frank R. Kardes is Donald E. Weston Professor of Marketing, University of Cincinnati, USA.