Evaluating the impact of early- and late-acquired phonemes on the luxury appeal of brand names

Abhishek Pathak (Lead / Corresponding author), Gemma Calvert, Carlos Velasco

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Research has shown that marketers can enhance consumers' expectations when a product's attributes are congruent with its packaging, shape, sensory attributes and sound of the brand name (sound symbolism). In the past decade, a reasonable amount of research has focused on sound symbolic attributes of brand names; however, the literature linking the age of acquisition (AoA) of various phonemes, their usage in brand names and their subsequent perception by consumers is lacking. In the present research, we hypothesized that because humans acquire different phonemes at different ages and consequently some phonemes are used more frequently (vs rarely) in everyday conversations and have more concrete (vs abstract) mental representations than late (vs early)-acquired phonemes, this impacts on the way in which brand names are perceived. Specifically, across three experiments, we demonstrate that brand names created from early-acquired phonemes are more suited to basic brands (i.e., brands which are used in an everyday context), whereas brand names created from late-acquired phonemes are more suited for luxury brands. Our research shows an association between the AoA of phonemes, as captured in brand names, and the brand's perceived luxurious appeal. We discuss the results in light of the literature on speech sound development and provide practical implications for brand managers and marketers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)522-545
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Brand Management
    Issue number6
    Early online date18 May 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


    • Luxurious brand name
    • Phonemic age of acquisition
    • Phonetic symbolism
    • Sound symbolism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Marketing


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