Abstract: The Effect of Number versus Letter Cognition on Consumers’ Evaluations of Alphanumeric Brand Names

SCP Conference, March 2014, Miami FL

Selcan Kara, Co-authors: Kunter Gunasti and Bill Ross

Alphanumeric brand names (ANBs) consist of combinations of letters and numbers either in digit or word form (Pavia and Costa 1993), such as Coke Zero and Audi A4. We examine the effects of alpha and numeric components of ANBs on consumer evaluations of product line extensions. In five experiments, we illustrate the influence of disparities between number and letter cognitions in consumer assessments of line extensions introduced by changing alpha or numeric components of existing brands. Findings suggest ascending letters in ANBs lead to more favorable evaluations of line extensions than descending letters in ANBs. Line extensions are evaluated more favorably when a line extension ANB is formed with a change in number (versus letter) for an existing ANB. We also examine dimensions of this superiority perception, and find that increasing numbers in ANBs anchors consumers, who evaluate line extensions as having improved numeric attributes. This numeric anchoring mediates consumers’ favorable evaluations of ANBs with increased numeric components in comparison to ANBs with increased alpha components.