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Journal Article

Shades of Meaning: The Effect of Color and Flavor Names on Consumer Choice

Elizabeth G. Miller and Barbara E. Kahn
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 32, No. 1 (June 2005), pp. 86-92
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/429602
Stable URL:
Page Count: 7

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Topics: Trade names, Colors, Flavors, Sweaters, Adjectives, Standard error, Curiosity, Names, Marketing, Pragmatics
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Shades of Meaning: The Effect of Color and Flavor Names on Consumer Choice
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Building on Grice’s (1975) theory of “conversational implicature,” we propose that consumers will react favorably to unusual color or flavor names (e.g., blue haze or Alpine snow) because they expect marketing messages to convey useful information. If the message is not informative or does not conform to expectations, consumers search for the reason for the deviation. This search results in additional (positive) attributions about the product, and thus, a more favorable response. The results of a series of experiments provide empirical support for our proposal and rule out some alternative explanations for the success of ambiguous naming strategies.

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