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Target Jim and Mary

September 17, 2008  

Research has uncovered quite an interesting effect that guides customer brand choices. They call it the "name letter branding effect." The NLB effect shows that customers are more likely to choose a brand name that has the same letters as their first name than they are other, equally attractive, brands. For example, if your name is Jonathan, you might prefer a Japanese tea called Jonoki over one called Elioki. But if your name is Elizabeth, you'd prefer Elioki.

Why is this so? One reason is that we like things that are, well, like us. And we apparently transfer personal name preferences to brands.

The message here for marketers? Time to brush up on the most common names in the US. It might help you name your next new product. Here are the current Top Ten American first names, in descending order, according to www.namestatistics.com:

  • Male Names: James, John, Robert, Michael, William, David, Richard, Charles, Joseph, Thomas.
  • Female Names: Mary, Patricia, Linda, Barbara, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Maria, Susan, Margaret, Dorothy.

Of course, if you're targeting a young audience, it might be best to check out popular baby names over the past few decades. The Social Security Administration Baby Names website has a cool search tool that finds the top names in specific birth years.


The Po!nt: What's in a name? A lot! You might want to consider the impact of customers' first names on their product preferences.

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