Brand Name Types and Consumer Demand: Evidence from China's Automobile Market

Journal of Marketing Research, 56 (1), 158-175

Posted: 7 Apr 2017 Last revised: 25 Jul 2020

See all articles by Fang Wu

Fang Wu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics - School of International Business Administration

Qi Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics-College of Business

Rajdeep Grewal

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Shanjun Li

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management

Date Written: February 1, 2019

Abstract

Brand naming challenges are more complex in logographic languages (e.g., Chinese), compared with phonographic languages (e.g., English), because the former features looser correspondence between sound and meaning. With these two dimensions of sound and meaning, the authors propose a four-way categorization of brand name types for logographic languages: alphanumeric, phonetic, phonosemantic, or semantic. Using automobile sales data from China and a discrete choice model for differentiated products, the authors relate brand name types to demand, with evidence showing that Chinese consumers preferred vehicle models with semantic brand names (7.64% more sales than alphanumeric) but exhibited the least preference for phonosemantic names (4.92% lower sales than alphanumeric). Domestic Chinese firms benefitted from semantic brand names, whereas foreign firms gained from using foreign-sounding brand names. Entry-level products performed better with semantic brand names, and high-end products excelled when they had foreign-sounding brand names. Thus, the four-way categorization of brand name types should help multinational firms and domestic Chinese firms understand and leverage the association between brand name types and consumer demand.

Keywords: Chinese consumers, automobile market, brand name types, consumer demand, discrete choice model, linguistics

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Wu, Fang and Sun, Qi and Grewal, Rajdeep and Li, Shanjun, Brand Name Types and Consumer Demand: Evidence from China's Automobile Market (February 1, 2019). Journal of Marketing Research, 56 (1), 158-175, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2948623 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2948623

Fang Wu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics - School of International Business Administration ( email )

777 Guo-ding Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Qi Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics-College of Business ( email )

777 Guoding Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Rajdeep Grewal (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States

Shanjun Li

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

248 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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