How Language Affects Consumers’ Processing of Numerical Cues
Kara S.*, Gunasti K.*, Ross W., Duclos R., How Language Affects Consumers’ Processing of Numerical Cues, Journal of Consumer Behavior, *equal contribution, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020
Date Written: August 31, 2020
We show that linguistic numeral structures affect consumers’ comparative evaluations of numbers, prices, and alphanumeric brand names. For example, 80 (eighty) in English is perceived as 4x20 (quatre-vingts or four twenties) in French and as 8x10 (ba-shi or eight tens) in Chinese. Thus, the difference between 80 and 20 is expressed with different degrees of numerosity, the number of units into which a stimulus is divided: (i) 2x10 vs. 8x10 in Chinese, (ii) 20 vs. 4x20 in French, or (iii) simply 20 vs. 80 in English. In four studies involving a total of 732 bilinguals who speak two of these three languages, we examine how different linguistic properties can lead to differences in comparison of numerical values and inferences made about product attributes. We demonstrate the mediating role of numerosity induced by certain linguistic structures while ruling out alternative explanations for this phenomenon such as cultural differences, processing fluency, and numeracy. Our research contributes to literature on number cognition, numerosity, branding, and linguistics while providing insights for international marketers by encouraging practitioners to use different numbers in their marketing, branding, and pricing efforts in ways that best fit the linguistic structure of the country in which they sell a product.
Keywords: language, numerical cognition, brands, international marketing, consumer behavior, numbers
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