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Locating brand equity: neural correlates of virtual shopping choices



Authors / Editors

Ambler T;Rose S;Swithenby S

Publication Year



Marketers are fundamentally interested in how consumers make buying decisions. A recent method of non-invasive brain imaging, magneto encephalography (MEG), was used to observe subjects making decisions on a virtual (video) supermarket visit. At each of 90 stops, the subject was invited to choose one of three brands. Package height discrimination between a sub-set of the same stimuli provided a control experiment. Subjects also completed a questionnaire to indicate their familiarity with each of the brands shown in the video. The objectives were to identify brain regions which become differentially engaged when choosing brands, as against discriminating packaging height, and the extent to which familiarity with the brand would affect both the choice and the associated brain processes. As expected, activations in brand choice differed from those for height discrimination and were faster when one brand was more familiar. Brand choice appeared to involve silent vocalization. The right parietal cortex was only activated where the subject indicated strong relative brand familiarity. This therefore appears to be a key location for brand equity both because it is only activated for the most salient brands and because it seems to be linked with intentionality. This is probably the first time brand equity has been located. The paper concludes with the benefits for marketers and marketing research.

Publication Research Centre

Centre for Marketing

Series Number



Centre for Marketing Working Paper

Available on ECCH


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