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February 24, 2009

Does Your Product Naming Pronunciation Sound Risky?

warning-sign.gifSome new research in Psychological Science from The Association for Psychological Science, tells us that human beings tend to find unpronounceable product names risky.

Two made up food items were put head to head, Magnalroxate and Hnegripitrom, and the latter, which is almost impossible to pronounce, was declared by consumers to be the most dangerous. Additionally, a fictional amusement park ride called the "Vaiveahtoishi" was perceived as being more dangerous than the pronounceable "Chunta."

Of course, these finding have obvious implications in the naming and branding business.

Tylenol's scientific name, N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, will certainly have to be hidden from consumers, while tea ingredients including glucopyranosyl-fructofuran may send some consumers running scared.

Even more interesting is that we underestimate the risk attached to items that are familiar sounding. Risk, it turns out, is much more of an intuitive process than we used to think.

This news could not come at a worse time for household cleaning brand names, which already have plenty of suspicion around them.

New legislation may even force name brand cleaners to disclose their chemical ingredients, which would actually be a reactivation of a 1976 New York State law that has been ignored for decades.

My guess is that people won't like the sound of even the safe ingredients, never mind the bad stuff.
However, this is all good news for eco-friendly brand name cleaning products, which often consist of ingredients we know and trust.

One green blogger puts it this way: "The most eco-friendly cleaning products are those where you recognize all of the ingredients on the label and know they are harmless."

Brand names like Green Irene use the slogan "Simple. Pure. Clean." to convey this message, while other products are given the Green Seal of approval by third parties.

In the end, it may be the simplicity around the brand names of these products that give them an advantage, rather than their eco-friendliness.

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Posted by William Lozito at February 24, 2009 9:23 AM
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