Faculty Research: Consumer Reactions to Round Numbers in Brand Names

Marketing Letters (forthcoming)

Kunter Gunasti and Timucin Ozcan.

In a recent research Kunter Gunasti and his-coauthor show that consumers prefer products labeled with brand names including round numbers (e.g., Centrum 100 multivitamins) to those including non-round numbers (e.g., Centrum 103). A systematic investigation of alphanumeric brand names used in numerous product categories indicates that round numbers such as 10, 50, 100, etc. are over-represented in the marketplace. Regardless of the product category, consumers have more favorable judgments and higher preferences of brand names including round numbers.

Nine empirical studies examining this effect show that the favorability of round numbers cannot be simply explained by their familiarity, popularity, divisibility or magnitude, because round numbers can compete against highly popular (e.g., Heinz 57), very familiar (e.g., 18, 21, 911), highly divisible (e.g., 96), category relevant (e.g., 69 in condoms) and even larger non-round numbers included in brand names. Dr. Gunasti reports that there is something special about round numbers. Because they are often used to refer to some benchmarks to be reached and targets to be completed, round numbers are associated with a “completeness” concept. Accordingly, when consumers are exposed to brand names including round numbers, they perceive the products as more complete, possessing all the required features.  These product associations lead to more favorable consumer responses and higher preferences of brand names with round numbers. Thus, marketers have an opportunity to alter consumer judgments of product efficacy and increase the likelihood of purchases simply by changing the numbers in brand names.

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