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What's In a Name? The Science behind Product Naming

Posted by Kevin Keating at PKG on December 05, 2016 in brand

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says to her young lover: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Clearly, Juliet was not a marketer.

Can't come up with a good product name? Read on!

Product names matter. Consider these unfortunate product names that actually made their way to grocery shelves:

    • "Soup for Sluts"
    • "Homemade Jam" (Not so bad, until you see the tagline with it - "Tastes Like Grandma".)
    • "Urinal" Hot Tea
    • "Ayds" Diet Candy

These products may cause a chuckle or two, but they were doomed to failure on the grocery shelf. While most product names are not that outrageously wrong, naming your food product well is one of the most important pieces of your marketing strategy.

How Names Affect Customer Perception

A recent MyCustomer article explores the factors that influence consumer perception of a product. Not surprisingly, the name of the product plays a significant role.

For instance, according to the article, in one study consumers were given a sample of the same wine in several glasses. Each glass was given a different name. Participants were asked about the taste of the wine. The most exotic sounding name received the highest rating, inspired the greatest buying intentions and led to most people saying they would pay a higher price for that wine. Ah, the power of a name!

Here is another example. A well-known cereal added "ancient grains" to their labeling, and suddenly consumers were willing to pay 40 cents more for a box of cereal that was actually 2 ounces smaller than the original. Why? Because consumers relate "ancient grains" to simplicity and health. Additionally, it is believed that the term "ancient grains" may evoke a mental picture of exotic locales and rich history. This type of emotional response constitutes marketing gold for a product.

Product Naming Best Practices

There are several factors which must be considered when you are naming a new product. First, you must ensure that the product name fits in with your overall brand messaging. Since brand building is all about telling your unique story to your target audience, it is important that every product you release must fit into that narrative so that it is instantly recognizable as part of your overarching brand.

Your product name should be understandable, evocative, and memorable. Ideally, it should roll off the tongue easily.

Here are some quick tips about how to get started on your product naming mission:

    • Craft a description of your product, including the most important features or highlights.
    • Research competitor's products. If there are similarities between what you are about to offer and what they already offer, be sure not to duplicate any names that are already in use.
    • Looking at your description, play with the words you have listed to see if any of them can be combined or tweaked to fit together in a catchy way.
    • Choose a name that makes sense locally, but remember to make the name something that could be understood globally as well.
    • Use focus groups and consumer insights to help you name your products effectively.

Make sure your product names fits with your overall brand.

PKG's Consumer First™ Approach

Since product naming is so important to the future success of your food product, it is wise to perform due diligence when it comes to learning what consumers really want.

We can help you do that. PKG's Consumer First™ approach relies on a proven, insight-rich process that informs branding and packaging decisions from a consumer point-of-view. We pick the minds of consumers to see what type of product names draw their attention and get a positive response. Contact us today to learn more about our approach and how it can be used to make your products jump off the shelf and into the shopping cart.

 

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