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The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the name of the product - in terms of the phonetic speech sounds - conveys sensory (appearance, odours, basic tastes, flavours, textures, mouthfeeling and aftertastes) associations to consumers. Moreover, the existence of conceptual associations to the sound of the product's name was also analysed, in order to add a further level of analysis to the crossmodal interaction. Participants assessed three pairs of sandwiches, culturally defined by specific names, in a novel and traditional form, and rated them using four pencil-and-paper based line bipolar scales.The results revealed that the sounds of the product names were associated with both sensory and conceptual attributes. Consumers associated a different sounding name (and different sensory-conceptual attributes) to the novel food product than to those suggested by its traditional form.These findings have a number of important implications for the naming, branding, and advertising of food products - both traditional and novel. Marketers can enhance their consumers' product experiences by ensuring that the sound symbolism of the product name, sets up the right (i.e., congruent) product-related sensory and cognitive expectations in the mind of the consumer. Hence, these findings suggest that when innovation occurs in a new food product, companies should think carefully about whether to modify the name of the food product as well.The study constitutes an advance in sound symbolism knowledge as it broadens the known associations to appearance, odour, basic taste, flavour, texture, mouthfeeling and aftertaste sensory attributes. The findings, indicating the central and fundamental role of the product name in and of itself in the multisensory product experience, constitute also an advance in the consumer product perception. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Food Research International

Publication Date





760 - 771