New paper on decoding brand personality

Congratulations to Yuping Chen, whose paper has been conditionally accepted at Journal of Marketing Research! The study used fMRI and model-based MVPA methods to decode consumers' thoughts to well-known commercial brands.

From “Where” to “What”: Distributed Representations of Brand Associations in the Human Brain

Yuping Chen, Leif Nelson, and Ming Hsu

Considerable attention has been given to the notion that there exists a set of human-like characteristics associated with brands, referred to as brand personality. Here we combine newly available machine learning techniques with functional neuroimaging data to characterize the set of processes that give rise to these associations. We show that brand personality traits can be captured by the weighted activity across a widely distributed set of brain regions previously implicated in reasoning, imagery, and affective processing. That is, as opposed to being constructed via reflective processes, brand personality traits appear to exist a priori inside the minds of consumers, such that we were able to predict what brand a person is thinking about based solely on the relationship between brand personality associations and brain activity. These findings represent an important advance in the application of neuroscientific methods to consumer research, moving from work focused on cataloguing brain regions associated with marketing stimuli to testing and refining mental constructs central to theories of consumer behavior.