FEATURE10 April 2019

What do you call it?

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FMCG Features Impact Leisure & Arts North America Trends

Inanimate objects with nicknames are more likely to be looked on favourably by consumers than those that remain nameless, according to new research. By Katie McQuater


My first set of wheels was a bright red Fiat Punto named Holly Golightly, in homage to my favourite film at the age of 18. As humans, the desire to anthropomorphise inanimate objects is a long-enduring trait it seems – and it’s not just our cars; we assign nicknames to everything, from boats to laptops to bikes.

In recent years, brands toying with personalisation have started to get in on the name game, with companies encouraging consumers to come up
with a name for their products. Toyota’s 2015 ‘Mas Que Un Auto’ campaign, for instance, gave Toyota owners free custom nameplates for their cars, while some banks allow customers to set up nicknames for their accounts.

But does naming something increase our affinity for it? Could giving a product a name even make us more likely to buy it? And do these effects extend to naming seemingly mundane, everyday objects?

The phenomenon is the subject of a research paper, published in ...