You and Us: Causal Effects of Language Use on Consumers’ Perceptions of Brands

Aner Sela, Stanford University
Christian Wheeler, Stanford University
Three studies examine how subtle variations in language use can significantly affect consumers’ attitudes toward real-world brands. The studies indicate that customers and non-customers react in opposite directions to seemingly inconsequential pronoun variations in persuasive messages. Moreover, the effect of pronoun use on consumers’ attitudes can reverse as a function of the specific brand domain (e.g., banking vs. healthcare). These moderated effects are found to be mediated by perceptions of brand honesty. These findings demonstrate the unexplored role of language in persuasion and highlight the fact that customers and non-customers may extract divergent meanings from minor language variations.
[ to cite ]:
Aner Sela and Christian Wheeler (2008) ,"You and Us: Causal Effects of Language Use on Consumers’ Perceptions of Brands", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1027-1027.