Branding the Innovation: A Consumer Neuroscience Investigation of the Modulating Effect of Brands on Innovation Preference

Iben Diamant & Frederik Bo Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the crucial importance of innovation, the rapid and exponential growth of technology, high failure rates of innovation and scant understanding of branded innovation, this thesis investigates how branding modulate the uncertainty of innovation choice and affect consumer preference. Specifically, this thesis aims to examine how established and novel brands influence the conscious and unconscious evaluations and perceptions of consumers towards innovations, by modulating uncertainty. Although contributing with valuable insights, traditional perspectives on innovation and branding are subject to criticisable assumptions of consumers as rational actors and to a lack of interest in the unconscious and emotional mechanisms driving consumer preferences. Further, although established brands are considered the preferred brand strategy to introduce innovations, recent studies have shown that early adopters prefer novel brands to established brands. To challenge traditional approaches and to extent our knowledge of consumer preferences of branded innovation, we suggested the implementation of consumer neuroscience and build our research on knowledge and theories deduced from this field. To investigate how brands bias innovation preference, we have employed behavioural and physiological measurements adopted from consumer neuroscience to infer conclusions about the cognitive and emotional responses towards branded innovation. Therefore, a stationary eye-tracking experiment was conducted, consisting of an A and B experiment with rating tasks, designed to manipulate whether participants was exposed to novel or established brands. The innovations coupled with novel brands in experiment A, was coupled with established brands in experiment B and vice versa. The thesis study finds that established brands can positively affect innovation preference on a conscious level, however, because of implications to our study design and eye-tracking measurement, we are unable to accurately conclude how consumers are biased unconsciously. However, this finding does not exclude the unconscious influence of established brands on innovation preference. We attribute our finding of established brands modulating innovation preference to enhanced familiarity, reduced uncertainty and increased ability of consumers to categorize the innovation. Further, we are unable to replicate previous findings that early adopters prefer novel brands to established brands, however we do not provide conclusive evidence to the contrary. Lastly, the study provides valuable insight in informing marketing academia and practice on how brands modulate consumer preference for innovation.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages157