The first seconds of the brand effects: Investigation of the conscious and unconscious mechanisms of the effects of brands on preferences: an eye-tracking experiment

Dalia Bagdziunaite

Student thesis: Master thesis


The main concern of the branding field is to understand brand information effects on decision making. Brands affect the consumers from the first seconds they are exposed to them. Brand knowledge creates the expectancy that consequently leads to the subjective feeling enhanced by the brand as well as motivated buying behaviour. Brand value computation is a complex process comprising both the conscious and unconscious brand activity. This process is ruled by emotions that are considered as implicit automatic reactions. Branding professionals and scholars of different fields are witnessing the emergence of new approaches explaining the neuropsychological mechanisms of the brand effects on preferences. Thus, this thesis examines the conscious and unconscious dimensions of these processes exemplifying the case on the fashion market. The study builds on a range of literature specifically focusing on brand equity theories and knowledge deducted from the modern cognitive neuroscience views. Behavioural and physiological methods are employed to investigate how brands can bias product preference; what the emotional and cognitive reactions involved in processing of brand and product information that can manifest brand effects are; and to what extend these effects can operate without conscious awareness. For these purposes a laboratory eye-tracking experiment, consisting of two conscious and unconscious outfit rating tasks, was run. Here, first of all, brands were manipulated under the conscious awareness employing the priming procedure. Afterwards, brands were presented simultaneously with fashion clothing. The findings of the study have shown that brand preference can positively bias the product preference in both the conscious and unconscious perspectives. The significant relationship between the pupil dilation and brand liking as well as outfit preference suggested that brands induce automatic emotional reactions. Changes in visual attention, where conscious brand exposition with fashion clothing enhanced faster attention towards the clothing and longer time spent looking at the brand, provided valuable information about how value encoded in the brands affects the processing of brand and product information. Furthermore, it has been shown that time spent looking at the product may be an efficient predictor of choice. The unconscious experiment demonstrated the unconscious branding effects. This led to new insights informing the academic and corporate fields about the internal mechanisms of brand effects on preferences.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages120