The idea may be "unpalatable", but companies seeking an edge over their rivals should ensure that children are exposed to their brands as early in life as possible.
This was demonstrated by presenting students with a range of real and fictional brand names and asking them to indicate as quickly as possible whether a brand was real. If a brand had been experienced from birth, the students were quicker to recognise it as real than if it had been encountered from age five and up. A second experiment showed that students were also quicker at accessing information about early encountered brands compared with late-encountered brands, as indicated by the speed with which they said a product was or was not made by a given brand.
These findings resemble classic "age-of-acquisition" effects, in which people are more proficient at processing words they encountered earlier in life.
Combined with prior research showing that people generally feel more favourable towards words and pictures that they find easier to process - a phenomenon called the "fluency effect".
BPS Research Digest: Brands leave their mark on children's brains