Understanding the influence of literacy on consumer memory: The role of pictorial elements

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This research examines the relationship between literacy and consumer memory. The effects of a variety of stimuli at exposure (i.e., brand names, brand signatures, and products in usage) on memory (i.e., recognition, stem-completion tasks) were examined for a range of literacy. In a series of experiments, we find that the use of pictorial representations of brands (i.e., brand signatures) results in superior brand memory for individuals with lower literacy levels when compared to those at higher literacy levels. This effect is shown to occur not due to pictorial elements per se, but due to pictorial elements with a 1-to-1 correspondence with reality, i.e., which match the form in which they were originally encoded in memory. Moreover, this effect does not persist with stimulus-rich pictures of brands in usage, pointing to boundary conditions with the use of pictorial information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-402
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Functional literacy
  • Low-literacy
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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