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The evaluation of a brand association density metric

Marco Vriens (Department of Marketing, University of Wisconsin La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)
Song Chen (Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)
Judith Schomaker (Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Section, Health, Medical and Neuro-psychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 19 February 2019

Issue publication date: 14 March 2019




The purpose of this paper is to propose a new brand association density metric and evaluate its performance in terms of correlations with recall, consideration, brand equity and market share and to compare different data collection methodologies to identify brand associations.


The authors present results from two studies covering three product categories. The authors use an open free association question and associations to a set of pre-defined brand attributes. The responses to the open free format question are text-mined prior to further analysis.


The authors find that the brand association density metric performs better than a metric that only uses the number of distinct associations. The authors also find that these metrics work best when derived from open free association data.

Practical implications

First, in addition to focusing on trying to build specific brand associations in consumers’ minds, it may be equally important, if not more important, to manage the number and inter-connectedness of the brand’s associations. Second, firms should complement their existing survey approaches with open-ended free association questions.


The brand association density concept presented is believed to be new. The empirical comparison between the use of free association to pre-defined attributes is also new.



Conflict of interest: On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

The authors would like to thank Colin Ho and Claudia Meillat for their help with the data collection and coding. The authors would like to thank Professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and productive feedback.


Vriens, M., Chen, S. and Schomaker, J. (2019), "The evaluation of a brand association density metric", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 104-116.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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