Article | Social Influence | July 2012

iPhones for Friends, Refrigerators for Family: How Products Prime Social Networks

by Lalin Anik and Michael I. Norton


We show that priming consumers with products associated with specific social networks increases the salience of those networks, influencing both word-of-mouth intentions and consumption. Consumers were exposed to friend- or family-related products (e.g., game consoles or refrigerators); when asked to list the first people they knew who came to mind, they were more likely to list members of primed networks (Study 1). Product priming also increases the speed with which product-relevant individuals come to mind (Study 2). In Study 3, consumers felt subjectively closer to networks primed by specific products, and this felt closeness predicted subsequent word-of-mouth intentions. Finally, Study 4 shows that priming relevant networks (e.g., family or friends) makes products associated with those networks more attractive.

Keywords: Family and Family Relationships; Product; Customers; Familiarity; Social and Collaborative Networks;


Anik, Lalin, and Michael I. Norton. "iPhones for Friends, Refrigerators for Family: How Products Prime Social Networks." Social Influence 7, no. 3 (July 2012): 154–171.