Word Association Test

There are a number of ways of using word association tests:

  • A list of words or phrases can be presented in random order to respondents, who are requested to state or write the word or phrase that pops into their mind;
  • Respondents are asked for what word or phrase comes to mind immediately upon hearing certain brand names;
  • Similarly, respondents can be asked about slogans and what they suggest;
  • Respondents are asked to describe an inanimate object or product by giving it "human characteristics" or associating descriptive adjectives with it.

For example, a group of tourism professionals working on establishing a strategic marketing plan for their community were asked to come up with personality traits or "human characteristics" for the villages as well as the cities within their area:


  • Serene
  • Conservative
  • Quaint
  • Friendly
  • Accessible
  • Reliable


  • Brash
  • Rushed
  • Liberal
  • Modern
  • Cold

Most of the tourism industry representatives came from the cities and had strongly argued that the urban areas had historically been neglected in promotional campaigns. As a result of this and other exercises, they came to the realization that the rural areas were a strong feature of the overall attractiveness of the destination and needed to be featured as key elements in any marketing campaign.

Related Readings (Kumar, V., Aaker, D.A. & Day, G.S. (1999). Essentials of Marketing Research. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; Rotenberg, R.H. (1995). A Manager's Guide to Marketing Research, Toronto: Dryden; Zikmund, W.G. (1997). Exploring Marketing Research, 6th edition. Orlando: The Dryden Press)