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The most consequential consideration of brands arises during preferential decision making. As a consequence of the repeated pairing of brands and preferential decisions, this research proposes that exposure to brands initiates a cognitive state of readiness for preferential decisions (which we term decision readiness) that subsequently makes preferential decisions easier. Using both real and fictitious brands across a variety of choice contexts, seven experiments demonstrate that consumers find preferential decision making easier when it occurs in the presence (vs. absence) of brands. Consistent with the details of our framework, this effect: (i) is explained by the activation of decision readiness, (ii) leads to outcomes such as increased outcome satisfaction and decreased decision delegation, and (iii) is attenuated when exposure is to only one brand. Collectively, then, these findings demonstrate the importance of exposure to brands for decision making which, in turn, offers unique insight into existing literatures on brand exposure, decision difficulty, and brand roles.

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