Imagine the possibilities if marketing had the means to measure consumers’ deepest, unconscious desires and emotional triggers. Now imagine possessing the capability to measure, interpret, and apply such consumer behaviour insights throughout the development process.
This isn’t the stuff of marketing dreams. Biometrics and similar capabilities have been in development since 2000, but recent updates have boosted adoption—aligning with the emerging trend away from big, ad hoc final studies, to an agile culture of frequent, little-and-often interventions.
Brands and their agencies are now recognising the creative and commercial benefits afforded by embedding iterative, test-and-learn capabilities and neuro-optimisation of work-in-progress during development.
A Re-Appraisal Of Planning And Evaluating
The impact is such that consumer behaviour models are being rewritten to reflect new evidence of how perception is shaped and decision-making is guided at the nonconscious level.
Neuro and biometric testing methodologies are being adapted for the marketing industry. Crucially, they are providing new ways of seeking, interpreting, and applying insights and, ultimately, a means of fuelling growth strategies.
Yet marketers embracing this approach must prepare for a highly disruptive, challenging journey. Aware that much human behaviour operates at a non-conscious/emotional level, marketers are rechannelling resources. They are getting smarter at identifying the things that really make a difference in triggering the intended responses from their marketing initiatives—the real “lever pullers.”
The challenge, of course, is that because these levers operate predominantly below the level of our consciousness, consumers are not even aware of them.
And the traditional approaches, which have informed our marketing research and insight research tools for the past 50 years, simply can’t access much of this vital information.
Neurometrics Moves Beyond The Lab
P&G and Unilever were early pioneers in measuring the nonconscious, using lab-based experiments to evaluate marketing material with fMRI and EEG neuroscience scanners.
Since then, techniques—such as biometrics, mostly applied to copy testing and final pack design evaluation—have broadened and penetrated wider. Now, complex protocols, high costs, and slow turnaround are a thing of the past. Today’s neurometric techniques are slick and easy, so adoption has grown and the newest wave of neuro-tools has changed things dramatically, migrating out of labs and into homes, tablets, and smartphones.
Facial-coding, eye-tracking, and various forms of implicit association testing have moved online, bringing speed—even same-day or real-time results—and global scalability. This fast-paced world of consumer neuroscience will continue to evolve swiftly and radically.
What Does All This Mean For Marketing Leaders?
Quite simply, it can mean a complete reset of how to conceive, brief, and deliver marketing activity.
It can mean a seismic shift in research processes and, with it, a rebasing of benchmarks to assess which new ideas to progress.
It can allow a re-appraisal of how and where to invest funds judiciously, and how propositions and creativity are optimised for greater impact and efficiency.
Experts in consumer neuroscience applications talk about rewriting the traditional “rules of engagement” with consumers, and envision creating neuro-best practices as the space evolves.
Typically, efforts are focused where traditional research tools have found it hardest to predict or explain consumer response—areas of primarily emotion-based propositions, innovation, creativity, and design. Additionally, there’s growing interest in things such as multi-sensory and experiential, which have always been difficult to test with traditional approaches.
Consumer-led global businesses are the fastest adopters, followed closely by consumer electronics, financial services, automotive, media, leisure, and entertainment sectors. Pioneers are trialling new techniques before making decisions to blend new and traditional approaches.
The field of applied mind-science is developing fast, bringing exciting opportunities to overhaul and improve business growth strategies. An appreciation of new cognitive science thinking and readiness to integrate that with best practice application are becoming an increasingly valuable capability.