Tuesday, 3 September 2013

When Brain Science meets Marketing...






Do we remember the movie ‘Minority Report’ of Tom Cruise where a special police department known as ‘Pre-Crime’ tracked down criminals before they did crimes based on the knowledge provided by psychics? Yes, that day is not too far from now. Since the past few months, many questions have arisen in my mind. As marketeers, can we predict who all are going to purchase my brand? Who will be my future customer? In which geographical location are my future customers? Can I precognize the extent of the possibility of a particular sale's closing? What is that one thing that is needed in order to bring our brand into limelight? What would be the perfect timing and the ways of presentation, not from our perspective but from our target customer's perspective? What needs to be done to make people feel more comfortable in using our brand? From their perspective, what will be the key benefits to our consumers when purchasing our brand? What logical support do we need to provide them to buy our brand? How can we physically engage our consumers beyond communication so that they understand the extent that our product will make their life better? What are the key emotions and feelings that needs to be generated? What brand associations do we need to change or reinforce? Questions are endless.


As days passed, my burning desire to find satisfactory answers to these questions kept increasing and I realized that all our market research is basically based on the externals while having zilch information of the actual consumer's specific subconscious mind. What is going on in the mind of the specific consumer? In which direction is his subliminal thoughts flowing? What are his limiting believes? What are the specific motivating factors in his deep within? From his friends, from the marketing of our competitors, from his own research and through other sources what are the past influences he has had regarding our product? What does he actually want that will satisfy his specific needs? All these information is already there within his subconscious mind, precognizing which, will help the marketeer to custom mold his presentation to help the client commit his decision. As such this "commitment" to go for or not to go for, is made within the customer's mind much ahead of the purchasing moment. Precognizing that info is of vital clue. From the toothpaste one uses in the morning to the last supper of the day, everything is decided by one's subconscious mind. Precognize it and you have the key.

A similar cap worn used by those taking part in the Neuro Experiments


Looking back in 2008, when John-Dylan Haynes from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, demonstrated through his experiment that it is possible to predict our decisions about seven seconds before the subjects had consciously made the decisions. According to him, many processes in the brain occur automatically and without involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our mind from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decision making, we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. But is it really so? At that moment when I read the research report, I felt “Huh! How is this possible?” But now as I think, I can confidently say, “Neuro Marketing is the next big thing that is going to change our industry.” Now, the question is what is neuro marketing? Though it may sound like a jargon but in reality the definition is very simple. To summarize, Neuro marketing is a science which helps us to understand the genuine need of the buyer and predict his behavioural pattern. It may be a product, it may be an advertisement, it may be a song, it may be a movie, and by practicing neuro marketing we can bring an impact into each and every concerned activity that is happening around us. Trust me by not knowing what is neuro marketing, we have already practiced it so many times earlier in our life. Can we spot the arrow between the logo of Fedex which we have seen so many times in our daily life.? Look, how brilliantly they have portrayed their brand message of forwardness through their logo which directly hits our unconscious mind even without knowing it. That’s the magic of Neuro Marketing.


The logo of FedEx


As I am writing this, one of my friends called me up. He asked me to send some documents for doing a research for launching a product. But here I strongly differ to his opinion. If we fail to analyze the preferences or our own behaviour, research is meaningless. When a reporter asked Steve Jobs how much market research is there behind launching the iPad, he said “None, It is not the consumers’ job to know what they want.” The iPad would become the most successful consumer product introduction according to some measures, and Apple the most valuable company of all-time.


Let us start with a game. Sit in a chair and try to draw clockwise 8 with your dominant leg in the air and also perform the same action with your hand. In most of the cases, it has been seen that while hand effortlessly completes the job, the leg is frozen midway or in reverse directions. Why this is happening? When we are using our hands it’s an unconscious activity, we have done this so many times earlier, to be specific, we are in autopilot mode but doing it with legs is a conscious activity where efforts in needed. Brands are nothing but learned behaviours, unconscious automatic intelligence acquired through experience. They simplify our lives by generating choices and action without requiring us to think. Let us look into some case studies and find out what are the ways involved to move ahead in neuro marketing. 

What we do is because of what we feel. We assign value to things through our emotions. Because of the way our brains are wired, emotions influence our thinking more than our thinking influences our emotions. Emotions are also the basis in which powerful memories are formed. And brands are essentially memories or expectations of outcomes based upon past experiences. Do we remember the little boy in the Times of India “I Lead” Campaign ad who is trying to remove the tree trunk from the road so that the traffic can move freely? This ad simply gave a stroke at our emotional chord by influencing our thinking pattern. It has a “feel good” factor in it.



The result: The advertisement become most popular of all the time and reached a view of 11 millions in YouTube. 

Consciousness gives us the exclusive ability to rationally reject an idea if it does not make sense based upon our experiences. Often, in order to act, we need to give ourselves logical permission to voluntarily submit to the emotions and impulses that drive us. I still remember the lines of the Cadbury Dairy Milk Ad “Kuch Khaas hain hum sabhi mein.” If we look at the lines, they are so simple but how strong the message is which it portrays. It gives a chance to everyone to relate their life’s different incidents with the commercial and make everyone to think. “Hey don’t look behind? Even you have something in yourself which makes you special.”




The result: With about above 10 million views in YouTube, the ad became the most favourite ad of the century according to a report which even today everyone remembers. 


Our minds and our memories work by association. Repetition and emotion strengthen these neural associations so that they become automatic. If we want to change perceptions of anything, we have to change our associations. If we look at the “Kuch Meetha Ho jaye” campaign that Cadbury has been doing since a long time, we will understand how associations can change our thinking. The brilliant advertisement which enforces the message of replacing Cadbury as a sweet is indeed a great example to look out for. 





The result: The ad got 20 million views in YouTube and sales of Cadbury increased. 

The mind is what the brain does, it is the brain in action, and it works through a process of pattern recognition. If we want to get attention and shift people’s behavioural patterns, we need to interrupt their perceptual patterns by doing something interesting and different. Do we remember  the Volkswagen advertisement "The Force’ in which the mini Darth Vader was trying to show his powers on his family and failing constantly until he tried it with the car which got started as his father pressed the remote? The moment this action took place, it interrupted our conventional pattern of thinking. According to the man behind this advertising Doug Pran Vaet of Deutsch LA, the ad scored the highest ‘neuro engagement’ score ever.


The Force Volkswagen Advertisement for the new Passat
The result: ‘The Force’ generated 55 million views in you tube with 6.8 billion impressions and the brand won the best car advertisement of the year award with the highest market share record in the past thirty years with two gold at Cannes.

Oppa Gangam Style! We all are familiar with the line. Right? Marcelo Peruzzo who decided to do an experiment with 20 men and 20 women and note down their reactions. They used eye tracking to monitor the eye movements, galvanic skin response to measure the muscular excitement level and facial coding to understand the emotions of those persons watching the video. Using facial recognition software, it was seen that most viewers experienced happiness, sadness and surprise while watching the video, while disgust, fear and anger were insignificant proving the attraction of the video.


Different movements noticed while doing the research

The result: It became the most popular video in the world with a view of more than 10 billion.

Humans gravitate to the known, the safe, and the trusted. Although we are attracted to what is different, we move toward the familiar seeking balance, and rely on predictable patterns not just in our biology but also in our environments. Many brands have tried to portray that we are the safest by using brand ambassadors who shares the same brand value with the company. Do we remember the incident when Cadbury was facing the insect problem how they used Amitabh Bacchan to claim that their product was safe? Recently, I talked with one of my friends who work in Southwest Airlines at America. To his company, employees come first rather than the consumers. The rationale is pretty simple. ‘If we treat our employees’ right, they will treat our consumers’ right. We treat our employees like family and our consumers are guests in our home’ he added.



The result: Southwest Airlines was the largest airline in the world based on the number of passengers that fly the airline each year, and it was not only America’s leading low-cost carrier but was also rated America’s favourite airline by Consumer Reports. 

Even Hollywood is using neuro marketing. Using the results, they found they could predict box office hits. According to Fast Company magazine, ‘If a film’s trailer fails to reach a specific emotional engagement threshold (65), it will very likely generate less than $10 million in revenue on opening weekend.” But a film whose trailer exceeds an engagement threshold of 80 “will very likely earn more than $20 million the first weekend”. Studios such as Fox and Paramount have now started taking neuro marketing very seriously.


According to Steve Sands from El Paso, Texas, who has been spent 20 years of his life in using technologies to look inside our head and show what consumer’s feel, as opposed to what the marketers think we feel. Using EEG tests (essentially a plastic swimming cap complete with electrodes to measure brain signals), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI, which measures brain activity by looking at changes in blood flow), and eye-tracking Neuro Marketing as it is known, has completely revolutionized the worlds of Advertising and Marketing. Sands Research also tests ads before they’ve aired, letting agencies know what works and what doesn’t. According to him, ‘By looking at the EEG readout we can tell whether they’re disengaged or engaged. And we’ve found that storyline wins every time. If you want to lose someone’s attention, have several storylines in your commercial.’


The EEG Shopper

It has taken 20 big years to realize how effective neuro marketing can be. From the day when British psychologist, Dr David Lewis-Hodgson, founded one of the earliest firms, Mindlab International, in the UK in 1988 to 2013 when the research agency Millward Brown announced that its clients Unilever and Coca-Cola will use facial coding technology where emotions can be tracked through facial expressions, what a wonderful glory it has been for the entire world of advertising and marketing. It is high time for us to understand the importance of Neuro Marketing and do a proper implementation of the strategies before spending thousands of rupees in advertising and marketing your product.




Now, The choice is yours!

2 comments:

  1. Shankar,
    Enjoyed this 'Sticker' Story- Story that Sticks to the Brain!
    Reminded me of my MBA Class lectures!
    Marketing Management is gonna rock!

    ReplyDelete