Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA)

Articles and Blogposts

  • April 20, 2015 11:26 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Guenther A. Mohr, Business Xcel

    Improved Business Intelligence by compacting brand and product-related business communication to obtain brand leadership.

    In B2B and B2C, communication between market participants is mostly reduced to pure technical content. Neuroscience-based communication techniques can be used to enlarge market share and brand image. It is desirable to analyze and understand the ways in which competitors approach their customers and markets. Understanding the structures, communication elements and the wording of the market segments identifies huge possibilities to rapidly increase a company’s own market share through improved brand awareness and customer loyalty. The key elements of customer-related communication (text, images, color, sound, haptic impulses, design and packaging to name a few) are derived from public information about the competition. Our proprietary methods compact all information data into quantifiable factors, which are believed to be responsible for success. These factors including brand metrics are used to generate the DNA of the market as such and by competitor. It is possible to better reach customers through neuroscience-based communication. This will enable maximum market and brand dominance, and market leadership, to be obtained faster and more securely than with classical communication methods.

    Approach
    The approach mentioned above is based on the fact that purchasing decisions are predominantly based on written content in the form of text, images, video and sound. Additional key factors stem from haptic perception, design (shape, form, function) and are color and pattern-based, to mention some elements. It can be assumed that these communication elements, plus the intensity and the volume of the communication flow delivered to customers, contribute to the final market share. The availability of total market information can be interpreted as a method of crowd funding and has embedded swarm intelligence.

    We have tested and validated the approach with several industry clients. The same approach was applied as part of the assessment of the recent federal elections of the German government. In all cases the results were highly surprising and demonstrate proof of principles. We are probably the only party to have forecasted the surprising success of Chancellor Merkel in this election with an unprecedented precision several days before the election took place. We use computer-based tools to collect high volumes of product, service and brandrelated information. Data compression then separates information into emotional and other clusters, while language analysis helps to set weight and priorities for the determination of key factors which are most likely to dominate decisions.

    Assessment of entire sectors of industry and at competitor level reveals open opportunities in communication to your customers. We assume that neuroscience-based information delivery expressly to predetermined brain types outperforms different forms of communication between market partners, be it companies, non-governmental or government organizations and the public. The described principles are based on automated language analysis, proprietary algorithms and conclusions from the behavior of artificial neural networks.

    Results

    The results show that the methods applied uncover communication gaps missed by the other market players. Brands can be quantified in strength, weight, ranking and number of factors contributing to success. Filling gaps in the typical industry-specific vocabularies provides ultimate opportunities to gain the highest brand attention. Sending messages to specific, predetermined brain types offers improved efficiencies.

    The described pathway starts from the engineering of a brand (design, targeted perception) and offers a holistic, multisensory approach. This includes name building, color, perception by touch, selection of logo and slogans and the contributing audio effects for improved brand formation and remembrance, all on the basis of neuroscience-related knowledge and expertise.

    Clients are able to determine clear and powerful communication strategies with sets of goals targeting brand and market dominance. We offer our potential clients sufficient background to rapidly maximize their marketing and market success.

    Conclusions

    The proposed methods do not require electronic means to study brain or other body activities. Means of computer-aided information compression and clustering is time and cost effective.

    Data acquisition delivers a highly complete picture of the information universe and pushes a company into a leading position in a short time.

    The results can easily be adapted by companies internally, PR agencies and related organizations. The fact that brands can be measured, quantified and monitored over time creates important advantages over the competition.

    Final Thoughts

    We believe that the methods, tools and principles described above form a fundamental basis for establishing solid, robust and sustainable business models. This opens further possibilities for creating innovative markets in combination with strong intellectual property portfolios.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)


  • April 03, 2015 11:17 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neuro-Insight Pty Ltd, Australia

    Allen’s is an Australian subsidiary of Nestlé which manufactures confectionery products. Over a number of years it had experienced serious market decline, with loss of market share and a reduction in the number of product categories. The company’s response was to embark on a major communication campaign, aiming to link its jellied lollies range to positive emotions of childhood. Neuro-Insight was commissioned to evaluate an animatic version of the initial television advertisement which featured a giant “marionette” doll, blowing bubbles that turned into lollies when touched by children.

    Nestle’s choice of a neuro-research company to investigate the ad reflected the fact that it was an execution directed at the emotions, rather than rational processes that could be verbalized. The objective was not simply to pass judgment on the ad; rather, Nestlé were looking for recommendations about the ad’s overall structure in order to maximize its effectiveness in building new and positive associations for the brand. Neuro-Insight’s Steady State Topography (SST) methodology was used as it enabled the client to identify not only the emotional response to the ad, but also to measure the themes and images (both rational and emotional) that were strongly encoded into long-term memory. Most importantly, SST only required one viewing of the relevant material thereby making the viewing situation realistic (some methodologies compromise responses by requiring multiple readings of the same advertisement).

    Approach

    Neuro-Insight recruited 50 respondents with at least one child aged between five and twelve years, and who had purchased a relevant confectionery product within the last six months. SST brain activity was recorded from 10 participants at a time while they viewed the advertisement in each of two realistic advertising breaks in a high rating prime time program. With this study design, Neuro-Insight was able to report on the group psychological response to each component of the advertisement on a second-by-second basis. In addition, by comparing responses to first and second viewings of the advertisement, Neuro-Insight was able to advise on the media strategy; specifically whether the advertisement would benefit from two viewings in separate ad breaks in the same program (high frequency). 

    Results

    Time series graphs describing the major psychological measures of relevance, Long-Term Memory encoding, Motivational Valence (approach-withdraw), Emotional Intensity and Engagement were derived. This enabled the client and advertising agency to identify themes and scenes in the advertisement that were strongly encoded in Long-Term Memory and which also elicited high levels of Engagement and approach. This enabled the client to position the brand in such a way as to capitalize on peaks of response without compromising the advertisement’s creative strategy. One scene elicited a strong withdrawal response in association with high Emotional Intensity in both viewings; a pattern associated with fear and anxiety. This anxiety- provoking scene was modified in the final version of the advertisement. 

    The advertising agency modified the advertisement in accordance with Neuro-Insight’s findings and the client also adjusted their media buying strategy in line with Neuro-Insight’s recommendations. The campaign was an outstanding commercial success with the client registering the highest six month revenue in the last three years and exceeding its sales target by 21%. The advertisement went on to be awarded the Gold Effie Award in Australia as the most commercially effective ad in its category for that year.

    Conclusions

    This Nestlé case study is just one example where Neuro-Insight’s findings led to clear understanding of what needed to be changed in a near-finished advertisement to make it more effective. Other published examples include an ad from UK retailer John Lewis, and a case study from Bird’s Eye in Australia which was presented at the Cannes advertising festival. Understandably, other clients are not prepared to release Neuro-Insight research findings concerning their brands, a pity, as these give clear indications of enhanced advertising effectiveness based on before and after changes made in response to the Neuro-Insight findings.

    More generally, this case study should be considered in the context of other Neuro-Insight evidence presented in peer-reviewed publications, illustrating the link between SST measures of brain activity and psychological measures in general; and specifically the link between long-term memory encoding and consumer behavior.

    The ability of scientifically-validated neuroscience services to enhance the real-world effectiveness of commercial communication can be summarized in three questions that need to be answered in the affirmative:
    1. Is the neuroscience methodology telling us something that is not available from established advertising research methodologies? (“is it telling me something I don’t already know?”)
    2. If 1 (above) is true, then do the novel insights make a significant difference to the commercial effectiveness of the communication? (“does it make a difference?”)
    3. If 1 and 2(above) are true, can the neuroscience services be offered on a time scale and cost that is commercially feasible? (”can it deliver?”)

    If neuroscience vendors with scientifically valid methodologies can answer all three questions in the affirmative, then they will do well.


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)


  • March 09, 2015 13:07 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    author: Dept. of Industrial and Commercial Design, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology 

    Retail PET drinks bottles / Packaging design

    Packaging colors on commercial goods capture attention and affect the interest level evoked in customers, and therefore consumers’ buying behavior (Gastón & Rosires, 2010). Lighting in stores and shops also greatly affects the color appearance of products, which is exactly what this research is about - to study such color appearance effects in terms of the attention they capture from customers, and EPR as the measure of attention.

    Previous research has shown that EPR component N100 is related to initial attention and cognition (Hsin-Hui Chiu, 2008), while P300 has been recognized as an reflective component for new objects, innovation and discrimination (Polich, 2007). That explains why customers’ attention to the colors on different drinks packaging can be studied using N100 and P300 responses.

    Approach
    The hypothesis set for this study was “Different color combinations on drinks packaging generate different levels of attention and so different N100 and P300 amplitudes”. The color stimulations used in this experiment were divided into three categories based on the Munsell Color Wheel theory (Mahyar, Cheung, & Westland,2010; Ohta, 2008): complimentary (red/green), contrast (yellow/red) and analogous (yellowish green/green). These colors are the most popular main and supplementary colors of retail PET bottles on the market. All samples (PET bottles with one of the three stimulations) were placed in an environment of 6500K LED color temperature, 2000 Lux illumination and against a white background.

    The subjects of this study were twelve right-handed, healthy students, with an average age of22 from a university in Taiwan. All of them had passed the red-green color vision defects testing prior to the experiment. The subjects’ recruitment and all acts of experimental implementation observed IRB regulations.

    The procedures of the experiment were as follows: each stimulation appeared 30 times randomly on the monitor in the same stimulus (3000ms)-break (6000ms) sequence, making a total of 90 trials of 9000ms each. The brain responses of the subjects were acquired, preprocessed and analyzed by Neuroscan’s Physiological Data Record System and Visual Image Display System. Testing statistics were carried out by MANOVA.

    Results The results of MANOVA and Bonferroni post-hoc test showed a descending N100 (90–150 ms) amplitude for complimentary (red/green), contrast (yellow/red) and analogous (yellowish green/green) colors, and a higher P300 amplitude for complimentary (red/green) than analogous (yellowish green/green) colors. The further the distance is between the two colors on the Munsell Color System (Fig. 1), the higher the attention amplitudes (N100, P300). Therefore, our hypothesis, “Different color combinations on drinks packaging generate different levels of attention and so different N100 and P300 amplitudes” is supported.


    Moreover, the largest (N100, P300) amplitudes were found on the parietal lobe(PZ), among all areas of the brain (Fig. 2).


    On the contrary, the behavioral survey results for the subjects’ desire to buy were quite the reverse to the results of attention amplitudes, with an ascending order of complimentary, contrast and analogous colors (i.e. analogous colors evoked the greatest desire to buy).

    Conclusions
    Complimentary colors (red/green) generate the highest attention EPR amplitude (N100, P300) on the parietal lobe, making these the best for designs that aim to capture the customer’s instant attention. Analogous colors (yellowish green/green), on the other hand, generate a lower attention EPR amplitude (N100, P300) but resulted in the highest desire to buy, implying that desire to buy has no direct correlation to attention.

    Final Thoughts
    Understanding customers’ demand for branding and products is the key to discovering their actual buying behavior. However, it is also important to study the attention-prone ability of the design/product during the early stages. This study suggests that designers or those involved in marketing and design should always seek a balance between these two factors (understanding customers’ demand and the attention-prone ability).

    Contact Information
    Dept. of Industrial and Commercial Design, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech), Taiwan (R.O.C.) 
    www.dt.ntust.edu.tw
    Contact Person: Ying-Chun Chen and Regina W.Y. Wang, d9910202@mail.ntust.edu.tw

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • February 25, 2015 12:01 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Wenda Kielstra

    ISS Integrated Facility Services is a leading, global provider of facility services. In the Netherlands, for example, they provide the catering facilities for Delta Lloyd. In the Delta Lloyd office, ISS has a restaurant and a coffee corner. The coffee corner is situated near the entrance to the office, but has not been given an unique style yet. In the Netherlands, coffee is often provided free to employees. Although ISS offers great products, the revenu of this specific service was too low. By creating a coffee corner with an up-market atmosphere we wanted to investigate in an experiment whether there would be a market for this service. Wouldemployees be willing to pay for good coffee and nice sandwiches if the character of the coffee corner changed? Consumatics focuses on cues that consumers cannot specify, but result in them feeling more comfortable and eventually spending more. Consumatics conducts research and supports the hospitality, retail and airport branches with scientific insight and knowledge of which elements of an outlet influence consumer behavior and create more hospitality. Examples are the use of plants, music, scent, POS material, loyalty cards, menu cards, and outdoor signs.

     

    Approach

    We chose a very practical approach for this experiment. The time frame of the project was three months. We started with semi-structured observations during opening hours. The next step was to give advice based on research about the subconscious behavior of -potential- customers in similar environments. The founder of Consumatics has performed specific scientific research on this subject for the hospitality industry in the past. This approach was also used for ISS. The advice was directly implemented by the team.


    Factors to improve the total ambiance:
    Background music was played (based on North, 1999, 2003; Kielstra, 2012; Areni & Kim, 2003 e.g.), the color of the wall was changed from white to pale pink (based on, for example, Clarke & Costall, 2007), brighter lighting was added to create a more positive store image (Vaccaro, 2008), and an oven was installed creating an appealing, fresh aroma.

    Factors to increase sales:
    More products were placed in and around the counter (closer to the senses), descriptive menu labels with names and prices were added (according to Wansink et al., 2002), and samples were given.

    Factors to create attraction:
    A sign was placed at some distance to prime people and lighting was also added to draw attention to the coffee corner from a distance. The team was trained and a brief report was created. The factors above illustrate that all five senses of the customer were stimulated, from sampling food (taste) to music (sound) and more. We wanted to see the effects of the changes in two ways; financially (revenue and amount of transactions) and personally. The financial factors were measured in revenue and number of transactions. The personal factors were measured by interviewing the team and customers.

    Results

    Financial factors:
    In this specific case it was only possible to attract more customers from people who work in the office and to create customer loyalty, which would result in each customer visiting the coffee corner more frequently. The project finished in February 2013. Until now (December 2013), the revenue has increased each month. In the first months it increased by 25%, and even more in the following months. The number of transactions per day has also increased. This confirms the assumption that office employees do value the service of good quality coffee in their own office.

    Personal factors:
    In addition to the financial factors, the soft factors also improved. Customers appreciate the store more, and another pleasing result is that the team employed at the coffee corner is happier to work there and proud of their store! This demonstrates that ambiance can support other elements. No changes were made to the products; the focus was on the atmosphere. The client was enthusiastic about the project and we evaluated it positively as well. The two photographs show the situation before and after the project.

    Conclusions

    Articles which are published on neuromarketing, mirror neurons, subconscious behavior and influencing behavior come alive in this case. Together with our own research in the area of consumer behavior and our hands-on mentality, we can combine science with

    daily business. Based on past research, we recommend implementing the changes in-store together with the team. Our approach is not to introduce changes because “we think it works” or “we just wanted to change the lights”, but because we base our actions on facts. That makes it easier to get everybody on the same side!

    Final Thoughts

    Your customer has five senses, stimulate these to create the best experience!

     

    Contact Information Consumatics, the Netherlands
    www.consumatics.com
    Contact Person: Wenda Kielstra,
    info@consumatics.nl

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)


  • February 09, 2015 14:48 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Forbes Consulting Group, USA

    Avon was assessing new fragrance concepts through a combination of traditional quantitative measurements focused on rational responses to a concept (Self Reports of Purchase Interest, Overall Appeal, Personal Relevance etc.) and qualitative research which explored emotional reactions to new concepts on an anecdotal basis. Avon management sought to increase the power of the screening protocol by developing a method to quantitatively evaluate both the rational and emotional appeal of new fragrance concepts. This method needed to translate across cultural borders, to include Brazil and Russia as well as North America. Avon also sought to develop statistically robust quantitative norms in both the rational and emotional measurement domains, and to develop a set of performance benchmarks that would allow them to more accurately assess the market potential of new fragrance product concepts developed for these three very disparate markets. Ideally, a means for combining data on rational and emotional concept response was desired, such that a single metric could become the basis of “go/no-go” decision-making. Avon’s interest in an emotional response measurement method that was based upon applied neuroscience arose from the perceived need for a measurement technology that was not subject to the distortion inherent in self report.


    Approach

    Avon’s program of qualitative emotional exploration was replaced by a statistically validated quantitative approach to measuring emotional responses called the MindSight® emotional measurement technology.MindSight® uncovers authentic emotional insight from consumers before the rational mind can edit and distort responses to enhance social desirability. The patented MindSight® protocol was developed based upon applied neuroscience findings concerning the micro genesis of image processing in the brain, which point to a “discovery window” for eliciting emotional responses to an image while a subject’s limbic (emotional) structures are activated, and before the transition to rational processing of the image. MindSight® measurement yields measures of overall strength of emotional appeal in a concept, overall level of emotional resistance, and specific types of emotion driving both concept appeal and resistance. Because MindSight® is a rapid exposure/response protocol, it allowed Avon to measure emotional energies connected to their fragrance concepts in a cost- and time-effective manner. The use of a stimulus library whose emotional evocation value was validated in each of the target markets meant Avon could get emotional concept feedback across its diverse target market cultures. 

    Results 

    The first wave of the Avon fragrance concept test initiative focused on 65 total concepts, across 9,300 men and women who were potential Avon consumers, in three countries. Results successfully separated promising concepts from those with less promise, and provided emotional diagnostics to support concept revision to enhance appeal and/or reduce resistance. Subsequent waves of the Avon fragrance concept test initiatives will result in a statistically validated set of norms for response to fragrance concepts, as well as benchmarks of test performance levels indicative of likely in-market success. As this larger scale normative data set comes online, we expect to integrate the quantification of emotional energies with rational measures to ultimately create a new Concept Test Metric – the MPI (Motivated Purchase Interest).


    Conclusions

    MindSight® Emotional Measurement Technology represents an effective practical application of neuroscience to measurement of emotional response that is cost- effective, time-efficient, and globally scalable. This image-based assessment tool yields statistically valid quantitative profiles of emotional responses that can provide both performance measurement and prescriptive diagnostics for evaluating and optimizing product concepts. The Avon Fragrance Concept Testing Initiative shows how MindSight® was successful in evaluating multiple fragrance concepts, across multiple market cultures, with a metric that integrated rational and emotional measures of concept impact. Final Thoughts MindSight® has been successfully deployed on quantitative initiatives with thousands of globally dispersed respondents. MindSight® delivers results in real time and can be deployed on mobile devices,making it easy for respondents to participate in studies anywhere and anytime. Marketers and market researchers alike recognize the power of emotion in influencing consumers’ decisions and behaviors. The time for evolving the traditional concept test to accommodate valid quantified measures of emotional concept impact is here.

    Contact Information
    Forbes Consulting Group, USA
    www.forbesconsulting.com
    Contact Person: Rebecca Schmidt, RSchmidt@forbesconsulting.com

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • January 28, 2015 14:51 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Diana Lucaci

    The growing global adoption of mobile is becoming undeniable. Despite this, mobile commerce continues to underwhelm. As it becomes more and more second nature to consumers, marketers need more than general demographic information about their target markets in order to create engaging mobile experiences. Mobile now demands that we know what users like to do, where, when and how. 

    Until now, marketers have relied heavily on users’ explicit responses and feedback to mobile applications to determine whether their mobile commerce efforts have hit the mark. However, with so many external variables,
    expectations and preconceived notions weighing on people’s responses, traditional research methods, like surveys and focus groups, can be notoriously unreliable. Neuroscience, or the study of the brain’s response to stimuli, shines a light on the grey area of user response. By determining positive and negative emotions and attentional activation, the study finds new insights into engagement, helping marketers and user experience designers optimize every precious pixel. 

    Approach

    A well-crafted UX is critical to the success of a mobile application. Applying neuroscience to user testing allows us to measure the subtle layer of quality associated with a well designed UX,  something not always distinguishable to the average user. By doing this we can better pinpoint the areas of a successful UX by attributing the user’s emotional response to the design. We outlined a single user journey for three transactional mobile applications to get a better understanding of how users are navigating mobile commerce. Using a portable, wireless EEG neuro-headset and eye-tracking glasses to measure the attentional and emotional activity of the user, we measured what they were looking at first, last, most and least. We measured three m-commerce applications: Pizza Pizza, Best Buy and Hyatt.

     

    Results

    The report showcases the results from the participants’ journey through all three mobile applications. We charted their emotional engagement and levels of attention, throughout the journeys. As well, we looked at participants’ preand post-study survey responses, the time spent and visual areas of focus from the eye- tracking portion of the study. From the findings, we identified seven recommendations for brands when refining their mobile offerings. The study’s findings involve browsing vs. checkout, brand perception before and after using a mobile application, the use of the limited screen real estate on mobile devices, the use of images, and the effect of long load times. Our insights are aimed at taking these areas of a mobile transaction and ensuring that they are completely optimized to increase user experience and, ultimately, widen the revenue stream for mobile commerce transactions.


    Conclusions

    This report, The Science Behind Mobile Design, has unlocked a new way to measure usability and will shape the way we look at the user experience and design of transactional mobile experiences from here on out. Knowing what users are thinking, feeling, and paying attention to about mobile applications, can help brands optimize their purchase paths, enhancing their mobile commerce efforts which could ultimately become a new revenue channel.

    Final Thoughts

    When neuroscience is applied to user experience, it sparks a revitalized way of understanding usability and design preferences. Knowing what users are actually seeing, feeling and paying attention to can help brands and businesses design a stellar mobile user experience. It would be of significant interest for both the neuromarketing and mobile industries to expand on these learnings, and reach beyond mobile commerce into other elements in comprehensive mobile applications including gaming, utilities, and locationbased services. To learn more about the 7 key findings and to download the full report, please visit www.trueimpact.caContact In formation

    True Impact Marketing, Canada
    www.trueimpact.ca
    Contact Person: Diana Lucaci,
    diana.lucaci@trueimpact.ca


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)


  • December 18, 2014 10:27 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale School of Medicine neuroscientists have discovered that mice detect minute differences in the temporal dynamics of the olfactory system, according to research which was published on December 16 in  PLOS Biology.

    The research team made use of light in genetically-engineered mice to precisely control the activity of neurons in the olfactory bulbs in mice performing a discrimination task. This approach to controlling neural activity, called optogenetics, allows for much more precise control over the activity of neurons of the olfactory system than is possible by using chemical odors. The "light-smelling" mice were able to detect differences as small as 13 milliseconds between the dynamics of these "virtual odors."

    Because olfactory bulbs exhibit dynamic neural activations in the range of many tens of milliseconds, the 13 millisecond detection limit suggests that mice should be able to discriminate these dynamics. The researchers tested this hypothesis by recording brief "movies" of the dynamic activity in the olfactory bulbs of one group of mice and projecting them back onto the olfactory bulbs of another group of naïve mice. Resulting in the naïve mice being able to discriminate between the movies, demonstrating that the neural dynamics of the bulb contain fundamental information about odors.

    "This data is very exciting as it shows for the first time that the temporal dynamics of bulbar neural activity are meaningful to the animal," remarked Associate Professor Justus Verhagen, the lead author on the paper. "Before optogenetics arrived as a new tool we had no means to test if this was true, we could read out the dynamic activity but could not impose it back on the brain and ask questions about its role in odor discrimination ."

    The new findings build upon earlier evidence that olfactory processing in mice included temporal information about sniffs. "We knew from prior work by the team of Dr. Dima Rinberg that mice could accurately determine when their olfactory system was stimulated relative to the timing of sniffs. We now know that mice can also obtain this information directly by comparing the timing of activities among neurons. We hence think that the neural population dynamics are important for the sense of smell both independently of and relative to sniffing. Thus, a sniff can be the "start" signal from which the brain begins to analyze the times at which different neurons turn on, but the brain can also do this independently of the sniff by using the earliest neural activations themselves as "start" signals. Combined these mechanisms provide for a very robust means for the brain to use time information. However, we don't yet know how these two forms of temporal information may interact."

    Dr. Verhagen's lab is one of several at Yale and the John B. Pierce Laboratory that are studying the neurobiology of food and flavor perception. The lab is unique in applying the power of optogenetics in mice to study the spatio-temporal capabilities of the olfactory neural circuitry that underlies these vital perceptual functions.

    Source: PLOS


  • November 24, 2014 12:30 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Carl Marci from Innerscope Research

    You have four seconds. At most. About the time it takes to read this paragraph.

    If you didn’t grab your consumer by then, forget it. Because that’s about all the time they’ll spend looking at your product on the shelf.

    This holiday season is likely to hold an exciting gift for consumer brands: the biggest spike in November and December sales since 2011. While this is great news for the economy, will your brand actually benefit undefined flying off the shelves this season – or will it miss the mark?

    You’ll know in four seconds.

    Keep that in mind the next time you design or redesign your packaging. It can’t just be good. It has to stand out. It must be better than everyone else’s.

    With so much riding on that differentiation, why not use all of the data that’s available. What the consumer will tell you is important. But what about what the consumer won’t (or can’t) tell you? In our work looking at hundreds of packaging designs (and the subsequent sales impact), we’ve seen one constant: emotional engagement with packaging directly correlates to better sales.

    With that in mind, we’d found three primary ways that neuroscience measures can help to ensure that you’ve chosen a package design that – above all others – will maximize your sales. 

    • Your equity. Do you know the design elements that are most important to your consumers? The ones they nonconsciously think are important. The ones they associate with you. The ones they associate with your competitors. We can’t tell you how many times a client thought something was really important, only to find out that it made no difference whatsoever – taking up valuable real estate with no impact on sales. In the following image, you can see visual heat maps that helped an iconic brand understand the aspects of its packaging that could be removed and those that were essential. 
    • Your candidates. Too often, viable design options are chosen in the board room, with little, if any, input from consumers. And we’ve seen several cases where eliminated designs would have outperformed final designs. From the early stages, understanding emotional engagement gives you confidence to determine which are the most viable design options to explore. 
    • Your choice. You’ve explored several strong options. But which new design warrants in-market placement? With a comprehensive assessment, including measuring emotional engagement and visual attention, you can take confidence to the shelves. 
    You’ll spend months, if not years, and significant resources exploring product and package designs. Just make sure that the designs you chose don’t require five seconds or more to resonate – or you’ll be left in the dust this holiday season.

  • November 07, 2014 08:29 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Ana Iorga from Buyer Brain

    Although we live almost constantly with the feeling that we are connected to reality, most of the times we are subject to the deceits of our own brain whose biological mechanisms are barely being discovered.


    The human brain is not only programmed to understand things, but also to give meaning and coherence to the input received via the senses, although sometimes it makes up and mixes reality with its own figments to this end. The way in which it uses these figments to browse through the real world is mostly predictable, as neuroscientists start to understand the biological phenomena behind them. Actually, they have been claiming for years now that most of what we perceive from reality is the figment of our imagination. This is possible in that the neurological mechanism responsible for processing the data collected through the senses (eyes, ears etc.) is also responsible to create dreams, imaginative scenarios in idle mode, hallucinations and memory loss.

    The Latin term illudere means “deceit” and it is exactly our brain who deceits us most of the times, not the external world. This does not seem to bother us given that we often believe illusions to be highly interesting and entertaining. From a certain perspective, illusionism is the art of catching, maintaining and shaping the public’s attention, focusing it on certain details and distracting it from others, while the experience itself is carefully directed so as to distort our perception on what occurs right before our eyes. Nonetheless, illusionism shows are very popular and appreciated. In the Internet culture, optical illusions are among the most popular visual memes. Gizmodo created at the beginning of the year a ranking of the best Internet illusions. The design objects that include illusions are also highly appreciated to that “Wow!” factor caused at a first impression.

    Optical Illusions, a Method for Brain Research

    Visual illusions are among the most frequent and explored, because seeing has a fundamental role in representing reality. Neuroscientists, artists and chic women who learned to create the impression of shapes through shadows and graphic details are the most frequent users of the effects that illusions have on the perception of reality. Researchers Peter Thomson and Kyriaki Mikellidou from York University recently dismantled the myth according to which vertical stripes make you look thinner and taller. In reality, horizontal stripes make you look more slender, while vertical stripes make you look plumper. The phenomenon is based on the Helmholz illusion, in which a square drawn with horizontal stripes looks taller than an identical square with vertical stripes.


    Optics, psychology and neuroscience researchers created the most important optical illusions in the attempt to understand how the brain works and that is why most illusions bear the name of famous scientists: the lightness illusion created by Professor Edward H. Adelson from MIT, the famous motion illusion created by the Japanese psychology Professor Akikoshi Kitaoka, used later on in a CISCO Systems campaign under the motto “Chaos organized!” and also in a Duracell ad in order to give the impression of motion; the color illusion created by Professor R. Beau Lotto from the University College London etc. The famous contest “Illusion of the Year”, awarding the most successful optical illusions in the world, has among its sponsors research institutions such as Applied Science Laboratories, Arrington Research or Mind Science Foundation.

    Branding and Marketing 
    Optical illusions are very frequent in brand design, trying to convey messages to the subconscious through ambiguous images, using symbols in the main visual that only reveal themselves at a closer look. An example is the arrow in the FedEx logo that’s always pointed towards the front, creating the perception of dynamism and speed. The logo of Spartans Golf Club shows, depending on how you look at it, a golf player or the head of a Spartan player from the side. 


    Spartan Golf Club Marketing campaigns often include optical illusions exactly because they trigger an almost “magical” experience of the viewer in relation to the brand and allow images to speak for themselves, in a memorable and funny way. In Canada, for example, a couple of years ago, there were images on the streets creating a 3D illusion of huge holes in the concrete so as to determine the drivers to slow down. The stickers were initially part of a campaign deployed in 2007 in India for Pioneer Suspension, a supplier of vehicle suspension systems. Brusspup created an optical illusion in partnership with Ray-Ban to highlight the Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses collection. Shapeless illusions are created through 2D representations of objects from a perspective showing an accurate image from a certain angle, but the illusion disappears along with the image rotation. The video was so popular that Ray-Ban plans to create a series of such advertising videos.



  • November 03, 2014 09:45 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Peter Steidl

    I participated in a discussion thread on mumbrella about the interpretation of research findings. Nothing technical at all. Just a question of cause and effect.

    For example, when a survey finds that heavy users say more often then light users that they love the brand they buy we cannot conclude that loving a brand leads to higher volume purchases. Or when people who buy consistently a particular brand say that they trust that brand we cannot assume that trust was a key factor in the purchase decision. Or when 95% of consumers say they make their final purchase decision in the supermarket, we can’t conclude that most purchase decisions are made at the point of purchase. There is no magic ‘buy button’!

    We store memories of past experiences. When we face a new situation our non-conscious mind reviews these past experiences which then impact on our decisions. We all habitualize routine tasks to free up our conscious mind for more important or enjoyable things. This is why the vast majority of grocery purchases is habitual – no purchase decision involved at all. We share some drivers – in particular dopamine. And we tend to have similar neurotransmitter trends correlated with age: like when men get older dopamine and testosterone decline and cortisol increases. We all share something very important with respect to our brain architecture and the resulting processes: Nobel Prize Laureate Kahnemann called it System 1 and System 2 – being essentially our ‘old’, nonconscious mind and our ‘new’ conscious mind. Marketers are more likely to use terms such as ‘Executive Mind’ and ‘Habitual Mind’ (as suggested by Neale Martin), which does not capture all of Kahnemann’s model, but then he is a scientist and Neale a marketing consultant.

    These are just a few aspects we can take as ‘facts’ – knowing full well that research may at any stage deliver new insights that make these facts obsolete, but at this stage we can say that hundreds of experiments and research studies support the validity of these key factors shaping purchase decision.

    This complexity is what makes marketing so interesting. There is no single factor that drives purchase decisions or determines preferences. The consumer’s mind is complex and there are many, often contradictory, factors that end up determining the purchase decision. We have learned much about how we can shape this decision, but the more we learn the more we understand that there is so much more we still don’t understand.

    While even the most complex computer game is trivial compared to the consumer’s mind, I still feel that there is an analogy here that’s useful:

    There are some basic rules we have learned through solid, scientific research studies. These are the game rules. But beyond that, we need to explore and learn – in an intuitive as much as cognitive way – about the consumer and the context within which purchase decisions are made. Through exploration we finally grasp another ‘rule’ that can explain a bit more of how this ‘game’ works and we can advance to the next level.

    Once there, we realise that the game has now become more complex, with even more aspects to explore and understand. And so we observe, explore, use trial and error to learn and eventually progress to the next level and the next.

    But there is a huge difference between a computer game and the consumer’s mind. With the consumer’s mind there are infinite levels to explore, learn and move on from – nobody ever wins. There is no final level, no final wisdom or skill that allows you to win the game.

    Marketing is all about the journey and if you expect that somebody will one day find some magic buy button, concept or idea that is all powerful you will end up as a cranky old marketer who feels he has been cheated in his professional life. If, on the other hand, you love exploring, learning and testing then marketing is arguable the best career choice you can possibly make: you could have done all that too if you would have become a surgeon, but the good thing is that if you make a mistake you only lose a few market share points…

    Read the original post here»


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