Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA)

Articles and Blogposts

  • 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»

  • October 20, 2014 08:45 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Kyle Morich from Sublime Behavior Marketing

    Spraying and scrubbing the shower tile is not a chore I relish, andundefinedoutside the grout changing colorundefinednothing about the process is reinforcing. I don shabby clothes and smother my face with a dust mask to block out the alkaline fumes of the bleach. I repeatedly smack my knuckles into hard corners and I typically need to use the shower as soon as I’m done cleaning it. Nevertheless, I submit myself to this unpleasant exercise every month because I’m a responsible adult who cares about the cleanliness of his homeundefinedalso, because my wife tells me to do it.

    This past weekend, I was about halfway through my duty when I ran out of cleaner. We use bleach to get rid of mildew buildup, and there were no other bleach-based products in the house to substitute. Were this the bachelor version of myself from five years ago, I would have shrugged, doused the rest of the shower with hot water, and called it a day. But I suppressed my slacker instincts and committed myself to finishing the job. I threw out the bottle, put on respectable clothing, wrote “bleach spray” on our grocery list, and headed out to do the week’s shopping.

    >As I arrived at the cleaning products aisle in the store, I had the sudden realization that I couldn’t remember which brand of cleaner I was supposed to buy. My mind was briefly awash in the panic that only grocery store shelves can invoke: dozens of products, dozens of price points, dozens of features, all competing to induce me to purchase. I had a vague recollection of the color green being involved on the bottle, so I grabbed a bottle of Lysol “All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach,” thinking that was my brand of choice. Turns out, I was wrong. We actually use Clorox “Cleaner with Bleach,” a product that also has green on the bottle, with some lovely yellow accents. Just like that, I had become the very thing that my marketing brethren fear and detest… a disloyal customer.  I’ve stated many times in this space that the goal of marketing should be customer habituation. Getting your customers to buy and use your product on autopilot is the key to long-term growth and profitability, and protects your brand from competitive incursions and other market disruptions. But there are two behaviors of interestundefinedpurchase and usage. Customer decision-making is receiving significant attention, but this is almost exclusively in the area of purchase. To create habitual behavior, marketing efforts must focus on building habits for both actions simultaneously.

    Two years into owning a home, cleaning the shower each month has become a habit. I give the bottle of cleaner no conscious consideration; I just use it consistently and repeatedly every month. But purchasing the shower cleanser is not a habit; my trip down the cleaning products aisle was an entirely conscious experience, and you saw how well my conscious mind performed when I was trying to purchase the same brand I bought last timeundefinedI  inadvertently purchased a competing brand. There exists a habit imbalance in my relationship with this cleanser, and the gap between my usage habit and my purchase habit led to my “erroneous” shopping choice.The usage gap in shopping behaviorThe science behind this imbalance is clear, and there are two main factors at play. The first iscontext. All habits become associated with a context. The context, comprised of time of day, location, goals, and other situational factors, defines what options are available to you and which behavioral triggers will control your behavior. In my context of “home cleaning,” I have established a consistent routine: open the cabinet door, find the green bottle of cleaner (instead of the yellow or blue ones), and go about cleaning the shower. The color green is the only relevant information my brain needs in that context, and the logo or brand name never enter into the equation. In my context for “grocery shopping,” however, I do not have a consistent routine for buying cleaner, and so my conscious mind tried to apply whatever information was available. In this case, I could recall the green bottle from my usage context, but not enough to translate that to the purchase context.

    The second factor, and primary culprit in our story, is repetition. Habits form through repetition. While the number of repetitions necessary to form a habit is dependent on many factors, each repetition etches the implicit memory deeper into the limbic region of the brain. In the two years of using Clorox “Cleaner with Bleach” to clean my shower, I had approximately 24 repetitions of use, but the trip to the store was only my first repetition of the purchase behavior since we moved in to our house. The repetitions necessary to form purchase cues and develop automatic repurchase behavior had not occurred.24 repetitions of use vs. 2 repetitions of purchaseHabit imbalances exist for any consumer product where the use of the product occurs far more frequently than the purchase or when purchase and usage are separated in time. Non-perishable goods, hygiene products, diapers, electronics, shoes, and clothing are just a few categories that face this issue. In path-to-purchase models, the “usage” step is just another box on the consumption loop. But the actual time and behavior occurring during the usage step could cover weeks, months, or even years (as with cars and major appliances). The challenge for marketers is to fill this usage gap.

    The gap between usage and purchase repetitions is not a failing, but marketers must understand its existence if they are to bridge the two behaviors. Great advertising and branding can build awareness and induce a consumer to try a product. Great design and development ensures that product delivers a satisfactory experience and allows for habit formation in the context of use. But marketing often focuses on the first purchase and neglect to build a path to habitual repurchase.

    Find the original post here

  • October 13, 2014 10:31 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Judgment and Decision-Making: Influencing Future Decisions?

    You might have heard about love at first sight and you might have dismissed it off-hand as something that does not really happen. However, the University of Melbourne researchers have found that most people make snap decisions at an unconscious level. First impressions are important and the brain does make spot decisions based on several critical factors. According to researchers, almost 90% of people make immediate decisions about images, objects, and people based on this unconscious feature. This happens even before the brain has had time to consciously process information about images, objects or people.

    Published in the PLOS ONE, the study was carried out by researchers by exposing a set group of people to images while they were being tracked by an EEG. The researchers studied brain images as they reacted to set stimuli before they could consciously judge or feel what they were looking at. The study was designed to flash objects in a box at an extremely rapid rate so that study participants did not have time to gather their thoughts. The EEG monitored brain waves and tracked just how much it was possible to make a person think of the future or the past by viewing the randomly presented images. The study results were quite surprising.

    According to researchers, the brain was able to process images and encode judgments in a viable time frame before the person was even aware of what they were looking at. The brain worked even before the person recognized the image and created tangible thought. For example, a recovering gambler could be watching TV and come across a gambling advertisement. The conscious mind could click away from the ad rapidly, but the brain would have already processed the ad and this would increase the chances of the person relapsing into his gambling addiction. This study also showed that customers make complex decisions regarding car purchases by this same predictive awareness. In fact, researchers were able to show that these complex decisions could also be predicted due to the unconscious evaluation process of the brain (located in the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula).

    For scientists, this is an exciting discovery. With this unconscious processing feature, it might be possible for researchers to tailor-make long term behavioral therapies. It may also be possible to reduce impulsive behavior and encourage healthy long-term decisions.  For example, hearing dice rolling or cards shuffling could push recovering gamblers into their addiction. However, by understanding just how the brain reacts to these prompts, it makes it possible to change these behaviors as well. EEG images could provide an accurate location in the brain that prompts these impulses. By tracking this area, scientists would also be able to stop these impulses before they turned into tangible thoughts.

    Source: Stefan Bode, Jutta Stahl, Daniel Bennett, Carsten Murawski. Distributed Patterns of Event-Related Potentials Predict Subsequent Ratings of Abstract Stimulus Attributes. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (10): e109070 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0109070

  • October 13, 2014 10:07 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Learning about Smart Marketing the Smart Way

    Have you ever wondered what makes Coke so much more popular than any other cola-based soft drink in the market? Most of this popularity and emotional attachment can be contributed to targeted advertising. Marketing companies combined advertising with smart marketing campaigns to create a ‘down-home American’ brand image for Coke which has managed to stay popular over the ages. Every year, companies release thousands of products into the consumer market but not many of them manage to reach the iconic status of Coke even with advertising and marketing campaigns.  

    Why? Is this Because of Behavioral Science?

    Yes, behavioral science is based on a combination of psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Simply saying, the science attempts to understand human behavior and predict it based on real science methodologies and practices. By applying these principles to marketing, you can understand what drives a consumer when he or she goes shopping, why consumers act the way they do, and how you can make a brand much more popular among a particular consumer group. This may seem difficult but it is quite straightforward and simple.

    For example, social scientists have noted that people naturally gravitate towards the middle. That means more people walk into the center stall of a store and almost 90% of people prefer to buy mid-priced bottles of wine, mid-priced clothes and even mid-priced service plans. Yes, consumers may justify this as saving money but this behavior is actually based on human nature. We don’t like to be far ahead or too far behind. The center is just perfect as figuratively saying, it’s not too hot or too cold but it’s just right. It comes down to the simple fact that as marketers, you have to use what science has proved to be right about human behavior.

    Behavioral science can be used to create a critical difference to a product’s sale and it may help in creating a distinct identity and brand in the eyes of the consumer. In fact, even the Obama administration has understood the impact of behavioral science on consumers. The administration now uses Cass R. Sunstein, co-author of Nudge, to make their tax policies much more acceptable to taxpayers.

    Learning about Behavioral Science

    As a marketer or a company owner, it does seem apparent that you should know how behavioral science can help your company or your brand link up with consumers. Attending an event like the SMART MARKETING EVENT to be held in London on December. Attending the conference will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the promising new field and help you get a valuable edge over your competitors through targeted marketing campaigns. er 2 and 3, 2014 is the simplest way to get a head start. Industry professionals like Steve Genco, author for Neuromarketing for Dummies; Phil Barden, Author of Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy; Nick Southgate, Behavioral Economics Consultant at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising; Thom Noble, Neurostrata; and many more will be sharing their expertise on smart marketing at the conference.

    As a marketer or a company owner, it does seem apparent that you should know how behavioral science can help your company or your brand link up with consumers. Attending an event like the SMART MARKETING EVENT to be held in London on December 2 and 3, 2014 is the simplest way to get a head start. Industry professionals like Steve Genco, author for Neuromarketing for Dummies; Phil Barden, Author of Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy; Nick Southgate, Behavioral Economics Consultant at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising; Thom Noble, Neurostrata; and many more will be sharing their expertise on smart marketing at the conference. 

  • September 12, 2014 16:14 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Katharina Kuehn - Director RDG Insights

    Do you sometimes find yourself heading to the shops for one item and leaving with a boot full of shopping bags?
    Do you spot a store and get somehow magically drawn in and end up buying 10 things you never thought you would need?

    Or, the other way round, do you set out for some serious retail therapy but get turned away, because it just doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel inspiring, doesn’t feel motivating?

    A recent shopping trip with a friend reminded me of the underlying subconscious mechanisms that determine whether and why we engage in a certain retail experience – or why not.  As she went on a proper spending spree in a well known Australian fashion store, my brain (and credit card!) went on a short holiday. While my friend was clearly excited by the whole experience of this retailer, I simply wasn’t engaged.

    What really determines shoppers’ expectations?
    Human and therefore consumer decision making takes place largely below the radar of the conscious mind. Every stimuli (advertisement, promotion, retail experience, product, brand) gets evaluated subconsciously and filtered through the emotional operating system in the consumer’s brain. Then we determine what is noise and what is relevant, what we perceive at all, what we recall and what motivates a certain action. This emotional operating system consists of three major forces, in neuro sciences these are known as ‘The Big 3. They are:

    • The Balance system (goal and purpose: security, avoidance of risk, stability)
    • The Dominance system (goal and purpose: self-assertion, displacement of the competition, autonomy)
    • The Stimulance system (goal and purpose: discovery of new things, learning new skills)

    Recognising the wishes of the 3 emotion systems of Balance, Dominance and Stimulance is crucial. Why? Because these 3 systems cause completely different shopper expectations in terms of store experience, visual merchandise and even pricing strategies. These systems form the foundation of the Limbic personality types (as shown in the image below) which I will discuss further in future blogs and I welcome you to contact me to understand more about these types.

    Lets explore four types of shopping experiences that can be clearly aligned with ‘The Big Three,’ easy, experiential, efficient and exclusive shopping.

    Easy Shopping
    Let’s start with the Balance system and its needs and wishes when shopping. Safety, no stress, order, easiness and convenience. Simply put, the Balance system seeks a shopping experience which is as easy and comforting as possible. Visual merchandising and store layouts that are functional and straightforward with easy navigation and quick orientation are preferred. Products should be simple, reliable quality at a predictable, constantly low price point (every day low price strategy as opposed to aggressive, temporary discounting). Too many options have an unsettling effect on the Balance system – it wants limited choice.

    A well executed example is provided by Aldi. The very narrow product range within each category, functional store design and visual merchandise, strictly controlled and absolutely constant product quality, everyday low prices. Aldi’s core market? Customers with an emphasis on the Balance system in their brains. 

    Experiential Shopping
    Exactly the opposite are the expectations of shoppers who are predominantly driven by the Stimulance system. The Stimulance system is attracted to indulgence and experience oriented visual merchandise, such as tasting stations and distinct zones, they seek “experiential shopping”. Choice and variety can’t be big enough and whilst the Balance system is satisfied with home brands, the Stimulance system prefers manufacturer brands with a strong emphasis on lifestyle, pleasure and experience.

    Efficient Shopping  
    For shoppers who seek efficient shopping, the Dominance system is the driving force, demanding highly efficient and hassle free shopping, without waiting times; particularly when it comes to everyday goods. Self-service is preferred because it serves the means of autonomy in the process and reduces dependency on service staff. Aggressive pricing and discounts appeal to the Dominance system. 

    Exclusive Shopping 
    Exclusive shopping, again, originates in the Dominance system. Particularly when it comes to products that have a high socially distinctive function – like fashion, cars or living & furniture – the Dominance system seeks status and exclusivity. This is then exactly how products need to be displayed in retail: exclusive ambience, ranges of the highest quality product, and very importantly, personalised service.

    Hugo Boss provides an excellent example of executing this proposition right down to the smallest, even subconscious, details. When we look at the flagship store in meatpacking district of New York, we find scarce product, tall racking (subconsciously triggering the emotion of having to climb up to reach the product), exclusive materials, subdued lighting, club appeal.    

    All of the above are quite contrary emotional worlds in shoppers minds. So, how can retail respond to this? The answer lies is relating these emotional worlds at the point of sale to the target markets that correspond, and then executing to these propositions. This achieves a relevant retail offer that will draw the right customers into stores, resonate with them and create profitable and loyal relationships. 

  • September 05, 2014 16:24 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Duncan Smith - The Mindlab

    If you want to truly understand consumer behaviour, you need to not only look at people’s explicit responses (what they saythey like), but to also take subconscious emotions and judgements into account. But why is it the case that subconscious processes influence our decisions? Surely we should make better judgements if we consciously thought about our decisions more and not let our gut feelings take over. In this blog post, I will look into how we use subconscious ‘thinking’ to make decisions and why this is actually a good strategy.

    Coke cans and cars

    It is often thought that we base our decisions primarily on conscious thinking when there is a lot at stake, for example when we buy expensive goods, choose a place to live or buy a car. In contrast, when shopping for cheaper or less important products, subconscious thought is often the main driver of our decisions (we will usually pick an item within seconds out of a range of competitors, without consciously weighing up all of their pros and cons, but rather trusting our intuition). This theory certainly makes sense when you think about subconscious thinking as fast and relatively easy, and conscious thought as a slow, more effortful process that can be used to override the subconscious and evaluate different aspects more carefully. But is there more to subconscious decision-making than is immediately obvious? If you are making an important decision (e.g. buying a house), your friends and family will encourage you to spend a good amount of time considering different options, sleep on the decision, write down advantages and disadvantages and discuss them with others. But research has shown that only trusting your conscious thoughts might not always be the best approach.

    Spontaneity and happiness

    We think that thinking hard and justifying decisions will lead to better outcomes, but this is not always the case. An experiment was conducted to test whether people would be happier with spontaneous decisions or ones they justified (Wilson et al., 1990). For this, participants were given the choice between several posters which they were allowed to keep after the experiment. Half of the participants had to just pick a poster and take it home, while the other half were asked to write down reasons for why they picked the poster. Both were told that the experimenter would not know which poster they picked, so that they would not feel judged for their decisions. Not only did the spontaneous group pick different posters than the deliberation group (posters that were ‘just pretty’ instead of ones with motivating slogans, etc.), when asked a few months later about their decisions, they were also much happier with the choice they made. But one might argue that picking a poster is not a particularly important decision, and that of course we can trust our subconscious to make this choice. However, the following example will show that we should use our gut feelings when making more important decisions as well.

    Is our subconscious better at making important decisions?

    In order to test whether we make better judgements using conscious or sub-conscious decision-making processes, a series of studies was carried out at the University of Amsterdam, looking at choosing apartments or potential roommates (Dijksterhuis, 2004). For this, participants were shown 12 pieces of information about each possible apartment (e.g. size, location) or roommate (e.g. tidy, fun). The way the information was presented ensured that there was always a hypothetical ‘best choice’ (one apartment was better than the others). After showing participants the information, they were either asked to pick their favourite straight away (control condition), were given 3 minutes to think about their decision and then choose (conscious thought) or were distracted with a difficult task for 3 minutes and then asked to decide (this discouraged conscious thought and was therefore seen as the subconscious decision). When looking at the choices they made, it turned out that the subconscious group made the best decisions (subjectively, as well as when individual importance of factors was taken into account – e.g. when someone said that location was more important than size, etc.).

    How is this possible?

    When thinking of conscious and subconscious thought as simply slow vs. fast or effortful vs. effortless, we miss one important aspect of these different ways of ‘thinking’: The amount of information that can be processed. Consciousness can only process a relatively small amount of information at once, while the processing capacity of the subconscious is much larger. Therefore, when we have to make a judgement and only take a few facts into account, conscious thought may lead to better results than the subconscious, while the subconscious appears to better at forming overall impressions. When there are lots of factors to consider, conscious deliberation runs the risk of taking not all of the information into account, but basing the decision on just a few of the facts. Therefore, even when making complex, important decisions, it can often be better to listen to your gut feelings. And one of the pieces of advice your friends and family gave you earlier is actually based on this idea: Sleep on your decision. Often, being distracted for a while can help coming to a conclusion, and artists, authors and anyone else having to use their creativity will know that incubation (stepping away from a problem) can help tremendously in coming up with good solutions.

    Overall, it can be said that not only simple, unimportant decisions are best made using the subconscious, but that even difficult and important decisions such as choosing a house are influenced greatly by our subconscious, because it provides a more global impression. This is why testing subconscious, implicit and automatic impressions is not only important when trying to predict the success of inexpensive items such as fast-moving consumer goods, but will also give a great deal of insight for more expensive goods (and related brands, advertising strategies and design).

  • February 11, 2014 10:24 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    New Barkley Study Reveals How This Generation’s Behavior and Buying Habits Change After Kids

    prbizAmerica’s often-watched millennial generation, traditionally viewed as young and unattached, has grown old enough to have children. Among the older half of millennials, those between ages 25-34, there are now 10.8 million households with children. Further, with millennials accounting for 80% of the 4 million annual U.S. births, the number of new millennial parents stands to grow exponentially over the next decade. A new study of 25-34 year-old parents reveals how starting a family has changedundefinedor not changedundefinedthis generation’s behavior, values, media consumption and buying habits.

    The two-part Millennials as New Parents study first analyzed exclusive research records of 10,800,000 millennials with children. The second phase included a one-to-one survey of 1,000 American adults aged 25 to 34 who have children living with them.

    “Millennials are often inaccurately portrayed through the prism of youth and all the character traits that go along with itundefinednarcissism, rebellion and entitlement to name a few,” said Jeff Fromm, EVP at Barkley and co-author of the just released book Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever, in a news release. “A large portion of millennials have grown up. By overlooking the fact that many millennials are now parents, brands could miss changes in behavior and consumption that directly impact their bottom line.”

    What one retailer would millennial parents shop at for the rest of their lives?

    When given the choice to shop at one store for the rest of their life, millennial parents gave a surprising answer. Between Amazon, Walmart and Target, millennial parents chose Walmart. Even as the world’s most tech-savvy generation, millennials who have kids opted for the brick-and-mortar locations of Walmart and Target over online darling Amazon.

    When broken down by income level, the answer shifts slightly. High-income millennial parents chose Target, while middle and low income brackets chose Walmart.

    Overall, those millennial parents who chose to shop at only Amazon for the rest of their life tend to be the most conservative politically. They still supported Barack Obama in the last election, but by a much smaller margin than those who prefer Walmart or Target. Plus, they are less likely to say they have become more politically liberal since they had kids than the other groups.

    How do millennial parents shop?

    Before they become parents, millennials rank their favorite brands in order of descending importance as Nike, Sony and Gap, with 10% naming Nike as their top choice. After they become parents, millennials continue to name Nike as their top affinity brand, but at a much lower margin. Only 6% put Nike at the topundefinedfollowed by Target and Apple at 3% each.

    Millennial parents are pragmaticundefinedwhen compared to before they had children, they buy significantly more based on price than they do on quality. Before they were parents, their buying decisions were 57% on quality. After parenthood, they buy just over 50% on quality.

    In some categoriesundefineddining and entertainment, apparel, and digital productsundefinedthe change is more dramatic, with the shift away from quality and toward price dropping as much as 20%.

    How do millennials parent?

    Fifty percent of millennial parents agree with the statement, “I am raising my kids the way I was raised,” while 28% disagree and 22% are neutral. So where do the differences and similarities lie?

    Millennial parents’ top concerns are environmental issues and what their kids eat, with 52% saying they closely monitor their children’s diet and 64% saying the environment has become a top concern now that they are parents.

    Boomers, which are often cited as the inventors of the “helicopter parent” phenomenon, may have provoked something of a backlash, now that their millennial children are parents. For example, 61% of these young parents agree, “kids need more unstructured playtime.” Only 21% think their own kids are overscheduled.

    Today’s millennial parents show a traditional streak: 48% say, “children do best if a stay-at-home mom raises them.”

    What do millennial parents value?

    When shopping for products, 50% of millennial parents say they try to buy products that support causes or charities.

    “Millennials are often cited as one of the most socially compassionate generations ever,” said Fromm. “The brands that win with millennial parents often help them feel better about themselves through purchases and brand engagement.”

    In fact, of the brands that millennial parents favor mostundefinedNike, Target and Appleundefinedevery single one has a cause platform. Nike, through its Nike Better World initiative, addresses social issues including health and wellness, Native American culture and sustainability. Target is deeply embedded in the cause arena, with its giving programs covering issues including education, hunger, health and the environment. Apple is an active member of Product (RED) and focuses a large part of its cause effort on sustainability.

    When answering the question, “I want my kid(s) to_______”, millennial parents offered insight into what they value most. Ranked in order of importance, 82% want their child to know that they don’t need possessions to make them happy, 77% want their child to graduate college and 56% want their child to excel at sports.

    Millennial parents are politically very similar to millennials in general. They voted 58% for Barack Obamaundefinedvery close to most of the exit polls for millennials in general.

    Now that they're parents, millennials have become more interested in politicsundefined43% are more interested compared to 36% who are not. However, only 30% say they've become more politically liberal than before they were parents.

    How do millennial views on privacy change after they are parents?

    Millennials, the most transparent generation ever, continue to remain heavily connected online even after they become parents. Over 35% of millennial parents claim to have posted on Facebook in the last day.

    Millennials as a whole regularly trade private information for perks from brands they favor. However, that willingness falters a bit when millennials become parents, with 48% claiming they are less likely to give up private information about themselves in exchange for promotional perks.

    How do millennial men and women parent differently?

    When it comes to millennial parents, there are some distinct differences between men and women. Men are much more likely to say that since becoming a parent, they are the same person as before they had childrenundefined45% of men agree with that statement, but only 30% of women.

    With the growing number of two working-parent households, its not surprising that work-life balance is a key issue for both male and female millennial parents. Here there is strong agreement between the sexesundefinedwith 76% of men and 74% of women saying that work-life balance issues have become more important.

    “Millennials as New Parents” by the numbers:

    Number of US households with adults 25-34 who have children: 10.8 million
    Portion of parents married: 63%
    Median income: $50,000
    Total labor force participation rate: 76%
    Labor force participationundefinedwomen: 61%
    Living in urban area: 28%
    Living in suburban area: 51%
    Living in rural area: 20%
    Hispanic population: 16%
    African American population: 12%
    Caucasian population: 61%
    Other minority population: 11%

    From June 14th to June 20th, an online survey was fielded by Vision Critical and conducted and analyzed by Barkley among 1,001 randomly selected American adults age 25 to 34 that have children living with them, and who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of errorundefinedwhich measures sampling variabilityundefinedis +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current age, gender, region, income, and ethnicity Census data to ensure a representative sample. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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