Cracking the consumer brain code

Experts on how ‘consumer neuroscience’ can help understand consumers' conscious and non-conscious engagements and enable brands to create impactful campaigns

by Noel Dsouza
Published - Jul 25, 2019 8:20 AM Updated: Jul 25, 2019 8:20 AM
Consumer Neuroscience

A Nielson case study shared insights on how ‘consumer neuroscience’ captures the conscious and non-conscious aspects of a consumer. This technology can be leveraged by brands and agencies to garner better impact and deliver more meaningful advertising with a higher ROI. 

exchange4media spoke to ad agency heads on how ‘consumer neuroscience’ will help garner powerful insights and create impactful ad campaigns. 

According to Agnello Dias, Creative Chairman, Dentsu Aegis Network India, consumer neuroscience is interesting though he doesn't think it can become 'the' methodology for advertising. “There will always be a part of the human mind that is fuzzy and reacts to a given stimulus at that given time. It does take out the subjectivity of human interpretation in the room, but it cannot be the last word”, Dias says. 

Gulshan Singh, National Planning Director, FCB Interface, believes that consumer neuroscience can be used to make small tweaks to creative and make it more effective. “Unless they find a way to really scale it up, set benchmarks, and customize it for different categories, target audiences, geographies, etc., I don’t see it doing much more,” he says.

Raghu Bhat, Founder & Copywriter, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, adds that his agency’s ads have been subjected to neuroscience research.  “The output is a graph that plots emotional engagement for each moment the ad is playing. The fundamental problems with this are that clients wanted high emotional engagement scores for every moment,” Bhat says. “But storytelling itself is a graph. When there is a creative twist at the end of the ad, it can lead to high memorability, but the graph will show a spike only at the end. Second, it reduces not just story-telling but also shot composition into a 'set of rules'. These rules hamper creativity. Third, neuroscience can't measure persuasion or impact on future behaviour.”

Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder, Content Chief, The Glitch, says advertisers always look at smaller data whether that is in terms of colours or even sound. “With this technology, we need to be more careful that in no point are we crossing that line of getting intrusive. We need to be more responsible in terms of using the data especially for campaigns that are let's say wider in range and mass campaigns. We need to slowly build on it and maybe raise the focus in terms of stuff like e-commerce, where it will help us understand consumer behaviour more than seeing how someone reacts”, he says. 

Piyush Sharma, General Manager (Strategy), Mediacom, believes that this approach is based on the idea that everyone shares a number of basic emotions that are conveyed through the same facial expression. “This academic work is now utilized by companies that help brands and agencies test marketing communications, and hi-definition cameras built into almost all modern laptops, desktops and smartphones provide an easy way to accurately capture a user’s emotional reactions in real-time,” Sharma says. 

Shekhar Mhaskar, Chief Growth Officer, Isobar, says that advertisers and marketers subconsciously try to use consumer neuroscience, as is evident from the various discussions. “But, it is all not based on qualitative and quantitative research methodology. A formalised way of doing it will certainly give a boost to the adaptation of the methodology,” Mhaskar feels. 

Isobar has an indigenous tool Isosights that maps brain waves and records human emotions. Mhaskar adds, “We use it in our research to test audience reactions to versions of films; tweak the content and release the most effective one. Not only that, but also run activations that review audience reactions to inanimate objects like cars, furniture, etc. to improve the respective products. We have done this for Maruti cars, and Godrej Script, a furniture brand. Globally we have also used this methodology to create custom Uniqlo Tshirt designs based on buyer emotions.”

Anjali Malthankar, National Strategy Director, Tonic Worldwide, shares that they have used neuroscience innovation for various clients, including a gaming activation for an entertainment client.  

“Apart from neuroscience, as for the insights, our life-logging app Gipsi was in fact, born out of the need to bridge the gap between what the consumers say in FGDs and what they really mean,” she says. “Our Gipsi app logs both behaviours: conscious and non-conscious. For example, an individual may consciously answer food preference as healthy because that's what he likes to believe, but the non-conscious log tells us he ordered a pizza for dinner. We feel a holistic perspective about the consumer's choices can be decoded with multiple data points.”

Sameer Makani, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Makani Creatives, states that 'consumer neuroscience' focuses more on the behaviour of the brain and provides brands insights into the way a consumer’s brain responds to certain stimuli.

"It enables a ‘neuro-marketing’ practice which helps brands in adapting their communication and creatives strategies to influence potential customers at a psychological level. Advertisers often struggle to get consumers' attention but with neuro-marketing practice, the advertiser gets access to consumers' mind which helps in making eye-catching content and creating a recall value in their mind. This approach creates a stronger connection with potential consumer's and sustains the brand's image in the mind of the consumer," he adds.

Vijay Shenoy, SVP, Strategy & Business Development, Langoor, concludes that consumer neuroscience and neuro-marketing are an emerging field. “Gaining insight into the subconscious mind of consumers can help advertisers and brands design communication that could have a greater influence on their purchase decisions,” he says.

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