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Consumer studies & neuroscience: using cutting-edge techniques, PART 2

consumer studies neuroscience

What neuroscience techniques can be used to improve the efficiency and reliability of consumer studies? In this article I describe two: the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and predictive validity.

 

 

 

 

In a previous post (see here), I explained how behavioural sciences can improve the efficiency of customer studies. For another one (see here), I introduced the eye-tracking technique and the use of moderating variables as means to reach that aim.

 

 

 

 

Today I introduce two other techniques: Implicit Association Tests and predictive validity

 

 

IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TESTS

 

Implicit Association Tests (or IAT) is a psychological tool that assesses to which extent two concepts are unconsciously related in our brain.

 

 

The basic idea is that consumers’ brains very quickly associate two concepts that are closely related. And less rapidly associate concepts that are not. For instance, words from the concept ‘holidays’ (travel, airport, hotel, beach, restaurant, shopping, hiking) will be more automatically and quickly sorted with words from the concept ‘summer’ (sun, sea, shorts, dress, fruits, light) than from the concept ‘work’.

 

 

Implicit association tests assess the extent to which two concepts are unconsciously related within our brain Click To Tweet

 

 

On the contrary, words from the concept ‘work’ (taxi, meeting, costume, computer, office, colleagues) will be more automatically and quickly sorted with words from the concept ‘autumn’ (orange, pumpkin, chestnut, advent, cold, rain). Of course, some words from the concepts ‘holidays’ or ‘work’ could equally be sorted with the two concepts ‘summer’ and ‘autumn’.

 

 

consumer studies neuroscience

Ultimately, Implicit Association Tests consist of asking people to sort words between combinations of concepts. For instance ‘holidays/summer’ vs ‘work/autumn’, or ‘holidays/autumn’ vs ‘work/summer’. Let us consider that ‘holidays’ and ‘summer’ are more tightly linked in people’s brain than ‘holidays’ and ‘autumn’. We then expect people to sort the aforementioned words (sun, fruit, cold, rain…) more quickly with a combination of concepts (‘holidays/summer’) than with another (‘holidays/autumn’).

 

 

 

Implicit Association Tests are complex, but you can find out more about them on the dedicated Wikipedia page. The most important is to understand that IATs enable to reveal people’s unconscious conceptual associations.

 

 

WHICH APPLICATION FOR CONSUMER STUDIES?

 

consumer studies neuroscience

Implicit Association Tests can be used for customer studies. For instance, imagine that you would like to assess the opportunity to source coffee from a new Asian provider. Are your customers ready to buy coffee grown in Asia? What about Africa or South America like your current products? An Implicit Association Test will assess customers’ unconscious mental association between the concept ‘coffee’ and an Asian origin.

 

 

 

 

 

Two situations can be expected. On one hand, customers show a good association between the concept ‘coffee’ and African and South American origins. But a poor association with Asian origins. It would then be adventurous to try and sell Asian coffee to these customers. On the other hand, unconscious mental associations between the concept ‘coffee’ and African and South American origins are not as high as expected. Then there would exist an opportunity to sell a coffee with an alternative origin, such as Asian.

 

 

 

These results can further be confirmed by testing the predictive validity of alternative packaging.

 

 

CONSUMER STUDIES: PREDICTIVE VALIDITY

 

Neuroscience- and psychology-based consumer studies can assess the predictive validity of packaging’s impact on perceptions. Here we want to understand whether perceptions generated by your packaging can affect people’s intentions and behaviours in real life. That is to say, beyond a simple subjective answer to a survey.

 

 

For instance, our last client wished to emphasize the British origin of its pasta. We tested whether new packets would affect the representation of the pasta as a British product in people’s daily behaviour. To this end we provided a list of 6 meals: 3 British ones and 3 Italian ones. Then we asked people to sort these meals as a function of the likelihood that they would use a given product to cook them.

 

 

If the results indicate that new packaging generates a powerful identification with British origins, we expect people to prefer to cook British over Italian meals with the product. And these are the results we have obtained. Conversely, old packages were preferentially selected to cook Italian meals.

 

 

BACK TO COFFEE

 

consumer studies neuroscience

 

Let us return to our coffee example. We want to determine in which situations (work, restaurant, service area, coffee shop…) customers would like to drink a given type of coffee (Asian, African or South American). Each situation does not lead to the same expectations in terms of service quality or products served. Such a test could assess the relevance of Asian coffee and its appeal to your customers.

 

 

To conclude, neuroscience sets up reliable and powerful customer studies thanks to innovating tools. That way you can access relevant data and insights for your marketing strategy. All of this while avoiding the biases of traditional consumer studies.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr Morgan DAVID   

A former academic and behavioural sciences expert, Dr Morgan David is the founder and director of ANALYTICA, a consultancy agency based in the UK and in France. ANALYTICA uses the way our brain works to design better products and better services in the realm of neuromarketing, webmarketing, customer experience, sales strategy and pricing tactics. ANALYTICA created CogniSales, a neuromarketing sales service, CogniMenu, the first new-generation menu engineering service, Predicta Sports, a science-based talent identification tool for predictive recruitment in sports, and the neuromarketing service applied to packaging CogniPackaging.

 

 

 

études consommateurs neurosciences packaging

Customer studies & neuroscience: using cutting-edge techniques

études consommateurs neurosciences packaging

What neuroscience techniques should be used to improve the efficiency and reliability of customer studies? I describe two of them in this post: eye-tracking and the use of moderating variables.

 

 

 

In a previous post, I explained why behavioural sciences can improve the efficiency of customer studies. Now that you are convinced of it (if not, read this!), I would like to tell you about the techniques and tools that can be used.

 

 

Here I highlight two of them: eye-tracking and moderating variable use.

 

 

CUSTOMER STUDIES & NEUROSCIENCE: EYE-TRACKING

 

Eye-tracking is one of the most famous neuromarketing techniques. Eye-tracking consists of understanding how and where customers pay attention to in a point of sales. This tool helps to determine how the most important information of a communication setup should be displayed.

 

 

customer studies eye-tracking

The use of eye-tracking has numerous applications. Restaurant menus, packaging, webpages, advertisements, supermarket shelves… In all these situations, it is crucial to know what draws customers’ attention. One can also assess how much attention specific brand packaging is going to receive. This is done by measuring the so-called ‘fixation time’. In other words, the amount of time a customer will look at the claim.

 

 

 

Here are some application examples. You observe that consumers mostly look at the bottom of a cereal box. That could be the ideal area where to indicate how much of the recommended daily intake of fibre this product provides. Your customers look more attentively at the bottom left-hand corner of the wine menu? That could be the ideal zone to propose high-margin, by the glass, wines.

 

 

Eye-tracking helps to determine how the most important information of a communication setup should be displayed Click To Tweet

 

 

A QUESTION OF INFORMATION AVAILABILITY

 

customer studies eye-tracking

Eye-tracking is particularly relevant for video advertisement. But also for live consumer studies in dummy supermarket shelves. The reason why is simple. In both situations, product specifications and claims are accessible to customers for only a short period of time and in a limited space.

 

In other words, customers generally do not have enough time to look in detail at all the available information. It is in this context that understanding what draws consumer attention is genuinely relevant.

 

 

To conclude, eye-tracking is a useful tool for customer studies. This is mostly true when customers take a limited time to regard product specifications.

 

 

CUSTOMER STUDIES & NEUROSCIENCE: THE USE OF MODERATING VARIABLES 

 

Another benefit of behavioural sciences-based customer studies is the use of moderating variables. These variables enable us to identify what causes consumers’ perceptions and judgments. For our last client, for instance, we wished to determine whether new packaging specifying that the product was manufactured in the UK would generate positive judgments. We predicted that individual tendency to favour the purchase of British products could affect judgments. For each participant, we thus used a psychometric scale, called ethnocentrism, to assess individual tendencies to favour the purchase of British food.

 

 

This tendency indeed positively affected the new ‘made in the UK’ claim. Unexpectedly, even consumers with a low tendency to favour the purchase of British food rated the new claim positively. Although we did not anticipate this result, it helped our client readjust their marketing strategy.

 

 

Moderating variables help to identify alternative customer profiles and persuade each of them differently Click To Tweet

 

 

Ethnocentrism measurements allowed us to conclude that the positive effect of the new claim was not only generated by those consumers who usually buy British food. The new claim was relevant for our client’s new marketing strategy.

 

 

Moderating variables are a great tool to understand the differences in perception and ratings between people. It is crucial to efficiently identify alternative customer profiles and persuade each of them differently (see the post below).

 

 

 

AN EXAMPLE WITH WINE PACKAGING

 

In the example below, wine bottles displayed in a wooden box with claims and specifications (“explanatory box”) or with a transparent window (“transparent box”) are judged as more attractive by consumers (“product attitude”). Why is this so? To answer this question, scientists have measured peoples’ perceptions of the luxuriousness of packaging (“perceived luxuriousness”). A luxurious aspect indeed generates higher ratings compared to simple boxes (“plain box”). This result can help the brand to optimize future packages more accurately. For instance by playing on customers’ perception of luxuriousness.

 

 

customer studies neuroscience packaging

 

 

Moderating variables are useful to identify what causes consumers’ perceptions and judgments. They allow for a quick assessment of your products and packages’ likely impact. Moderating variables can also be used to segment your target more efficiently. Basically, they help you to make strategic marketing decisions that are more accurate than those based on traditional customer studies.

 

 

In our next post, we will introduce two other neuroscience techniques applied to customer studies: implicit association tests and predictive validity.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr Morgan DAVID   

A former academic and behavioural sciences expert, Dr Morgan David is the founder and director of ANALYTICA, a consultancy agency based in the UK and in France. ANALYTICA uses the way our brain works to design better products and better services in the realm of neuromarketing, webmarketing, customer experience, sales strategy and pricing tactics. ANALYTICA created CogniSales, a neuromarketing sales service, CogniMenu, the first new-generation menu engineering service, Predicta Sports, a science-based talent identification tool for predictive recruitment in sports, and the neuromarketing service applied to packaging CogniPackaging.

 

logo CogniMenu menu engineering

CogniMenu: an innovative service to boost UK restaurants’ sales

Restaurants commonly have two options to increase their benefits: to reduce their costs or to increase the amount of the average order. Building on the latter option, CogniMenu genuinely boosts restaurants’ sales with an innovative, yet simple and efficient solution that uses neuromarketing techniques.

 

 

Proposing good products does not automatically translate into effective sales. This is true in the catering and hospitality sectors as well as in many others. As passionate as the chef can be, and as delighted as clients might feel, managing sales effectively is of utmost importance to a restaurant owner. This requires anticipating and responding appropriately to customers’ expectations and behaviour which is an aspect of the selling process that is all too often missed by restaurant managers. Not much of a surprise, given that restaurant owners cannot simultaneously be chefs, managers, salespeople and marketers…

 

cognimenu

Based on these statements, CogniMenu has been created to help restaurant managers access a hitherto unexplored source of profit: their menu!

 

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

 

From our experience virtually no menus are optimised in a way to make the best of what restaurants offer. Generating benefits through sorting out these lost sales opportunities is what CogniMenu provides.

 

CogniMenu uses the latest techniques from neuromarketing to anticipate customers’ psychology and behaviour, thus improving their experience as well as increasing restaurants’ profits.

 

CogniMenu brochure first pageThe good news is that these techniques are easily applicable and very efficient: we reinvent the structure, organisation and presentation of menus, the labelling of meals, and optimise prices. For example, carefully laying out meals under several sub-categories can improve orders and sales up to 25%. Also, improved meal labelling can increase sales by 27%!

 

 

 

CogniMenu’s process of sales’ improvement goes through the following three steps:

1) We identify priorities, objectives and opportunities to be explored with the restaurant manager

2) We provide a new optimised version of the restaurant’s menu.

3) You enjoy a rise in both your clients’ average order and your average margins.CogniMenu menu engineering

 

In addition, personal support in the application of an individualised and powerful sales marketing strategy can be offered.

 

See how CogniMenu has been efficient with our latest client:

 

Optimising menus to boost sales is easily applicable and a common technique in some countries, like the US. In the UK though, there is not any innovative service like CogniMenu!

 

To find out more about CogniMenu:

Web page: www.cabinet-analytica.fr/en/cognimenu_uk/

Email address: morgan.david@cabinet-analytica.fr

Twitter: @CogniMenu_UK

Phone: +33 651 402 001