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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.

 

tests consommateurs neurosciences

How to improve customer studies with behavioural sciences?

customer studies packaging neurosciences

Customer studies… Let’s face it: customers do not say what they do, and do not do what they say. So how can we really understand how customers perceive and evaluate your products and their packaging?

 

 

 

 

In his recent book Experimentation works, Stefan Thomke, a professor at Harvard Business School, quotes a manager from Booking (booking.com) speaking about customers’ behaviour:customer studies packaging neurosciences

 

“We see evidence every day that people are terrible at guessing. Our predictions of how customers behave are wrong nine out of ten times.”

 

 

TRADITIONAL VS NEUROSCIENCE-BASED CUSTOMER STUDIES

 

Traditional customer studies are beneficial to understand people’s preferences and habits. They are a strategic phase of the development of products and packaging. Once strategic decisions have been made, how can we be sure that creations and messages are perceived as expected by customers?

 

 

customer studies packaging neurosciences

Are the colours and texture of a new mobile phone congruent with the claim that it is the lightest phone on the market? Is a Union Jack sufficient for a product to be perceived as made in the UK? Does the font type reflect a product of quality and authenticity? Should the teaspoon on the cereal packet be placed on the bowl’s left or right? Shall the advertisement’s background be the same colour as the displayed product? Should the triangular shape of the pasta packet’s transparent window be pointing downwards or upwards?

 

 

 

Customer studies based on psychology enable us to objectively assess people's perceptions and judgments Click To Tweet

 

 

Such questions about the impact and efficacy of products and packaging can hardly be answered with traditional customer studies. Conversely, all of them have been answered thanks to behavioural science. Customer studies based on psychology enable us to objectively assess people’s perceptions and judgments. They are also useful to understand your clients’ unconscious judgments; the very judgments that they cannot express because customers’ answers are usually biased and influenced by many factors! Eventually, you will obtain accurate information about the psychological impact of your product and its packaging on consumers (e.g. font, colours, claims, weight, size, texture, etc.).

 

 

customer studies packaging neurosciences

 

 

EXAMPLES OF CUSTOMER STUDIES

 

For these products, the darker version was judged by consumers as heavier and more durable than the lighter version, but also less user-friendly.

 

 

customer studies packaging neurosciences

 

 

In this example, biscuit and fruit juice manufacturers wondered whether person-like drawings could improve purchase intentions. Customer studies have shown that the impact of person-like drawings depends on the type of product sold. It improves purchase intentions for “hedonic” and calorific products (biscuits = vice product). However, it decreases purchase intentions for healthy products (fruit juice = virtue product).

 

 

customer studies packaging neurosciences

“Vice product” corresponds to biscuits, and “Virtue product” corresponds to fruit juice

 

 

See these packaging infographics about Campbell’s soup. Each improvement has been tested and validated through studies about customers’ perceptions and judgments. Traditional customer studies could not have found that the logo placed on top attracted too much attention. Or that the spoon triggered a minimal emotional reaction.

 

 

customer studies packaging neurosciences

 

 

The benefit of using neurosciences and psychology for customer studies is thus manifold:

 

 

AVOID INFLUENCING CUSTOMERS’ ANSWERS

 

It is easy to influence people’s answers to a survey. One just has to ask questions in a way that encourages a particular answer.

 

 

Often, the survey designer is not aware of that influence. As a consequence, collected data turn out to be useless and of poor quality. But these data will still be used to make strategic decisions. For instance, Steve Jobs, the iconic but this time misled Apple CEO, said in 2003:

Steve Jobs

 

“People have told us over and over and over again, they don’t want to rent their music… they don’t want subscriptions.”

 

 

Conversely, customer studies based on social psychology principles enable us to assess people’s perceptions and judgments objectively, including unconscious representations and judgments that customers do not verbally express.

 

 

DETERMINING CUSTOMERS’ PERCEPTIONS & JUDGMENTS BEYOND VERBAL STATEMENTS

 

If you think that customer studies are only about assessing your target’s preference for a given product or packaging, then neurosciences won’t help you. Ordinary surveys are sufficient to understand such preferences. Conversely, behavioural sciences allow for more innovative customer studies to be conducted. Collected data about the impact of a product or a packaging are virtually limitless!

 

 

Every detail of a product or its packaging can have a tremendous impact on consumer perception Click To Tweet

 

 

Customer studies based on neuroscience help to confirm whether new products and packaging trigger the expected perception. They enable us to understand customers’ unconscious judgments. Genuine judgments that your customers cannot properly express. Every detail of a product or its packaging can have a tremendous impact on consumer perception. This is why behavioural sciences have become essential for customer studies.

customer studies packaging neurosciences

 

 

In this example, the labels of Champagne bottles vary in complexity. Do you wish to communicate a ‘feminine’ feeling? The label on the right should rather be used. Do you wish to communicate a sensation of ‘modernity’ and ‘authenticity’? The label on the left is more likely to generate them. Would these conclusions have been reached following traditional customer studies and creators’ mere intuitions? No.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN SUMMARY

 

Behavioural sciences enable us to access significantly more data that traditional customer studies. Perceptions, representations, judgments, intentions… Neurosciences, along with social psychology, possess technical tools to accurately assess the objective impact of a new product or its packaging on consumers. And these tools go beyond simple statements that often turn out to be biased and subjective. Your customers show unconscious judgments and representations that traditional customer studies cannot identify. Because each and every conception detail can have an unexpected but substantial influence on consumers’ perceptions and intentions, neurosciences provide more reliable and more objective methods than intuition or chance.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Morgan David

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.