Customer studies & neuroscience: using cutting-edge techniques
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.
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
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.
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.