Decoding the Irrational Consumer, by Darren Bridger – An overview.
By Duncan Smith
So you’ve heard of this word floating around ‘Neuromarketing’, but what is it? If you are in the marketing profession and looking to expand your market research horizons with something new, it is well worth reading ‘Decoding the Irrational Consumer’ by Darren Bridger, 2015.
Bridger provides an easily digestible insight into the world of Neuromarketing and everything that surrounds it in manageable chunks. By the time you have finished you will be clued up and ready to kick off your next campaign with neuromarketing at the heart.
This book begins with a useful insight into the way in which we, as humans, think and make decisions, which undoubtedly has an important impact on the way practitioners undertake market research. Bridger states that the irrational thinking of consumers comes from an energy-saving, unconscious ‘System 1’ mode of thinking. He makes the point that markers need to ensure they understand this way of thinking in order to fully understand consumers’ choices and deliver campaigns that appeal. Because marketers are now beginning to understand the limited value in simply asking people what they think and instead, are investigating a whole range of new techniques, also known as neuromarketing.
The author explains that the most important elements of neuromarketing are to have a solid understanding of the way in which the brain operation, in particular, the role of memory, attention and emotion. Us humans have a limited attention span meaning we require an awful lot of non-conscious processing to ‘fill in the gaps’. Memories and assumptions bias our perceptions, so with this in mind it becomes clear that marketers need to have a good grasp of non-conscious thought. He describes brands as nothing more than a ‘web of nonconscious memories’ and emotions as a ‘key motivating factor that likely evolved to get us to move’.
In terms of behavioural economics, Bridger argues that although consumers are constrained to a certain extent in that they cant be fully rational, they are however, able to make choices that make rational sense within the contexts they live. He adds to this by suggesting that value is often subjective and that consumers will tend to judge it more on relative comparisons that absolute amounts or costs. He suggests that the everyday consumer will continually come across products or services that they just arent willing to compromise on and others that will do. Meaning that in the end, they tend to come to a choice which is just good enough.
He goes on to discuss the mental biases that guide consumer choices on a day to day basis, also known as ‘heuristics’. The idea of these biases is based on the concept that people are more likely to fear loss over the opportunity of gain, unless of course they are ‘nudges’ towards a specific decision.
Implicit Association Testing (IAT) is commonly used in Neuromarketing in which instead of directly asking people their opinions, participants are asked to pair two concepts together and see how the different pairings either slow down or speed up simple categorisation tasks.
The book provides an overview of IAT explaining how participants reaction speeds on each pairing becomes a measurement of the degree of association between the two concepts. The author explains that there are a number of different implicit testing paradigms.
Academic – mostly test binary or positive vs. negative type associations whereas many of the market research paradigms test the connection between a wide array of attributes and a brand or ad.
Implicit response tests – powerful and versatile way of measuring the degree to which important qualities are being automatically evoked by a brand, ad, service or product.
Bridger concludes with a discussion of his thoughts about the future of neuroscience. With costs coming down and awareness of techniques increasing he believes the science will continue with three main areas of interest:
- More validation
With increasing pressure from clients, the field will be driven into more research into testing these metrics against real world sales data, effectively providing a stronger rationale for use.
- more understanding and insight
Through more use,a greater understanding about how and why different features in ads and communications perform well or poorly will likely accumulate. This will coincide with an increased understanding of the brain and its workings in relation to real world situations.
- New measures
More metrics using current techniques will be developed along with more user-friendly outputs. The number of devices consumers now own is growing at a rapid pace and can be used to track commercial messages. With wearable devices being able to monitor reactions and the sensors in smartphones leading allowing brands to track what is viewed online.
There’s a whole world of exciting new ways to engage consumers and really understand what drives their buying behaviour, and neuromarketing has the answers. Try giving ‘Decoding the Irrational Consumer’ a read for a real insight into how neuroscience can help improve engagement with your consumer base.
– Helen Ogden