Mark gave this presentation at the Product Development Management Assoc. – LA on June 15, 2011.
Consumers can only juggle 7 things in their mind at any one time. There are way too many choices in the market for us to rationally navigate all the marketing & advertising “stuff” that bombards us all day long. So how do consumers navigate all this “stuff”. According to Neuroscientist Antonio Darmasio, a part of our brain the Orbitofrontal cortex integrates sensory, emotion and memory information. This integration happens mostly on the subconscious level. Some 80% of thought is sub-conscious, where we have limited access to it. The other 20% is the conscious mind, which is where most marketers aim. Our memories are tagged with emotion.
Each decision has a connection with an emotion/decision in our past. If we were deprived of this connection, we would find it nearly impossible to decide based on logic alone. We have no feeling of what is right to guide us. He showed a short video clip of “Marvin” who had brain damage to his Orbitofrontal cortex, and struggled with the simple task of deciding which greeting card to buy.
Every touch point is a chance for a marketer to create an emotional connection with the customer. Product image & emotion combined help the customer decide, “Is it right for me?” Mark suggested trying to find out what it is that the consumer is trying to compensate for. Where is the emotional/cultural deficit?
Since we can’t directly access the 80% of the customers thinking (the subconscious mind) how do we gain access to this level of thought? How do we find out what the brand character is ? Mark explained that we have to use one on one interviews and indirect questioning methods. We need to be an Anthropologist, an learn how meaning is applied in that consumers culture. We look at how a “Need” is represented in that culture, and gather images that represent that need or needs. This allows us to decode the meaning of that image for that consumer.
The use of images, photos, drawings, etc allows the subject to pick what best represents the image closest to the product in question. We can also ask what kind of person would buy – use this product. Describe what this person would look like; what other products would they use. This indirect approach does not trigger the rational mind. The images selected will tell us how the product fits into that consumer’s world. It will also give us clues on how to position the product. The images will tell us the story.
This was a great presentation on the fuzzy front end of product development, and the neuroscience behind it.