Understanding the Emotional and Non-Conscious Underpinnings of Consumer Choices

Posted by: LRW
  • May 1, 2012
  • 8

Marketing researchers have developed several very good techniques for measuring rational brand connections and purchase decisions, but it is every marketer’s goal to understand all aspects of why consumers make the decisions they do.  Since most purchases occur quickly without extensive thought, marketers need to understand what drives the non-conscious and emotional aspects of consumer choice.

Understanding this is considered the “holy grail” of marketing; behavioral scientists estimate that between 75-95% of the decisions we make each day are non-conscious (even more, if automatic habits are included).

While traditional approaches to measuring rational and conscious attitudes towards a brand, product, message, ad, etc. are still important, measuring implicit attitudes can help marketers develop a deeper understanding of consumer choices.

Some have tried to better understand this area by using technology such as EEG and fMRI.  These technologies are great at measuring non-conscious activity, but these methods are expensive and require studies with smaller sample sizes that can lead to less representative results.  These applications are often  not scalable for business uses.

Here at LRW, while constantly trying to improve our methods to find the best way to deliver business impact, have been working with partners from UC Santa Barbara’s leading Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to develop a practical approach –Pragmatic Brain Science™–to understand the non-conscious and emotional aspects of consumer choices.

Using approaches based on 40+ years of social and cognitive psychology, we are developing a suite of techniques that can be done on a larger scale without the use of special equipment.  We have already had success using this in several industries (technology, CPG, entertainment) while trying to solve a variety of business issues (new product development, CSAT, brand equity, ad testing) with real applications in the business world.

What applications can you see for a pragmatic approach for measuring the implicit attitudes of consumers?  Is this approach the next big step in marketing or merely another technique to add to all of the marketing clutter?  Let us know your thoughts.

8 Comments
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