The Consumer Mind
Digging deeper with Neuroscience
Though the Stengel Study of Business Growth proved the importance of a brand ideal to inspire employees and drive inside-out business growth, Millward Brown also wanted to understand whether and how ideals impact consumers’ minds, their attitudes and behaviors.
Our neuroscience team devised a method to uncover the implicit associations that people held between brands and ideals. The research program developed specifically for the book and the Grow study provided insights on the types of associations some of Stengel 50 brands and their competitors “activate” in people’s mind – explicitly, and implicitly, i.e., thoughts and feelings consumers may not be able to articulate.
The experiment didn’t ask people directly whether they consciously associated attributes or fields with certain brands. Instead, it relied on the fact that every time a person sees or thinks about a brand, including any word or image, it activates a network of associations to that brand in the neural pathways of the brain. The firing of neural pathways leaves a chemical trace that decays slowly, so that the pathway remains active, with decreasing intensity, for a period of time. This makes it easier and quicker to trigger pathways which have been recently activated than pathways which have not been recently activated. So if a person identifies a word such as explore faster after seeing one brand’s name rather than another’s, it indicates that the person associates the quality of exploration more strongly with one brand rather than the other.
Using both these new implicit measures that modern neuroscience makes possible and traditional explicit measures of people’s conscious associations, we found that people experienced the Stengel 50 brands as being deeply ideal-based and as being more ideal-based than their competition.
The associations between the ideals fields and the select Stengel 50 brands were even stronger in the implicit measures than in the explicit ones, showing that the ideals and ideals fields influence people at the most fundamental level of their gut reactions. This evidence shows that ideals indeed move markets individual by individual.
The increasing scalability of neuroscience techniques offers new and exciting possibilities for getting inside the mind of the consumer. Millward Brown is the only leading, full-service research agency to have a dedicated, global neuroscience practice. With experts in North America, Latin America, Europe and AMEA, our neuroscience practice offers solutions that are integrated into our existing research suite to provide incremental insights. This includes:
- Implicit Measurement & Emotional Priming: Enabling us to get at consumers’ intuitive, ‘gut level’ thoughts and feelings about a brand, an ad, a concept, a logo or other stimulus.
- Facial Coding: For moment-by-moment insights of the emotional response to advertising, delivering optimized campaigns and communications.
- Eye Tracking: To gain a precise understanding of what captures consumers’ visual attention informing stronger ad campaigns, better packaging, and more satisfying shopper experiences.