The Consumer Neuroscience Company
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01. September 2019

Understanding Consumer Neuroscience 

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With Cognitive Neuroscientist Shikher Chaudhary, we unravel consumer neuroscience of why sports content garners the strongest emotional engagement.

Did you know that 80 to 90 percent decisions taken by the consumers are on a subconscious level? These subconscious decisions subsequently help consumers create affinity with an advertisement and a brand leading to a purchase decision. But how does one understand these subconscious decisions that the consumer himself might not be able to explain as to why he took it?

Enter — Consumer Neuroscience — application of neuroscience parameters to understand consumer behaviour. Shikher Chaudhary, Cognitive Neuroscientist, Director of Neurons Inc. India demystifies the concept of Consumer Neuroscience while sharing key takeaways pertaining to Indian viewers’ content choices.

Understanding Consumer Neuroscience

To understand applied neuroscience, we first need to decode what exactly is Neuroscience. To break it down, neuroscience includes learning how we pay attention, show emotion, how memory works, how thoughts are formed, and so on. Understanding these functions of the brain in a large setting helps understand human behaviour as a whole. This basic knowledge of the brain constitutes neuroscience.

Traditional research forms such as surveys, focus groups or interviews tend to be limited in their scope for they do not account for the subconscious decisions, choices, and biases that influence human conclusions.

“Research from the past three to four decades has suggested that consumer responses aren’t entirely human responses. 80 to 90 per cent decisions taken by the consumers are on a subconscious level,” Chaudhary tells Social Samosa as he explains Consumer Neuroscience.

He further adds that while traditional only unearths the top layer of these consumer decisions, applied or consumer neuroscience takes technology and tools out of the lab scenario and tests the consumers in real life understanding their realtime response to advertisements and zeroes down on decision drivers in the purchase journey.

“Neuroscience helps understand drivers of consumer behaviour — what do the consumers actually like and not what they would share in a survey,” Chaudhary quips. “This helps us understand what consumers like or do not like, how they build a perception, and how brand loyalty comes into play later.”

As a part of consumer neuroscience denominators like facial coding and eye tracking are used to understand how the viewer is reacting to a certain ad or a piece of content. A combination of tools such as EEG Brain Mapping — a portable headgear with a tiny computer and electric nodes, Eye Tracking Electronic Glasses, and AI are used to understand a consumer’s response. These findings help brands understand consumer preferences and needs, enabling them to design sharper communication and advertising.

As a part of their initiatives, Neurons Inc. India conducted an advertising testing to understand how a viewer responds to the exact same advertisement differently when it is aired between different genres of content. “We tried to understand if we air exactly the same advertisement on news content, GECs, Movies, and Sports — do the viewers engage with the same ad differently across different genres? According to our research, sports content by itself shows the strongest emotional engagement from the viewers. This tends to translate for brands which are marketing on sports content,” Chaudhary shared.

The report further suggests that the mental effort required for viewers to process the same brands on sports content was at an overall level 9.83% lower than that on General Entertainment Content. Further, sports content resulted in almost 3 times the increase in brand equity as GEC content. Viewers also exhibited 3.55% more emotional engagement.

 

Chaudhary explained that Live Sports content helps create what is called The Halo Effect. “The Halo Effect basically means that if you advertise on content that works well for the brand then the content’s goodwill transfers on the brand as well.”

This also impacts the consumer’s Purchase Intent which fluctuates depending on the genre of the content. For example, the Purchase Intent towards ads shown during sports is 3.67% more than GEC, 13.33% more than news and 7.67% more than movies.

Chaudhary shares that it is the anticipatory nature of Live Sports that helps create this level of quality engagement. “If you have vested interest in a match, like you might want your favourite team to play well or your favourite player to perform better, this causes a heightened sense of anticipation. The uncertain nature of sporting events allows a far more deeper emotional investment that other genres do.”

Because of the unpredictable outcome of a match when a team you were rooting for wins, it creates dopamine in the brain which creates a more pleasurable response. “Anticipation is different from expectations,” adds Chaudhary. He explains that while watching a movie or a GEC content you have a pattern in mind and expect what comes next. Thus, anticipation doesn’t arrive from these pieces of genre.

Data too shows similar trends. Viewers also experience lower levels of distraction during the ads when it was aired on sports content. “There was 4.89% higher Distraction while watching ads during entertainment shows than sports,” Chaudhary informs Social Samosa.

Going Forward…

As attention span reduces and data becomes cheap, clutter of campaigns increases. Consumer Neuroscience helps brands map intricate and deeper buried touchpoints that consumers experience leading to a purchase decision. Going forward, it will be these smaller intricacies that help brands create a more experienced and personalized experience.

Tune in as Chaudhary takes us through various aspects of neuroscience in marketing while explaining how consumers respond better to sports content as compared to other genres.