Nielsen shares what’s inside consumers’ minds at CMA event

With the title “chief provocateur,” it was no surprise that Nielsen’s Dr. A.K. Pradeep would shake things up as the opening keynote at the Canadian Marketing Association’s 2014 Customer Experience Conference on Tuesday. And enlighten he did. Drawing on his experience as founder and CEO of Nielsen’s NeuroFocus division—a post he held until stepping into […]

With the title “chief provocateur,” it was no surprise that Nielsen’s Dr. A.K. Pradeep would shake things up as the opening keynote at the Canadian Marketing Association’s 2014 Customer Experience Conference on Tuesday.

And enlighten he did. Drawing on his experience as founder and CEO of Nielsen’s NeuroFocus division—a post he held until stepping into his current role at Nielsen last year—he shared unique insights on neuroscience and how consumers make purchase decisions.

From in the aisle to online, his explained that he doesn’t come from a marketing background – he has a PhD in engineering. But he eventually devoted his career to neuroscience and penned the book The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind, which details how advances in neuroscience effect everything from packaging to advertising.

In the last five years alone, Pradeep said scientists have learned more about the brain than in the entire history of neuroscience.

In his lively presentation (during which he teased people preoccupied with their phones as he discussed the importance of measuring consumers’ attention), Pradeep outlined the seven dimensions through which the brain looks at things during the shopping experience: information, interaction, entertainment, education, simplicity, self-worth and community.

It’s key that marketers do well in all of these areas to provide consumers with a superior experience, because “this isn’t an a la carte menu,” said Pradeep.

Under the information umbrella, he said it’s critical for marketers to find the “category-busting metric” in their category and emphasize that differentiator to consumers. For example, with cameras the category-busting metric is megapixels. With computers, it’s gigahertz. Consumers may not know what those things actually are, but they know that they’re important and that gives them value, said Pradeep.

“If you’re competing on price, you probably don’t have a category-busting metric,” said Pradeep.

Breaking down the education dimension, he said consumers crave new facts. Learning new things actually releases dopamine in the brain; he described learning even little facts as “extraordinary dopamine squirters.” So even sharing a small new fact with consumers (a simple factoid on packaging counts—it doesn’t have to be anything complex) is a powerful way to create an experience for them, he said.

He also spoke of how simplicity is vital in creating better experiences for consumers. He gave several examples: always have three image groups (any more than that is overwhelming); put images on the left and words on the right (neuroscience proves this is more effective because of how the different sides of the brain process information); women’s ability to process language is three times better than men’s (women will read everything on a sign, while men will look at the visuals).

And when it comes to self-worth, Pradeep advised marketers to ask themselves this question: “Every time your consumer has an experience with you, how have you made them feel better about themselves?”

Boosting people’s self-esteem creates a great consumer experience, he said, offering a “one-dollar trick” for retail aisles: include a mirror in new product displays. Why? Because if a person catches their reflection, their love for themselves “smears a bit” and creates a halo effect for the product so they’ll be more inclined to purchase, he said.

On the flip side, he pointed out that it’s a good idea to put mirrors around the customer service centre in-store. People don’t like how they look when they get mad.

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