Good morning and happy 2013! I hope you all had lovely holidays and are having a fantastic start to the New Year. As I’ve mentioned recently, we’re expanding Brand Fast-Trackers this year. I’m really excited to start offering more relevant, helpful content beyond the podcasts. So stay tuned!
Today, we are returning to our shopper marketing series with Chris Brace and taking a bit of a different tack. We marketers always speak of demographics. Who is your target? Maybe there is even a photo hanging up of your target – Nancy, your sexy soccer mom who enjoys yoga or Jim, your tech-nerd who loves football. Therein lies the misconception. Your target is not a person, says Chris, it is their brain.
“The concept of the target is outdated [because] as a marketer you have to understand how the brain works. Unless we understand how the brain works, we are really just shooting in the dark.”
Most startling pieces of today’s episode:
- 95% of human decision making process is subconscious. Only 5% of every decisions are made in our conscious mind. Yet, most of the time, we speak to our consumers logical, conscious mind.
- Of that 95%, the majority is emotional. When faced with any decision, and it doesn’t matter if you are deciding on something major like a house or a spouse(!) or something as simple as a pen. Attention is a result of emotion.
As marketers we have to begin unlearning what the role of the consumer end benefit plays. If you understand the drivers behind purchase decision (emotions!) then you can trip those in your marketing. There are so many more nuggets here, so tune in below:
[Lead Image by RedBubble]
Updated to include Full Transcript:
Brian: Hello everybody and welcome to an episode of Brand Fast Trackers. I’m your host Brian Martin. One of the areas that is most frequently commented on by brand managers, marketing directors, those who study brand management is an emerging area called the shopper, because the way that we shop is changing. The paths that we take are changing. The moments are no longer just moments of going to a store.
The moments now are almost ever present around us. We’re shopping constantly and the essence of shopper marketing is changing and certainly has changed more in the past few years than it probably has in the previous 20. This is also an area that within brands there is not a lot of focus. There’s tremendous training around copy and even understanding social, mobile, digital. But there’s not as much training around the area of shopper marketing, which is why I’m really delighted to have Chris Brace with us.
Chris is a classically trained consumer packaged goods marketer as you can tell. But he has extensive experience understanding the shopper, understanding brand management, understanding traditional advertising and traditional promotion. He’s able to draw on these experiences to put together a viewpoint that really few have. This is why I am delighted to have him on for a number of different episodes as we tackle a few key questions. So Chris, thanks so much for joining us today.
Chris: Thanks Brian. Glad to be here.
Brian: You know as marketers they often talk about the target, the target audience and the target audience is often a demographic group, like women 25 to 49, and they can see that person. As a matter of fact I remember going to some office where the marketers would actually have pictures of their target consumer on their badge. So they’d flip it around and say, “Oh, no. My target is Nancy, She’s a sexy soccer mom who enjoys yoga and likes to spend time with friends.” They’d have that picture on there. But it really isn’t Nancy. The target really is Nancy’s mind, her brain.
Chris: Exactly. In fact, we shouldn’t even be using the word “target”, because in essence the word “target” means something that we can shoot at and that if we aim properly, we can hit them dead center. We know today that consumers and shoppers are constantly moving. They are the ones that are deciding when and where to opt in to any type of marketing message. So even just the concept of them just being a target is outdated. But what expect of them that we’re really going after, that we really want to communicate and connect with is their brain.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, it’s like if you are a marketer when you think about what is your craft, if anything, you kind of have to understand how the brain works, because that is indeed the domain with which you’re trying to influence. You’re trying to influence the person. The person is driven by the brain and if you don’t understand how the brain operates and how we make decisions, you don’t understand that skill set. But that skill set is not taught anywhere.
Chris: No. It’s not actually, and if you think of what marketing is, it’s very simple. It’s a very simple formula. We build a relationship with a consumer to then shift their behavior to get them to buy our product. Unless we understand how humans make decisions like really the process our brains go through in our decision making. Unless we understand that we really are just shooting in the dark as to how to complete that formula and really effect their behavior.
Brian: So, how do we – like, what are some of the most important elements to keep in mind as marketers? If you were going to – I’ve never studied the brain and I kind of need to understand it because I’m a marketer now. What are some of the most important things that I have to keep in mind?
Chris: The very first thing I tell people, and it is the simplest part to understand is that 95% of the human decision-making process is subconscious. If you’re thinking about that, then that means that only 5% of every decision that we make, every day, 5% of that is only done in our conscious mind.
Brian: Now why do you say that?
Chris: It’s been proven. I mean, if you read up on neurobiology and neuroscience and you look in sociology, psychology, anthropology, all of these ologies, it has been proven over and over and over and over again that where our decision are largely made is in our subconscious not our conscious mind. That’s the very first thing because if you look at what we do in marketing, we speak most of the time to our consumers and shoppers’ logical, conscious mind.
Chris: That’s just not where they really make the decisions. We’re speaking to the wrong area.
Brian: How do you speak to – well, let’s back up for a minute. The brain has a bunch of different parts to it, right? It has different elements, different areas of the brain, and the non-conscious brain or the unconscious brain is, there certainly is a lot written about it. But what have you studied, what have you learned, what have you seen that you believe to be absolutely true as it relates to the unconscious mind, as it relates to marketing?
Chris: Well, I think the biggest thing is that of the 95% of our decision-making process that’s subconscious, the majority of it is emotional. So when we are faced with any choice, any decision and I don’t care if that is a very highly emotionally involved decision like buying a house, having kids, getting married, or if it’s buying a pen or a stick of gum, our emotional wiring is what activates first when we are faced with making that decision.
Which says to us as marketers, we need to be speaking to the emotional aspect of our consumers and shoppers. We need emotional propositions, emotional positioning, and emotional communications.
Brian: Well, it’s interesting. I read something that was a conclusion in a book, that was a rather thick book and I think it was called “The Advertised Mind”. That book concluded that attention is a result of emotion, meaning emotion comes first, and then attention follows.
Chris: Yes. I like that actually.
Brian: What gets your attention is not attention. You must first trigger emotion because where emotion goes, attention will flow.
Chris: Absolutely. I think every marketing team at every agency has the perception that we can disrupt consumers and shoppers or interrupt them to capture their attention. In reality, that’s really not true. It’s certainly not the most effective way. The best way to do that is by connecting with them emotionally. That’s the best way enter their attention because humans – attention for us is a zero-sum game. We don’t have an unlimited attention capacity. We only can manage about three to four pieces of information at a time.
Brian: So when you think about this in the context of how we make buying decisions, how shoppers make decisions, what are some of the – we’ve not been taught this , what you’re talking about. We kind of have, I think as marketers, some preconceived notions as it relates to how we buy, how we shop. What are some of the things in your mind that you think we need to begin unlearning?
Chris: Wow. I think one of the first things that we need to do is that we need to actually unlearn what the role of the consumer-end benefit plays. Okay? This comes back to really understanding what are the drivers of our purchase decisions? These things are called subconscious emotional triggers. That really gets that understanding how we make decisions.
If we understand what those emotional purchase triggers are, then we’re going to understand how to actually trip those through our communications so we can connect with consumers emotionally and change their behavior.
Brian: So it’s not so much the end benefit, which is often times the – “This new particular laundry detergent has extra bleach so my whites are going to be even whiter, and that’s going to make me feel as though my family loves me more.” It’s not that set of benefits.
Brian: It’s the set of benefits that are more emotional triggers. Can you walk us through some of those?
Chris: Yeah. So, let me just give you an example. What this really comes down to is understanding the difference between values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Those are actually a hierarchy. Right? We start with values at the bottom. Those are the very first things that we develop as human beings. These are just fundamentally intrinsic things that define our personality – trust, respect, love, honor.
Brian: Things that are important for us to feel.
Chris: Exactly. But when it comes to strategy or communication, they’re inactionable. You can’t use them. You can’t build an entire brand on trust. You can’t build a communication platform on honesty. So then we get to beliefs. Beliefs are things that we hold to be true about ourselves, others, and about the world around us. They don’t even necessarily need to be true. But our beliefs, these things that we do believe to be true, then shape our attitudes.
An attitude, very simply is our judgment of any set of circumstances or any situation that we step in to. Then, our behavior is how do we act given our attitude about that specific situation? So our beliefs shape our attitudes which drive our behavior, and if you look at where we spend most of the time researching, and where we spend most of our research dollars, it’s at the behavioral level. We sketch a little bit into attitudes, but not very deep.
The problem is, is that our behaviors and our attitudes change all the time. Our beliefs on the other hand, rarely change. They change through life stage or through really emotionally traumatic events. For example, September 11th shifted a lot of peoples’ belief systems. But by and large they don’t change. So they make a much better basis for strategy and communication.
Brian: Is a belief system similar to – it’s like the cognitive belief system. It’s like one’s self-concept.
Chris: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it could be, “I’m smart. I deserve success. I deserve love.” It could also be, “I’m dumb. I don’t deserve success, and I don’t deserve love.” So again, it can be positive, negative, does not matter whether it’s true. So let me give you an example. There is actually a laundry detergent brand in Europe that leveraged this kind of thinking. What they identified is that their target had a belief that life is really meant to be experienced, not watched.
This shaped their attitude about how they raised their kids. These moms believed that if their kids were out getting dirty, picking up rocks, playing with worms, rolling around in the mud, if they came back after being out all day and they were dirty, they had experienced life. These moms bought that brand, because it got the dirt of life out of their kids’ clothes, and they didn’t have to worry about it.
Now if you think about developing communications based on that model that, “Life is meant to be experienced so I want my kids to get dirty. I use brand X,” versus, what do we normally see? “This laundry detergent gets out 99% more dirt that the competitor,” or, “We’re more concentrated,” or, “We have a nice, fresh scent.” Which one is more engaging? Which one will connect more and just fundamentally be more differentiated?
Brian: I think it’s very clear that example that you give. That’s a great example. Let me go back there for a minute. A belief that life is meant to be experienced, that’s probably a consequence, almost, of one of the things that you said a moment ago. “I am this. I am that. I am that. Therefore life is meant to be experienced.”
Chris: Yeah. It might be that way. So, a belief can be a belief you have about yourself, about others, or the world around you.
Brian: Overall belief about life
Chris: Exactly. So I think in this case the actual belief is about the world that it should be experienced. I have personally – I’ll give you a personal example – I also have that same belief. I’m a very experiential person. Now, I will never be jumping out of a plan, nor will I ever be bungy jumping. But it does explain why I am a loyal users of Listerine, because life is meant to be experienced. Intense flavor sensations for me, very experiential. That pretty much describes what Listerine is.
Brian: Hmm. So there’s a lot here to think about. In sum, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions as we wind down this episode. Obviously it’s imperative that marketers understand that the domain of their craft has to be the brain. They have to understand how it works. Many of their communications probably focus on a similar area, which is more around behavior, much of the research focused on behavior.
If they want to get deeper, values and beliefs are certainly a place to begin. How would they practically begin to get some of that information, so they could find out something similar within their target as to life is meant to be experienced?
Chris: Yeah. That’s the ultimate question. So it’s actually quite simple. If you really think about how we as humans really express our true selves, we do it through storytelling. Right? That’s how we express true subconscious feelings and our real personality and real beliefs. So the best way to do this type of research is to just involve people in unfacilitated storytelling.
Normal focus groups, normal research is facilitated discussion. It’s question, answer, question, answer. This is unfacilitated storytelling. We do it with two friends that were recruited for the same reasons and we just very cleverly get them engaged in storytelling and then we just let them talk, and we just sit back. If you let them do that, they will tell you everything and more that you want to know.
Brian: So these are the two consumers that would be within the demographic target of the brand?
Chris: Yep. You just get them involved in storytelling. They’ll tell you everything you want to know. It’s amazing.
Brian: Then, through that process, you’re able to get to their beliefs?
Chris: Right. You just have to know what to look for.
Brian: Fascinating. Understanding the domain of the mind as it relates to figuring out how we buy what we buy. Thanks so much, Chris.
Chris: Thank you.