"What if a marketer found a calculation or algorithm to correctly predict a consumer's choice 85% of the time?"
That was a question we posited to our business partner years ago during a lunch break. If we had that deep an understanding of human behavior and the influences each individual consumer is under, that kind of power could be overwhelming. Marketing campaigns could be so individualized and personal, it might be a little spooky at first. Eventually, or maybe we should say hopefully, consumers would appreciate our efforts and give in to the total knowledge we'd have on how they operate.
Of course, that future still seems out of our reach. Probably a good thing.
But marketing and communication professionals, us included, continue to be fascinated with how researching human behavior and how people think could influence our marketing activities. The field of neuromarketing, introducing social science concepts in order to influence marketing decisions, is still fairly new, although many of the actual theories and ideas have been around for some time.
As consumers continue to get bombarded with marketing campaigns, and as they gather more information about goods and services on their own, brands and marketers are trying to figure out which influences convince the consumer to buy. If a person sees two types of chocolate, what makes them choose one over the other? What price for jeans is considered "too high"? Does it matter if they just paid for gas or their mortgage bill?
A recent article from Phys.Org mentioned that understanding why consumers pay for products will eventually get easier, meaning that brands can then fulfill needs and wants better as they'll understand motives. The article mentioned watching the brain activity of the consumer when they see a product and then a product with a price, and it mentioned watching the eye movements (eye or retinal mapping) of the consumer and how vision cues brain activity and decision-making.
All of that is well and good, but that still doesn't quite capture desire, motive, intent, and really mapping out the decision-making process.
We still have a ways to go before we can look at someone, ask two questions, and provide an ad that will satisfy everything they want and more. But our research colleagues are making great strides.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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