Cos using neuroscience to map response to advertisements

  • Nachiket Kelkar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2014 01:17 IST

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major Godrej Group recently launched a new consumer connect initiative Masterbrand 2.0, under which the company will launch a series of advertisements showcasing new products across its brands. While it had a similar initiative last year, this time it plans to study consumer response of at least some of the commercials with the help of neuroscience.

Earlier, companies used to conduct market research via interviews, questionnaires and focused groups. But, that is now likely to become a thing of the past with neuroscience claiming to offer more accurate consumer reaction via brain mapping techniques.

Market research agency Nielsen has opened a first neuroscience lab in Mumbai; it now has 13 such labs around the world. It says by studying people at the most fundamental level, by measuring brain waves and tracking eye movements at its labs, it is able to provide a real-time view of a consumer’s subconscious reactions to a brand commercial.

“Earlier, companies would not be in a position to figure out why a particular brand did not do well or didn’t get a good response. By mapping brain responses to commercials or brand logos, we are able to draw inferences about what went, or could possibly go wrong,” said Joe Willke, president, Nielsen Neurofocus.

According to Nielsen, the technique was recently used by an advertising agency for an air freshner commercial, while a car maker used it to study consumer responses to the design aspects of a new car.

FMCG companies in India too are now experimenting with it.

“Nielsen approached us and we want to experiment and see if it actually gives the claimed results. The technique of not asking direct questions, but focusing on the person’s instincts could probably be a better approach and yield better results,” said Shireesh Joshi, head — strategic marketing, Godrej Group.

Cigarettes maker ITC, which has been scaling up its FMCG business, is also using neuroscience tools to study consumer connect. “ITC ensures that its fast-moving consumer products are differentiated to deliver consumer delight across all moments of truth. New age analytical tools combined with traditional research techniques have often helped ITC in garnering superior consumer understanding,” a company spokesperson said.

Before the first full-fledged lab opened in Mumbai last week, Nielsen was doing neuroscience tests via pop-up labs. Now with rising demand, the company says it may look at setting up another lab in Delhi. It has a team in Chennai, which does the data processing once an experiment is completed. Nielsen has 15 neuroscientists on staff globally, supported by a science advisory board.

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