Why consumer neuroscience?
Increasingly these marketing consultants are turning to neuroscience in an attempt to gather physical evidence of their theories. Such inquiries have led to the championing of various neuromarketing companies claiming to reveal new, neuroscientific insights. Most of these companies work with either physiological or non-invasive brain imaging techniques. Such techniques, many of them rather cost-ineffective and lacking scientific benchmarks for marketing research purposes, are mostly applied within a small focus group.
At Mindspeller, we believe in the importance of brand associations. Several techniques have been proposed to collect brand associations (Low and Lamb, 2000; Sena and Petromilli, 2005; Revella, 2015; Brunnthaller, 2015). Traditionally, marketers resort to questionnaires (administered during on-line surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews) to collect brand attribute ratings, positive/negative associations, uniqueness of associations, agreement with desired associations, etc. (Park and Srinivasan, 1994; Low and Lamb, 2000; Belén et al., 2001; Gladden and Funk, 2002; O’Cass and Frost, 2002; Spears et al., 2006; Malär et al., 2012; Grohs et al., 2016). There are several brand equity studies where the consumer’s perception of a brand was gauged in terms of awareness associations using a traditional survey. These papers describe brands as clusters of associations organized in a semantic network (also termed ‘association network’) with nodes representing brands and products, and attributes linked to other nodes (e.g. in Fig. 1, left panel, the node ‘Nike’ is linked to the node ‘athletic shoes’). After identifying the semantic network, he was able to calculate the value of a brand and examine differences between competing mature and new brands. Although the results were encouraging, the proposed approach still fails to address the marketer’s main challenge: aligning the company’s desired portrayal of the brand (brand identity) with what is actually perceived by the customer (brand image) (Srivastava and Thomas, 2010). This is due to the limited scope in traditional semantic networks, which represents brands and their associations only, restricting brand comparison to those that share associations. Moreover, its links are non-directional and have no association strength, even though directionality and association strength are considered important aspects of a semantic network (Anderson, 1983a).
That said, sound symbolism (the automatic linguistic process by which the individual sounds of a word – phonemes – provide cues as to its meaning) may play an important role in how speakers infer meaning from fictitious or unfamiliar brand names, which affects how they perceive those brands’ attributes (Yorkston and Menon, 2004). For example, Yorkston and Menon (2004) show that the participants in their study tended to associate Frosh with creamier, smoother ice cream in detriment of Frish, despite them both being fictitious brand names (which conformed to the authors’ hypothesis – based on empirical evidence in the literature – that the back vowel in Frosh conveys ‘heaviness’, whereas the front vowel in Frish does not). However, the authors also warn that alternate information made available at the time at which brand names are encountered may undercut these phonetic effects.
In computational linguistics, it is commonly accepted that the relationships between semantic entities (words, images, sounds…) are a crucial feature of the organization of our semantic memory. A popular model underpinning many semantic priming experiments is the spreading activation model (Vigliocco et al., 2004; Collins and Loftus, 1975; Anderson, 1983b), whereby the activation caused by a semantic entity (“prime”) spreads through the network pre-activating related entities (Fig. 2, left). If one uses a network model to describe semantic memory, the following question arises: how can the nature of the relationship between the semantic entities, as well as the different kinds of relationships, contribute to the priming effect? To answer that question, one needs to be able to retrieve these semantic relationships.
As spin-out from Europe's most innovative university, KU Leuven, Mindspeller has developed the world's largest semantic network, validated by a peer reviewed, medical grade EEG based Brain-Computer-Interfacing protocol. Our neurometric - the Mindspeller Association Score (or 'MAS') - represents a proxy to the subconscious association strength between any two semantically related concepts in the network. Read here how Mindspeller's founder, Professor Dr. Ir. Marc Van Hulle obtained international acclaim helping patients with locked-in syndrome communicate via the Mindspeller Brain-Computer-Interface.
Through a user-friendly AI solution we offer marketing executives around the world access to the world's largest implicit brand association database or 'map of the collective subconscious'. We offer inspiration and validation, factoring in real subconscious biases, in order to augment intuition and benchmark brand stories and related campaign assets based on latest consumer neuroscience.
Our SaaS platform provides decision support and actionable insights before rolling out your next marketing campaign. Quickly measure your concept brand assets before, during and after your campaign to get peace of mind through the knowledge that your brand is emotionally connecting with your target audience.