The conjoined worlds of business and market research are constantly in flux. Changing media technologies demand new marketing strategies and adaptive research methodologies.
Evolution is also driven by the dynamism of consumer needs and attitudes. Ad avoidance, overtaxed attention spans and the growing expectation of multiplatform functionality all pressure marketers and researchers to devise ever-newer solutions to fundamentally old problems.
New media connect brands and consumers like never before, offering advertisers intimate access to a vast audience. Advances in technology have also dropped a mountain of consumer data in researchers’ laps, but the golden goose is more of a double-edged sword. Media fragmentation makes maintaining a consistent message across platforms and devices challenging and undermines efforts to effectively evaluate the performance of brand communications.
Consistent advertising promotes consumer learning and increases the strength and number of brand associations, both fundamental to brand equity. When brand messages are communicated differently across multiple media platforms, counterproductive, inconsistent and incoherent messaging often results, seriously undermining messaging efforts.
Unlocking the mysteries of human behavior
Behavioral science holds the key to overcoming or avoiding many of these obstacles. It is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand human behavior at both the conscious and nonconscious levels. Uniting neuroscience, psychology, anthropology and other disciplines, it reveals the internal and external influences that drive attitudes and behavioral change.
Behavioral scientists have been wrestling with the problem of human decision-making in an attention economy for some time. Dr. Herbert Simon, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, coined the phrase “poverty of attention” back in 1971, at the dawn of the information age.
“In an information-rich world,” he said, “the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes — the attention of its recipients.”
Simon wrote this before personal computers were commonplace — and, of course, pocket-sized. In the subsequent years, the tension between information and attention has become even more extreme. Behavioral scientists have remained at the forefront of understanding how humans make decisions under ever more information duress, but it is only recently that the value of these insights to advertising and market research has become widely appreciated.
At the risk of grossly oversimplifying this work, here are three best practices derived from behavioral science principles that are foundational to creating consistent and powerful messages across different digital media and markets.
1. A two-stage system for successful campaigns
Fundamental to behavioral science models is a distinction we have already made intuitively — between nonconscious and conscious thought. These two processes are known as System 1 and System 2, respectively. Each is triggered by distinct stimuli and has a unique application. Understanding the differences between them plays an important role in crafting impactful messaging and well-defined studies.
System 1 processing is usually nonconscious and reflexive. This is our default — the automatic way we respond to familiar stimuli. It is an almost instantaneous process, drawing on preconceptions and deeply rooted desires to provoke a gut reaction.
Conversely, the incorporation of new knowledge and rational …read more
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