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A Conversation with Michelle Adams


Welcome to Freeman+Leonard and thank you for sharing your unique consumer research methodology with our readers.  We think you have developed a fascinating mind reading capability that can allow marketers to optimize advertising & marketing messages to more accurately stimulate the purchase behavior of their customers!  WOW.

What exactly does Marketing Brainology do?

MA:  Our research team at Marketing Brainology focuses on the art and science of human decision making. We work across a variety of categories and with various companies to help them cultivate messaging and advertising, along with the customer experience.

This ensures that consumers and shoppers are connecting with the content that brand marketers want them to see.

Marketers are pretty familiar with eye tracking studies. What does neuroscience add to this methodology?

MA: The Marketing Brainology lab facilitates neuromarketing techniques by utilizing 16-sensor medical grade EEG equipment with advanced eye-tracking technology, where we can test a variety of advertising and marketing scenarios. What a consumer or shopper doesn’t see is also important when developing campaigns.

But we also believe that it isn’t enough to study behavior in the lab – we want to understand how shopping patterns can in-turn direct and inform advertising decisions and future in-store investments

How long has neuroscience or cognitive science been used in the study of consumer purchase behavior?

MA: Using neuroscience tools for optimizing marketing is fairly new. I had the opportunity to introduce it to PepsiCo in 2008 when we first started testing Frito-Lay ads. This quickly led us to creating four Neurolabs in a 40,000-square-foot retail testing center in Addison, Texas. It has become more widely accepted in the past 8-10 years, with Coca-Cola and P&G adding their own Neurolabs. Marketing Brainology created our own labs over two years ago.

 How exactly do you go from brain waves to consumers’ decisions to make an actual purchase? 

MA: In the beginning, neuroscientists claimed they found a “Buy” button and could see this using EEG. They didn’t ask consumers questions about the “why” their brains reacted. We have since learned we need to synthesize the results from eye-tracking, EEG, and 1-to-1 interviews because consumers often react to content but we don’t understand the “why” until we interview them. The interview helps us understand positive or negative brain reactions. Often, we see “no” reaction to brand content. This is key information for us to understand also. This means they will have no or limited recall of the content because there wasn’t a connection.

 Marketers have been studying their consumers for years.  Why is this form of “mind reading” any better than observing purchases in the shopping aisle?  

MA: Well, now we can go beyond observation and post-purchase interviewing to actually understand what is happening in the brain when a consumer views or experiences certain “purchase triggers.”  Neuroscience gets us so much closer to truly understanding the impact of messaging, merchandising, packaging, promotions, pricing and more.  All the points of decision making can be far more accurately identified, and content optimized to target consumer preferences.  It is having a dramatic impact on marketing to the decision-making process.

What types of clients are best served by studying consumer decision making and purchase behavior?

MA: Our team specializes in mobile and lab eye-tracking, neuroscience using EEG, Ecommerce & digital UX & CX projects, and in-store shopping. We regularly work with companies in the hospitality, restaurant, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods industries.