Brainy Bar 9: spotlighting women in neuroscience.

Posted by Chantel Ingarfield on the 9th October, 2019
Four women and three important themes: artificial intelligence, simplicity in customer experiences and sensorial marketing. Each talk from Brainy Bar 9 has a simple, single purpose: highlighting the importance of brand experience.

Walnut and WARC were once again thrilled to bring you the ninth instalment of the Brainy Bar at Unlimited House on 1st October 2019.

Dr Cristina de Balanzo, Director at Walnut Unlimited, welcomed the audience by introducing the event which was centered on spotlighting women in neuroscience. Having travelled the world discussing and lecturing on neuroscience, most recently at Cannes International Festival, Cristina is especially well placed to describe how women are important in every sector, but particularly within neuroscience there are women who are “not only pioneering, but are founders of companies who believe this niche can grow and have a role in research and marketing.”

Cristina set the evening in motion describing the three themes of the evening: the first, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how we are in the era of predictions. The second, easing the customer journey in a world that is complicated, sometimes we create brands that are difficult to understand – why do we not create fluency? Finally, the third theme, that while our world goes digital, the importance of the physical world can enhance experiences. She wraps up, explaining that all the talks have one single purpose, “demonstrating the importance of brand experience and how to enhance it.”

Our first speaker, Elissa Moses, CEO at BrainGroup Global launches us into the exciting world of Artificial Intelligence and the future it has in advertising and marketing. In her words “It’s more art than science and important for the human element to be a part of it.” She believes that measuring the non-conscious, independent of rational cognitive responses and finding the emotion in the ad is what can make them successful. She elaborates, stating that neuroscience has given us the tools and has changed the way we test adverts. What was once a method used under special circumstances is now used much more frequently.

Whilst she believes that AI can optimize advertising and marketing, she warns that predictive analysis is “only as good as the data that goes into it.” Elissa cautions that AI is not a fantasy and there are good and bad examples everywhere. Elissa emphasizes her point by giving an example of bad use of AI. We’ve all seen those automated Facebook bots cluttering our timeline? In this instance, the bot (or, more specifically, AI device) incorrectly calculated someone’s net worth based simply on a picture of their face – AI powered solutions (which in many contexts can have limitless potential) given bad data, and producing poor (and hugely inaccurate) results.

She also shared some research she ran a few years ago to determine the winning adverts at Cannes and Effie, an American Awards Ceremony for a marketing association based on performance in the marketplace. She detailed how one option was more creative an artsy and the other was more performance. When applied within the context of AI, these details that are imperative when “building algorithms and pinpointing what the drivers are for great advertising.” Award winning ads are quick to engage and have a ‘jolt’ that provokes various emotions, whether they are positive or negative, that makes you more engaged. Elissa mentions that these can be put into AI which can ultimately understand what advertising will be like. She also talked about AI for creativity and how novelty, ambiguity, motion, metaphor and humanity are “early indicators of potential for AI to create good advertising.”

Finally, she concluded that if we shared datasets of what performs well in the marketplace, when put together, we could begin the process of experimenting with AI and we will realise how advanced we can collectively be by understanding what really works.

Our next speak Dr. Ana Iorga, founder of Buyer Brain, talked about the neuroscience of effort. Ana jumped straight in by asking the audience if they caused pain to their clients. She was met with a few shocked face and understanding laughs (and a raised hand from Cristina), she continued that when customers have to go through any situation that results in effort, we put our clients through pain. Controversial? Maybe. Ana explained when we go through this effort, the insular in the brain gets activated and we react as if we are going through pain. With two main motivators of experience, pain and pleasure, pain is more likely to be the one that remains memorable. We are wired to avoid pain and so when confronted with a situation, your brain initiates an analysis to weigh the benefit against the pains.

Ana details that companies don’t have a good map of what customers want, customers are not loyal and, most importantly, we don’t want to go through pain. Effort is perceived as pain, has a non-monetary cost and is a stronger driver for a negative experience. She gives an example of a study of life made easy versus life made hard for customers. The results showed that when life was made hard, 64% will buy products from another brand whereas if you made life easy for them, 78% would continue to buy from you.

Why measure customer effort? She explains with another example a study looking at the correlation between customer satisfaction, effort and loyalty. They found out that effort predicts customer satisfaction with a high correlation between effort. Ana explains that effort is split in 3 dimensions: physical effort, time and cognitive. Companies are unable to grasp the cognitive load that customers go through which is a “key driver for a bad customer experience.”

She states companies can innovate by looking at one insight: customer effort. Companies like Amazon and Uber already provide this, customers get used to it and when other companies fail at doing the same, customers look for alternatives and become disloyal. Ana concludes by leaving the audience with a final thought “if you want people to do something, if you want to change behavior, make it easy.”

Valentina Candeloro, Marketing Director of Mood Media and Amy Nichols, Research Director at Walnut Unlimited, our final two speakers of the night introduced a recent international study. Working with one of Mood Media’s retail partners, they talked about the impact sensory marketing can have on customer experiences. After collaborating on a study last year looking at attitudes towards sensory marketing around the globe, the next step was to explore the role of sensory marketing within a physical retail environment. The study combined behaviour, cognitive results, sales data and emotional understanding.

Amy detailed how a multi method approach was used in a trial store in Amsterdam, alongside three control stores in Holland. Amy further explained how digital screens, music and scent were placed in the stores during the phase of the study where customers experienced all the added components associated with the senses. The main senses, sight, sound, touch and smell were calculated using Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), a measure of the peripheral nervous system and visual attention using eye-tracking. Combining these two elements helped understand what elements were driving the emotional reactions of the respondents.

Using these measures, they found some interesting and unexpected results. Amy explained how calibrating the equipment established a baseline measure before the shoppers began their in-store experience. By removing sound, they realised they had accidentally created a surreal (but effective?) environment which resulted in respondents being 17% more elevated. The power of silence? Maybe not. Amy proceeded to explain that this physical, human elevation was likely the result of being disturbed or confused by the silence, rather than enjoying it. Testament to the old faithful rules of in-store retail marketing: don’t create something too far removed from what consumers expect from you.

Amy further discussed how shoppers were 28% more emotionally elevated from their baseline when a scent was added to the store environment. During the all sense phase of the study, the purchaser’s awareness also increased when moving screens were activated. Additionally, she described how we were already aware that touch is an important sense during a shopping experience, however, the study provided evidentiary support of just how imperative it is. Results showed shoppers being 50% more emotionally elevated than baseline in this scenario.

With these tangible findings, Valentina informed the audience that customers spent 5 more minutes in store when sensory marketing was applied, and sales increased by 10%. Valentina aptly concluded that it all matters because “when you change the mood, you change the outcome.”

Thank you for joining us and supporting these events it would not be possible without you… until next time…!
If you would like to know more about the Brainy Bar or find out more about how Walnut can help you please contact:

Meet the Author: Chantel Ingarfield
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