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News & Views from Alchemis

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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Can researchers read minds?

Do the lengths companies go to research consumer habits today have any limits? It would seem not! Working with a research client for over 3 years I’m fully aware of companies employing neuroscience as a method finding out what makes consumers tick, but this takes the biscuit.

Earlier this year Royal Mail commissioned Millward Brown and Academics at Bangor University to undertake a study to determine if the brain reacts differently to marketing messages delivered through direct mail in comparison to email campaigns. This was based on the assumption that consumers tend to engage more to physical objects that they would to an electronic format.

Participants were shown the same creative format in both digital and print. Following this a measurement of brain activity was taken in the MRI scanner to identify parts of the brain that show increased activity by imaging changes in the blood supply.

The research showed that certain parts of the brain were more active when given a piece of physical direct mail (you don’t say). So in short the research found that actually holding something in your hand is “a significantly more multi-sensory than marketing that appears online”.

The study concluded that “when a piece of DM was held and read by a participant, their reactions suggested that they were experiencing thought patterns similar to those the brain exhibits when processing memories and emotions. Other studies have shown that emotional processing can generate a positive response to brands and their messages, and enhanced levels of engagement. When someone engages with an emotional response through tangible material, it produces an enhanced recognition that can result in increased attention given to the brand in the future.”

This is all very interesting stuff and I agree that holding something in your hand will of course create a stronger response within the brain than looking at the same creative on your computer, but perhaps the next study should look at how we can promote the brain to pick it up and read it instead of chucking it in the bin in the first place?

Now there’s a thought.

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