Reading Van Praet on neuroscience applied to marketing…

Now, this is an interesting reading: Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing by Douglas Van Praet. I am not even half way through the book but I can already share and comment some of the first learnings from it. Hopefully this exercise will also help me to start reasoning on how to apply them to my work.

  • If consumers are making decisions unconsciously, why do we persist in asking them directly through market research why they do what they do?” asks Van Praet. Maybe because such reasoning is so much game changing that many of us who are trained as traditional market researchers feel highly challenged and quite uncomfortable with it. But to hide our head under the sand won’t address such a challenge, would it? So let’s move forward to see if we can learn something more about it…
  • As marketers, we need to go beyond asking why and begin to ask how” suggests the author. I completely agree on that, which to me translate also in a suggestion to move from questioning to observing:as a rule of thumb, it is better to track or observe real behavior rather than opinions” points out Van Praet. Honestly, it is becoming harder and harder to design and propose questionnaires when you learn many of the fallacies they have – here I am of course also thinking to what behavioral economics is teaching traditional market researchers.
  • […] what people say in […] surveys and focus groups usually does not reliably predict how they will behave” claims the author. That’s probably qute right, but that is a way for market researcher to ask “how” decisions are made instead of asking why they are done. Unfortunately, according to neuroscientists humans are not aware of how they decide. By putting that concept into Gerald Zaltman‘s words “as much as 95% of consumers’ thinking occurs in their unconscious minds” (another interesting book sitting in my library and cited by Van Praet).
  • Businesses and brands that succeed are those that generate real value” is in my opinion a key proposition by the author. Why is that? it seems to me (but I could be wrong here) that Van Praet here relates to the ability of our unconscious mind to uncover tricks and fake offerings, rewarding those brands that are genuine and true to us. Something that related to intuition rather than logical thinking and that helps humans to identify scams before they become obvious to the vast majority of people.
  • Think of the human mind as if it were an iceberg. Just the tip is visible, or “conscious,” […] Below the surface is where our intuitive, emotional, and unconscious mind hides. This is the part of our mind that drives almost all of our behavior“. I guess that for those of us who have been working with rational based choice models this finding opens up a Pandora’s  box! It means we are not rational consumers, not even when we think we are. But again, this should be no reason to refuse new science findings but rather a strong stimulus for traditional market researchers to significantly revise the way they operate.

That is it for the time being. I will continue review Van Praet’s book in my next posting. Meanwhile I would very much welcome comments/further insights.

Stay tuned & have a nice weekend :)


Luca Meyer achieves MRA Professional Researcher Certification


The Professional Researcher Certification Board for the Marketing Research Association announced that Luca Meyer achieved the professional designation of Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) by successfully completing all the application, continuing education and examination requirements. Candidates must meet rigorous eligibility requirements to be able to take the examination. Achieving the PRC designation demonstrates a desire to assert the professional standard and commit to career development in the marketing research industry.

Luca Meyer has been working in the field since 1994, holding both domestic and international roles in both final client and market research agencies. Luca is Italian mothertongue and it is fluent in English, with some basic understanding of French and German.

Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) is a powerful tool for individual researchers of all levels of work experience and education. MRA’s goal is to encourage high standards within the profession to raise competency, establish an objective measure of an individual’s knowledge and proficiency and to encourage continued professional development. Additionally, these certification standards are designed to increase consumer understanding of research and foster premiere professional standards in the profession.

PRC is a career-long commitment that shows your peers, your employees and your organization that you have mastered the core PRC principles and that you are dedicated to staying current in your profession.

For more information, visit www.marketingresearch.org/certification or call MRA at 202.800.2545.