In the health and wellness space, many brands enjoy the luxury of having a passionate and loyal consumer base--it’s the nature of a category that fosters strong emotions around being good to one’s body, providing organic products for our family and our home and taking care of our planet. This luxury affords those brands the ability to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their most passionate followers to garner insights, yet those conversations brands tend to have are not productive in capturing the true drivers of behavior and affinity. That’s because most marketers don’t realize that we humans don’t consciously know why we behave like we do—so asking customers won’t
net the right answers.
For many years brand marketers have tried every which way to uncover actionable insights on why consumers like certain brands and which factors determine why they choose to buy. The digital era has opened the door to so many means for capturing those insights, but the fact remains that most of us are failing to get at meaningful insights because we’re not recognizing the most critical aspect in understanding human behavior.
There’s a fantastic book called Unconscious Branding by Douglas Van Praet that explains in-depth how the brain functions and how the unconscious brain, in particular, drives most of the functioning as it relates to those actions we marketers try to affect. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to improve their marketing efforts, and much of the book’s intel serves as the basis for how we go about creating brand empathy with audiences. A brand that conveys empathy toward its audience will have far greater success creating meaningful engagement and garnering long-term affinity.It’s scientific fact the human brain processes most of the information it receives in their unconscious mind. More than 90 percent, in fact. The unconscious mind is like a super computer that instantly calls on vast amounts of sensorial data to quickly produce a behavior, emotion or decision that it sends to the conscious brain to execute. The conscious brain has no idea what informed that behavior, emotion or decision--it simply follows orders given from the unconscious brain. Yet it’s the conscious brain where marketers spend all of their time looking for answers. When we poll consumers on ‘Why do you chose brand X over brand Y?’ we’re asking the wrong question of the wrong part of the brain. Their decision to choose brand X was made by their unconscious mind, so we need to use techniques that focus on mapping behaviors and understanding what’s driving them.
Our firm, Connelly Partners, uses a variety of methods to understand and identify the factors that inform the unconscious brain. The name of the game for all of those methods is that NONE involve asking direct questions about feelings, attitudes or behaviors. We avoid asking direct ‘why’ questions and instead focus on real behaviors--because behaviors don’t lie. When you spend more time observing and dissecting behaviors, you’ll uncover useful insights that inform your marketing strategies. And some of these proven techniques are things you can do on your own, without hiring an audience research company.