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Email: conquest@conquestuk.com
Emotion, Metaphor and Brexit
"Avoid politics and religion" is normally good advice when talking to clients or colleagues, but in the fall-out from the EU referendum, I feel impelled to break that rule. Yet, despite a rash of resignations and 3 ongoing leadership contests, it's not the political effect that most interests me; it's actually the impact on our culture and values. Why? Because, ultimately, politics will settle down to some kind of equilibrium, while a shift in the way we see ourselves (and the rest of the world sees us) will have a lasting effect on the way we communicate (the 'discourse', if you like) about race, gender, family, country and, yes, brands.  Click here to read more»

System 1 or System 2? The Answer: Mind Modelling!
Does implicit research predict customer behaviour better than conventional (rational) research? Often it does, but this is probably asking the wrong question. Because brands work at both a System 1 (emotional/implicit) level and a System 2 (rational) level, no brand can be fully explained by emotion alone.  Click here to read more»

Is Self Brand Overlap the Secret of Brand Love?
For some years now, marketers have grappled with the challenge of how to explain 'brand love' - that intangible sense of attachment that makes Coke 'taste better' than Pepsi and may even lead us to overlook a product's shortcomings (think Apple). The 'roots' of brand love have generally been sought in the irrational, in emotions, yet this creates circularity: we love brands that create emotion; emotion creates loved brands, and so on...

Could it be, however, that the explanation lies in the relationship between our self and brands such that loved brands are those that somehow become subsumed in our personality? In other words, is a loved brand one that becomes part of us?.  Click here to read more»

Why Some Ideas Are So Hard to Resist
I recently read The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley, and was struck by the following passage:

'Evolution is far more common and far more influential than most people recognise. It is not confined to genetic systems, but explains the way that virtually all of human culture changes... The ways in which these streams of human culture flow is ... undirected ,emergent and driven by natural selection among competing ideas'.  Click here to read more»

Conquest & eBay win 2014 MRS Innovation in Research Methodology Award
Conquest has won the prestigious MRS Innovation in Research Methodology Award for its ground-breaking work on how to measure implicit response to brands and advertising. Despite growing consensus that the truth (about brand communications) lies submerged, in our implicit mind, there's much uncertainty about how to reach it. Direct questioning fails, because people cannot express attitudes that they don't know they possess, and because it encourages slow, effortful appraisal.  Click here to read more»

Ask a Silly Question: Why the Polls Got it Wrong
Yes, yet another blog about why the opinion polls failed to predict accurately the 2015 UK general election. But before you switch off, let me assure you that I'm not going to talk about 'shy Tories' (is anyone shy in the internet age?), differential turnout figures, or 'late swings' (another convenient myth in my view). Instead I want to focus on an issue that has been a hot topic in the commercial MR world for at least a decade now: Are we asking the right questions?  Click here to read more»

Are marketers just too timid to embrace System1?
Are the traditional tools of market research – surveys with explicit, direct questions –still up to the job of measuring brands in the new era? The explosion of new understanding about how the mind works could not have been foreseen by the founders of market research, back in the 50s, but modern practitioners have less excuse for still using more or less the same approaches. Traditional (System 2) methods still dominate: researchers still ask direct questions (and people still answer them), but any marketer or MR professional with even a smattering of knowledge of recent developments in mind science would surely ask: Is that all there is?  Click here to read more»

System 1 good; System 2 bad? Baah! Baah!
One of the most powerful insights from cognitive science is the System 1/System 2 dichotomy, coined by Stanovich and West as shorthand for two types of thinking - one fast, resource-efficient and automatic (System 1); the other slow, deliberative and effortful (System 2) . Many in marketing and MR now accept that, because consumer decision making is dominated by System 1, many of our buying decisions are fast, flawed and emotional, rather than slow, logical and consistent. So far so good, but I’m worried that a sheep-like acceptance that System 1 is somehow  ‘good’ for marketing, whereas System 2 is  ‘bad’ might lead us  into some ‘woolly’ thinking about how to measure consumer response.  Click here to read more»

Mind Over Matter: Why Brands Transcend Products
Back in the day, market research seemed to have all the answers about brands. Indeed, the scientific apparatus of quantitative research - segmentation, clustering, modelling etc. - seemed so sophisticated compared with its slightly prosaic subject matter: soap, toothpaste, biscuits and the like. Yet now the reverse seems true: brands are so central to our culture and so deeply rooted in our psyche that it is the traditional tools of measurement which seem unequal to the task. Why?  Click here to read more»

Making the Case for Emotion (again)
I recently presented a paper with our client, Heinz, entitled 'Why Heinz knows the Truth is Implicit'. It discussed how we had employed two implicit techniques -based on metaphors and reaction-time - to uncover associations (with a piece of advertising) which conventional explicit techniques could not. The thrust of our argument was that fast, implicit techniques are more likely to uncover the emotional 'truth' about brands and advertising than those that encourage slow effortful (system 2 if you prefer) modes of thinking. Audience response revealed a strong consensus about the importance of emotions in building and sustaining brands... until one questioner popped up with a question I hadn't heard for some years: What is the evidence that emotions drive behaviour?’  Click here to read more»

What has the Implicit Mind ever done for us?
It seems that implicit is the new black - everybody's talking about it, at least in the small but feverish world of advertising research. But is it a new idea and how useful is it anyway? The idea of the implicit mind has been around for quite a while - probably since the 1970s, but received a huge boost in the 1990s with the advent of cognitive neuroscience - particularly through the work of neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio and Joseph Le Doux, with its emphasis on unconscious, emotional response. And more recently, of course, there's been behavioural economics - particularly the work of Daniel Kahneman, who talks about fast effortless and unreflective thinking (System 1) vs. the effortful, reflective and conscious kind (System 2). Kahneman's key point is that whereas System 1 is automatic, System 2 is not.  Click here to read more»

A Voyage Into the Implicit MInd
Increasingly, marketers are coming to recognise the importance of the implicit mind. It’s where the vast majority of our 'thinking' about brands takes place - way below the level of our conscious awareness (explicit mind) - and comprises our emotions as well as all manner of automatic processes and mental shortcuts, such as heuristics. But how to reach it? Should we be looking to the costly and sometimes invasive methods of neuromarketing (particularly fMRI and EEG) or are there other indirect approaches that might yield more meaningful results?  Click here to read more»

Beware the Neuromaniacs!
Have you been to a research conference recently? If you have you may well have heard a pitch along the following lines "More has been learned about the brain in the last 10 years than in the previous thousand. Neuroscience proves that our brains are in control of our behaviour and that asking people questions mislead us about our true nature. That's why we, at XYZ Research Inc., have pioneered BrainZap™ – a unique technique for finding out what your customers think, BEFORE THEY EVEN THINK IT."  Click here to read more»

What is the viagra of virality?
We all know that virality is the advertisers' Holy Grail, as marketers look for new ways to subvert the constraints of the traditional media model - because getting your idea across for nothing is always nice! At its simplest, Virality is about sharing; it's about people sharing (talking about) an idea or object) which then becomes a social object. But what is it that transforms things and ideas into social or viral objects?  Click here to read more»

Why we need to be more emotionally intelligent
How emotionally intelligent is the marketing and MR community? I recently ran a workshop on Why Emotions Matter with a large group of UK clients. One of their tasks was to come up with an elevator speech that would convince a sceptical CEO (say, Lord Sugar of Apprentice fame) of the benefits of researching emotional response to his brand or advertising. Whilst the task was accepted enthusiastically by all, when it came to the crunch no one volunteered to deliver the speech. What became clear was that few felt they had the ammunition to (metaphorically) gun down an aggressive or powerful sceptic. One (not particularly shy) lady even suggested that she wouldn't get in the elevator at all! It seems then that the case for emotion still has yet to be made and won conclusively.

So what arguments might convince a sceptical CEO to become "emotionally intelligent" about his brand?Back in the day, market research seemed to have all the answers about brands. Indeed, the scientific apparatus of quantitative research - segmentation, clustering, modelling etc. - seemed so sophisticated compared with its slightly prosaic subject matter: soap, toothpaste, biscuits and the like. Yet now the reverse seems true: brands are so central to our culture and so deeply rooted in our psyche that it is the traditional tools of measurement which seem unequal to the task. Why?  Click here to read more»

Why unconscious decisions aren't always best
At a recent conference a speaker remarked that the best outcome for your brand is that it is chosen without conscious thought. The more I examine this, the more curious a conclusion it appears. Why is it assumed that unconscious processing is better than the conscious variety? It worries me because it over-simplifies the meaning of 'unconscious'. I might choose something unconsciously purely out of habit (simple heuristic) or I might choose it because it triggers deeply held emotional associations, built over a lifetime of usage, brand communication and reinforcement.   Click here to read more»

Don't think social media, think social ideas
Marketers and advertisers love to talk about synergies, and the essence of most good integrated campaigns has always been a single powerful idea that goes across different media - producing a campaign effect that's more than the sum of its parts. Thus a lot of synergy is about the simple reinforcement of an idea through its presence in many media, building reach and frequency. But great campaigns can do much more than that – particularly if they create a social effect whereby the audience themselves become an additional means (medium) by which the message is spread. What we all hope for is that the idea be received so rapturously by its audience that they share it with connected individuals (via conversations and social media) giving the idea an extra dimension and a social resonance.

Yet recognition of the power of social phenomena can lead advertisers down a blind alley, because creating a great social media campaign is not necessarily the same thing as creating a great social idea.Back in the day, market research seemed to have all the answers about brands. Indeed, the scientific apparatus of quantitative research - segmentation, clustering, modelling etc. - seemed so sophisticated compared with its slightly prosaic subject matter: soap, toothpaste, biscuits and the like. Yet now the reverse seems true: brands are so central to our culture and so deeply rooted in our psyche that it is the traditional tools of measurement which seem unequal to the task. Why?  Click here to read more»

Why Apple transcends buzz
I get really frustrated at seeing buzz talked about purely in terms of mentions, as if it is analagous to media that can be weighed and measured. It reminds me of those neuromarketers who believe they can "reduce" emotional engagement to a few squiggles on an EEG trace. Yes, of course buzz can be measured terms of volumes of tweets/ mentions etc, but this is only part of the story. There's more to buzz than how many times you get mentioned in social media. Why?  Click here to read more»

Why does Facebook resonate more with young people than Twitter?
My company recently published a report* on social media usage amongst 16-24s in the UK. The most exciting finding was the sheer dominance of Facebook in the 16-24 social media space: the data telling a story of Facebook going from strength to strength whilst Bebo, and MySpace head into the social media desert – only 1% of users visiting Murdoch’s site on a daily basis and newcomer Foursquare was barely mentioned.Back in the day, market research seemed to have all the answers about brands. Indeed, the scientific apparatus of quantitative research - segmentation, clustering, modelling etc. - seemed so sophisticated compared with its slightly prosaic subject matter: soap, toothpaste, biscuits and the like. Yet now the reverse seems true: brands are so central to our culture and so deeply rooted in our psyche that it is the traditional tools of measurement which seem unequal to the task. Why?  Click here to read more»

How Objective is Neuromarketing?
The world of marketing and advertising is full of competing theories about how consumers make decisions, process information and so on. Neuroscience has challenged head-on much of the conventional wisdom about how advertising works, yet the debate continues... and continues. So why can't neuroscience (and neuromarketing) help us settle once and for all some of these thorny issues?  Click here to read more»

David Penn's Blog