Monday, February 22, 2010

Campbell's Soup Can's Neuromarketing-Led Redesign.

Via Fastcompany (I love the title of their piece: "Waiter, There's Pseudo-Science in My Soup" Magazine )

The Wall Street Journal reports that Campbell's has just unveiled a rebrand of its canned soups, spurred by two years of "neuromarketing" analysis. The new cans hit supermarkets this fall. Campbell's said traditional customer feedback wasn't telling the company why soup sales weren't doing so hot. "A 2005 Campbell analysis revealed that, overall, ads deemed more effective in surveys had little relation to changes in sales," the WSJ says.

So they turned to "science." Campbell's hired Innerscope Research Inc. to conduct tests on a whopping 40-person sample to see what design elements produced the most "emotional engagement."

The team clipped small video cameras to the testers at eye level and had them later watch tape of themselves shopping for soup. Special vests captured skin-moisture levels, heart rate, depth and pace of breathing, and posture. Sensors tracked eye movements and pupil width.

I would have really liked to watch how the neuromarketing research was translated into actionable recommendations that fed into the design process. In my experience, even processes as seemingly straightforward as usability testing for websites run into problems of interpretation. For instance, you can observe that most visitors to a website click on a narrow number of links when visiting a site and searching for something but it doesn't really tell you "why" they did or directly offer up answers to solutions for design problems. (The last thing any designer wants is a nerd with a clipboard standing over their shoulder directing the design.)

Focus Groups
Something that should have died a long time ago but ignorantly persists is the use of focus groups in advertising and corporate design initiatives.

Several books have come out in recent years with fascinating insights into human decision-making processes. Among them: Jonah Lehrer's "How We Decide" and Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational". In one example from "How We Decide" Jonah Leher describes a study by University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson. He had a group of students taste and rank several brands of Jam. The students were able to rank the jams very much in line with the results of a consumer reports study. A follow-up group of students were asked to fill out a questionnaire and explain their choices. The results were inconsistent and correlated poorly with the consumer reports study. It seems that thinking too much and being forced to rationalize decisions leads people to consider variables that are unimportant and confusing to what one actually experiences and feels.


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