Are you up for a challenge?
If you want a five-minute read about brands then The Mental World of Brands by Giep Franzen and Margot Bouwman is not the book for you! But if you are curious about human beings and the way they think, feel and behave and if you are serious about making a difference to the way brands operate in the real world, then this is a must buy.
Their book is a thorough guide through the difficult terrain of neuro-psychology and how the brain works.
There are many different methods and techniques for brand research a fact that perplexes clients and leads to arrogance among researchers. This is because research suppliers need to compete in a crowded supplier market by inventing different products and services but also because there are very different models of marketing thinking that drive the development of very different research approaches.
From a qualitative point of view The Mental World of Brands is good news. It supports much of what we intuitively know about the way people and brands dance together for fleeting moments in the day to day reality of life.
Take five neuroscientific facts:
<li>Thoughts are never separate from emotions and emotions never separate from thoughts. They are inextricably linked, but it is emotional coding rather than reasoned argument that determines whether or not we take notice of brands.<li>Most of the brand information we have absorbed and stored in our brains is inaccessible, not even available to introspection. What is available to consciousness through direct or projective questions is only the tip of the iceberg.<li>Recall is like a search engine. It is only as effective as the cue given. Different research methods provide different accessing cues that stimulate different parts of the brand associative network. There is no single truth about brands.<li>We do not think in language. We think in 'mentalese' a combination of sensory and symbolic codes. Language is limited but as it is the only tool that human beings have to communicate, we have to learn to understand the deeper structures of communication.<li>Research activates brand associations that may not be dominant or influencing in real life. The way in which people interact with brands in a research situation bears no relationship to measures of behaviour in real life.
These are sobering thoughts. They present great challenges to qualitative practitioners and buyers. Read it!
<a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1841160814/associationfo-21">Buy this book online at Amazon</a>
Director, Acacia Avenue
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, July 2001
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2001