Quantum Considerations and Neuroscience for Brand Response Marketing

Is thinking of Marketing as a quantum mechanical process useful? It is when you are seeking to attribute consumer response to media impressions, and when you’re crafting and testing effective messaging. This white paper explores a few selected topics within this theme under active research, development, and use in marketing and advertising campaigns.

Exactly why someone buys or not, and why they buy one brand over another, will always have some aspect of the mysterious unknown, and therefore marketing will always have a magical component requiring art and inspired creative initiative. Even when directly asked, most people are unaware themselves of all the influences motivating them to buy and value brands. However, there are aspects of marketing that are scientifically measurable and predictable.

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Dr. Stephen Kelley – Quantum Considerations and Neuroscience for Brand Response Marketing

How Neuroscience Can Strengthen Marketing Campaigns In 2019


By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro (YPO Los Angeles)

Original Publication: YPO.Org

Marketing has always relied on tapping into the consumer’s subconscious — how they think, what they do, and why they make certain decisions. The ways of answering these questions, however, have grown more sophisticated over time thanks to advancements in science and technology.

Where marketers used to rely on observation, focus groups and intuition, they now look to insights from data analytics and research to shape their strategies. This shift, combined with the overwhelming amount of content consumers are confronted with in their daily lives, is why neuroscience is becoming more important than ever.

Today, every marketer can amplify any campaign’s strength and impact by using neuroscience to drive engagement.


People today are overexposed to content. They have an overwhelming amount of choices for where to spend their time in terms of media, apps, channels and services. The average American navigates between multiple screens and is active on social media, which means they are surrounded by noise. While all this digital engagement creates marketing opportunities, it also makes it much harder to break through.

Neuroscience, which is all about understanding human behavior and mental function, can help marketers overcome these challenges and create campaigns that stick. The Association of National Advertisers defines consumer neuroscience as the practice of integrating “nonconscious measures to capture responses moment by moment, offering a more complete view of the consumer.” Or in the words of Uma R. Karmarkar, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, “neuroscience can help us understand those hidden elements of the decision process,” such as why people assign value to certain things or what factors influence them and why.

Neuroscience aims to go beyond figuring out what people want or like and dives into the underlying forces that shape consumer decision-making. These deeper insights can lead to more effective campaigns.


Neuroscience has always had relevance for marketers, but its role has grown in importance in today’s saturated media environment. Estimates of how many brand messages the average consumer sees in a day vary wildly, from 4,000 to 10,000. On either side of the spectrum, that’s a lot of messages.

And brands aren’t only competing with each other, but also with all the content (branded or otherwise) people see on social media and share themselves. Add in circumstances, like election season or the holidays, and the competition is fierce. In 2019, marketers have to target consumers and deliver messages in a brief but compelling way that resonates deeply and can help them stand out.

One example of a simple yet powerful neuroscience technique is acoustic encoding. Human brains prefer to take the path of least resistance when processing information. The easier something is for us to grasp, the more readily we believe it and the more tenaciously we’ll hold onto it. Using sounds in ads that rhyme and repeat make them stickier.

Today, every marketer can amplify any campaign’s strength and impact by using neuroscience to drive engagement.
A similar principle is true for images. The developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina has done research that found humans are likely to remember just 10 percent of a piece of written information three days later, whereas including a relevant image boosts that figure to about 65 percent. That’s a huge jump. Visuals can serve as a shortcut and eliminate a step from the recall process, while also reinforcing meaning.


Other neuroscience techniques draw on human behaviors. For instance, people have a “pessimism bias” thanks to evolution. Our ancestors had to be pessimistic because it helped them survive and vestiges of that instinct remain. Marketers can leverage this aspect of neuroscience to promote their brand by emphasizing how a certain product or service can help consumers avoid a bad outcome.

Social validation is another powerful motivator. Research into neuroscience shows that humans have an innate need to fit in with a group and seek the validation of our peers. When making decisions, we are comforted by knowing that others have made a similar decision and were satisfied with the results. This is why testimonials can have such a significant effect. Testimonials are hardly a new technique, but neuroscience reveals exactly how and why testimonials work; that knowledge can empower marketers to use them more strategically.

In 2019, the media landscape is only going to get more crowded and competitive. Brands are going to have to think out of the box and integrate cutting-edge techniques into their campaigns if they want their messages to break through. Neuromarketing has never been a more important tool in campaigns or branding to deeply resonate with customers and create a more personalized experience.

What Marketers Need to Know About Neuromarketing


Author:  Kaya Ismail with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Original Publication: CMSWire 

Date Published: September 25, 2018

NeuromarketingPersonalization is now a fundamental feature of any good customer experience. For instance, 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. In other words, customers expect brands to remember their names and preferences throughout their customer journey. But marketers have found that when it comes to gathering all that data, conventional methods like web forms, interviews, focus groups, and surveys provide insights into consumer preferences, but they’re usually lacking in accuracy.

Due to the complex nature of the human brain, it has been known for consumers to conceal — perhaps subconsciously — their true preferences and opinions. This has proven true in voice of the customer (VOC) campaigns where brands have attempted to gauge consumer happiness and gather feedback, only to find that customers sometimes gave answers that contradicted their actual behavior.

It’s a question of psychology — as well as a question of context. Maybe you’re talking to a relatively happy customer who’s had an awful, tiring day, and is, therefore, less forgiving of your services at that moment. That’s just one way the human mind can work against marketers trying to gather data, which is why neuromarketing is such an interesting prospect.

What is Neuromarketing, And How Does It Work?

Neuromarketing is a marketing technique that utilizes the application of neuroscience to attain a more accurate reading of consumer behavior. Typical neuromarketing activities include direct use of brain imaging, scanning or other brain activity measurement technology to observe a consumer’s response to certain elements of the product, including packaging, advertising, and other marketing elements. “Neuromarketing is a technique used to improve the effectiveness of marketing efforts by studying the psychology of a company’s consumer base. The goal is to better understand your customers and how your marketing will have an effect on them by tracking their brain activity,” said Jonathan Rosenfeld, Account Executive at Boca Raton FL.-based ScribbleLive.

Kellogg Insights reported that the neuromarketing industry is estimated to be worth around $2 billion — which shows that many brands are taking this data collection method seriously.

PepsiCo’s potato chip brand Frito-Lay is one brand that used neuromarketing to test their products, packaging, and commercials. They discovered that the matte beige packaging picturing potatoes and other healthy ingredients didn’t trigger any activity in the brain that associated with feelings of guilt as much as the shiny bags with pictures of the final product. Based on these findings, Frito-Lay promptly switched from the shiny packaging to the matte beige one.

Bob Clary, Director of Marketing at Lafayette, CO.-based DevelopIntelligence, explained how PepsiCo may have carried out their research. According to Clary, human brain activity can be measured by either functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or electroencephalography (EEG). “fMRI uses a magnet to measure the brain’s blood flow, allowing examiners to access the brain’s “pleasure center” and measuring responses to different audio and visual cues. EEG uses electrodes to measure the electrical waves produced by the brain, which allow examiners to track emotions like sadness, excitement, and anger when exposed to different audio and visual cues,” Clary said.

What are the Advantages of Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing focuses on the subconscious mind, which is a lot less bias than the conscious mind, according to Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO at Los Angeles-based Hawthorne. Hawthorne-Castro explained the many advantages that neuromarketing enjoys over traditional customer insight acquisition methods. “Conventional marketing methods like surveys, focus groups and observation all have value, but they do have limitations. Consumers are biased, even when they aren’t trying to be. The subconscious mind processes much more information at a quicker pace than the conscious mind, so appealing to consumers based on neuroscience principals offers the ability for marketers to achieve better results,” she said.

Devin Pickell, Content Marketing Specialist at Chicago-based G2 Crowd, added to Hawthorne-Castro’s point by describing how neuromarketing provides a “perspective that quantifies traditional marketing approaches. It gives concrete information to how we, as humans, process information, rather than through the psychological perspective that marketing originally developed from.”

Rosenfeld added that brands can use neuromarketing when, “deciding on new brand guidelines, packaging, prototyping and their overall messaging strategy in advertising.” He also shared that by using the data gleaned from neuromarketing marketers can, “get more out of their marketing efforts as it will be tailored to the emotions of the audience it is received by.”

What Are The Limitations of Neuromarketing?

Conversely, Rosenfeld noted that, while neuromarketing does have its advantages, the operating costs can get “very high”, especially if you plan on using fMRI to monitor the brain activity of consumers.

Pickell also agreed, “Just like any other research method, neuromarketing can quickly eat up monetary resources because of the need for very specialized equipment and research methods.”

Naturally, as with any other technology, the prices for purchasing, leasing, or operating these technologies will eventually fall, making neuromarketing an accessible strategy for medium and perhaps one day small businesses. But the limitations don’t end there.

In addition to the high costs, Rosenfeld mentioned the difficulties in finding the “right personnel” to carry out these studies as another major limitation. “It is imperative that the staff assigned to this initiative possess both a deep understanding of psychology and the human brain as well as marketing as a discipline.”


The Use Of Neuroscience In Marketing: Mixing Creativity And Science To Boost Campaign Impact

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO

Original Publication: DemandGenReport

Date Published: September 22, 2017

Editor’s Note: This Demanding View is the second of a two-part series of articles from Hawthorne Direct. Part 1 can be viewed here.

Marketers and advertisers have forever been in the business of figuring out what people want, and more importantly, figuring out how to turn the products they are selling products that people want. Traditionally, it’s been more of an art than a science, governed by intuition,creativity and insight into human nature. Those qualities are still a critical part of successful advertising campaigns, but with advances in computing and software, as well as neuroscience and social psychology, brands can add science to the art to create campaigns that have the greatest possible impact.

In the first article in this series, I discussed the Picture Superiority Effect and how it can be used to make consumers remember (and want) a product. In this second installment, I will explore three more neuroscience techniques: pessimism bias, social validation, and acoustic coding.

Pessimism Bias

Fearing and preparing for bad things to happen isn’t just the province of pessimists—It’s an evolutionary behavior, hardwired into us since the beginning of time. Our ancestors’ survival was based on pessimism because it prompted them to protect themselves from predators and avoid the hubris that could lead to their demise.

While our encounters with saber-toothed tigers and predatory dinosaurs are a thing of the past, the potential impact of bad outcomes in our lives still causes us to overestimate the likelihood of these events. We naturally harbor a Pessimism Bias.

Optimism is a less powerful trigger than pessimism. Having something good happen is soothing, even comforting, but having something bad happen packs more emotional weight. The two sentiments can’t coexist in our minds at the same time — literally or practically. Research from David Hecht on the neural basis of optimism and pessimism revealed that these sentiments actually originate in opposite parts of the brain, with pessimism residing on the right and optimism on the left.

Advertisers can use Pessimism Bias to connect with consumers. Take the commercial Hawthorne produced for a credit monitoring company. It underscores the terrible consequences of private consumer information being stolen and going public, as well as the likelihood of it happening. This positioning makes viewers think, “Look how easily that could happen to me. That would be awful.” As concern escalates, so does the motivation and determination not to let a theft happen. This motivates people to find a solution that will protect them.

Social Validation

When it comes to purchasing decisions, we want to fit in. We inherently feel that unwise choices reflect badly on us and could threaten our standing in a group, as well as our own self-esteem. In the desire to be part of and conform to the actions of a group—be it our neighbors or peers at work—we feel comforted by proof that others have made the same decision we are faced with, and are happy with the results.

This means that it’s not enough for a brand to extol its own virtues. We want corroboration. Positive reviews bolster our confidence, provided they come from those we perceive to have a sound judgment (i.e. people like us). When positive testimonials are stacked on top of each other, the effect is magnified. Ads that depict members of a brand’s target demographic sharing how much they like a product and the value it imparts are powerful.

Acoustic Encoding

Our collective brains prefer to take the path of least resistance when processing information. The easier something is for us to grasp, the more readily we believe it and the more tenaciously we’ll hold onto it. The use of Acoustic Encoding (rhyming) is a great way to tap into this natural tendency.

Rhyming has represented a universally acknowledged method to enhance memorization for ages. It makes storing and retrieving information much easier. Think about the “ABC Song.” There’s a good reason why that first line ends with “G” and the second line with “P.” The mnemonic device is so effective that most of us can’t recite the words without breaking into the melody.

For example, Hawthorne recently created a campaign for BLACK+DECKER hand vacuums that used acoustic encoding: “Cereal playing hide and seek; Dust builds up every week. Pebbles piled on the floor; Milk will spill when children pour. Playdates often end in glitter; Why can’t cats clean up their litter? Coffee grinds that hit the ground; The cordless hand vacuum to have around. For fast cleanups, take home a Black + Decker Cordless Hand Vacuum. Portable and affordable.”

The sounds in the ad rhyme and repeat, which makes them stickier. The words capture attention and can easily be stored and recalled. Furthermore, rhyming can also make statements seem more believable. It may seem simple, but rhymes have an impact.

Consumers today are inundated with advertising messages. They see ads on TV, radio, the internet, their mobile devices. Cutting through the noise and making a lasting impression is a major challenge. Leveraging neuroscience techniques to make content stick is an important tool in any advertiser’s arsenal today.


Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne Direct, an award-winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns for over 30-years. Hawthorne has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience. Jessica’s role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response.