Mind, Mood, Music, and Marketing by A.K. Pradeep (Great talk!) #CMACX #MRX

Live blogging from the MRIA/CMA #CMACX customer experience conference in Toronto. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

Opening Keynote: Mind, Mood, Music, And Marketing

Dr. A.K. Pradeep
Chairman, Nielsen NeuroFocus


  • He starts with just four slides. [so what has he got up his sleeve?]
  • Worst environment for the human brain is the retail store. Why is it so harsh for the brain? 100 million bits of information rush towards the brain, consciously we can process 40 bits. Brain uses 25% of body’s oxygen and it gets really tired trying to process all this information. The web store is no different.
  • The rule of 3 – 3 image groups and you’re done, too tired. ever been to a website that had only 3 image groups? never.
  • Turn off your preconceived notions of how retail stores ought to be. Forget what marketing school taught you.
  • “The most amazing creature on the planet – me”  [funny dude 🙂 ]
  • Attention – emotion – memory – are measured directly in the brain
  • Brain is programmed to seek novelty – even as we listen to this talk – is this new? is this new? is this new?
  • Any confusing experience will not be liked. Must be understandable.
  • Information – do i have enough information to decide. “category busting metric” – eg megapixels for cameras, for computers it’s gigahertz, nobody knows what it is but we know we need it, for cola it’s zero calories, what is it for YOUR product, if you don’t have one, your brain will create one called “Price.”
  • Interaction – in an apple store, can you play with every product and every piece of software? yes! In Best Buy, most products are locked up, you can’t interact with them. In your product category, is there any interaction you can give your consumer? Interaction is critical especially for female shoppers. Women shop, men buy. Women are experience seekers. Men are transaction seekers. Purchase journey is cliche and boring. [DAMN RIGHT. and it’s wrong.] This journey does not exist.
  • Entertainment – Entertain me in the aisle. Does this audience want to see pictures of brains? We want information but we want to be shamelessly entertained. It’s ok. Am I entertaining the consumer at the point of purchase online. Southwest airlines tells you a joke. Apple Store employees all look like funny geeks. Don’t be wrapped up your boring self. You’re not saving the planet. You’re selling stuff.
  • Education – Brains crave one new fact.  Did you know the brain uses 25% of the brains energy? It is a reward mechanism, dopamine.  Little facts are dopamine squirters.  This is why people share stupid facts all day on social media.
  • Simplicity – This is the most complicated concept. Rule of 3 applies here too. Before, during, after. Past, present, future. Always divide things into threes. 3 types of gatorade, 3 types of skin cleanser. Create subbrands that dovetail and fit in with consumer experience. Images on the left, words on the right. Left visual field is processed by right brain and vice versa. If you don’t put images on the proper side, the brain has to take an extra step and shift it over to the correct side and this takes more brain energy. Babies look at faces 400 times, want to engage with your face. Why do ads show people looking out into the distance? It makes us take an extra step in the brain for processing. Pet food makers put puppies and owners on the food bag. BUT, humans have to touch animals, want to touch the damn dog! This is frustrating for the brain. Female brains read everything, men just look at the pictures. Women use 20 000 words a day, men 7000 words including grunts and groans. [He’s being funny. again. 🙂 ]  Men need visual. Women need words.
  • Satisfaction – “Hand feel”  Homunculus – every part of the body has a part in the brain. Your palms and your lips take up 60% of your brain power. Coke tastest better from a bottle than a can. The shape of the bottle creates sensations in your palms much more than the generic shape of a can. Can I taste a cookie through the package? Can you make my brain fire before I experience your product? [scratch and sniff cookie package!  🙂 ]  Do you peel the label off of bottles? You are creating stimulation for your brain. I.e., if people are peeling packages while you’re talking, you are BORING!  Customer experience is painting a masterpiece. You can’t just paint a gorgeous face, every step counts.
  • Self-Worth – Sales people always say you look amazing when you try on new clothes. We know they’re lying. But we like it. We want it even though it’s not true.  Every time your consumer has an experience with you, how have you made them feel better about themselves? What about when they ask you at the checkout counter by asking “Would you like to donate $1 to save a child”? No, they lowered your self esteem because now you feel horrible about not donating. Payment=Pain. There is brain proof of this. The only things that mitigates this is an act of charity at the point of payment. A coupon that says a donation will be made if you use this, mitigates the pain of payment.  Even if it’s only 10 cents. “Thank you for buying all this beer, we will now donate 10 cents on your behalf.” We miss out on linking acts of charity to create a superlative consumer experience. Including a charitable act in the payment process reduces the pain, boosts self-esteem. Put a mirror at your new products. People will look in it, be happy with themselves, creates halo effect of products around it. If you argue with your significant other, argue in front of the mirror. You can’t be mad in front of a mirror. Put mirrors in your complaint center. Get the best performance review ever by putting a mirror behind you while your boss talks to you. Make people happy by increasing the weight of the package and make it shiny – heavy is more valuable. Put CDs in a big box with a heavy manual. Wear shiny clothes.
  • Community – People want to belong.
  • You can’t pick one of these and expect to get all of them. You can’t do some mediocre. It is not an a la cart menu.
  • We solved a 2000 year old puzzle. What are the precise emotions evoked by music? Specific music by category by brand by time of day in the aisle or by ad creates neurological context.
  • Music is the non-conscious part of the brain 95% of decision making is non-conscious. Medical study – one group chose music to listen to, the other group had no music during the surgery. Recovery rates were higher for those who heard the music. Interesting – both groups of people were anesthetized during the surgery and therefore didn’t hear the music – unknown mechanisms are processing the music during non-conscious periods. This is specialized by culture, geography. We can layout what emotions are elicited second by second.
  • What if consumers hear music in the aisle that elicits the emotion the brand wants? Right now, no one knows how to pick a good song, or the good part of the song.
  • “Call tune” – I’m running late so when I call home to tell them, there’s music in the background to calm them down and keep them from getting angry. How about using the right calming music when people are on hold?
  • [Great speaker! If you need a key-note, look no further!]


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