Implicit Research Takes Center Stage at IIeX EU 2015

Christina Luppi
Sr. Manager of Marketing

Day two of the Insight Innovation Exchange in Europe (#IIeXEU15) delivered several presentations related to implicit research methods–emphasizing the need to combine System 1 and System 2 insights–on the main stage of Amsterdam’s Beurs van Berlage (in the ground track).

In its second straight year in Amsterdam, IIeX EU 2015 did not disappoint as many sessions continued the idea from day one that the market research and insights space is evolving rapidly to include more emphasis on System 1 implicit insights.

The role of technology and client demands influencing accuracy, cost and speed of market research was also a continuing theme, as we have seen across the industry in the past few years.

Cristina de Balanzo’s session in the afternoon was easily one of the two-day conference’s most well-received presentations. “Building Brands for the Subconscious: 12 Takeaways for Corporate Communications: Human Insights into Action,” included style, substantive insight, and actionable data that insights professionals lauded on Twitter and in conversations afterward.

De Balanzó enlightened attendees by sharing a polished presentation on 12 human insights from the deep cross-category experience of her consumer neuroscience consultancy Walnut Unlimited.

De Balanzó, “main nut” at Walnut, listed those insights along with actual case study data to support the insights, as well as actions research professionals could take. The illustrations included video and images of eye-tracking heat maps coupled with simultaneous measurement of EEG in response to advertisements. She listed the dozen human insights as:

    1. Every brand needs a story
    2. Faces derive emotional relevance
    3. People are attracted to negative news
    4. Our brains want evidence of a product’s superiority
    5. Humans are wired to respond to music
    6. Emotions are universal but feelings are not (different cultures vary)
    7. Food drives response
    8. Visual cues are important
    9. Humor elicits response
    10. Gender differences must be considered and mapped
    11. Memory triggers should be considered
    12. Brands can have implicit value


In explaining the importance of storytelling, de Balanzó said brands need stories that activate “mirror neurons” or empathy, in order for consumers to feel what the brand wants them to feel. Likewise, she said Walnut’s work has shown that music can have a big effect on nonconscious emotional experience.

“Choose carefully before you make a big investment in this,” she said in reference to the importance of choosing the right musical match for your communications.

Continuing the emphasis on implicit research, LRW’s Dr. Jeremy Sack also presented a well-received, concise session in the afternoon. “Identity Overlap: The Ideal Brand Relationship,” explored the powerful connection consumers make with brands when that brand becomes a part of a consumer’s identity, and why this relationship or “identity overlap” is the ideal that marketers should strive for.

Brands act as active lenses that drive perceptions, emotions and actions toward other people, Dr. Sack said, and insights professionals should understand this relationship in order to measure, track, drive and activate identity overlap.

Using the personal relationships of couples as an example, Dr. Sack explained that identity overlap comes when there are clear similarities, interdependence, reciprocity, and core needs being met (such as success, stability, belonging). Professional sports teams are another strong example of brand and personal identity overlap, he said.

Once a brand is in a consumer’s identity, she’ll use the brand more, spend more to get it, promote it, be loyal, ignore bad publicity, and follow that brand to category extensions, Dr. Sack said.

Earlier in the day, Kristin Hickey, founder and CEO of Ruby Cha Cha, shared another approach to tapping into implicit consumer insights in her session, “The Yoda Contradiction: why future ideas demand new idea expression and testing approaches.”

Taking the stage dressed in a Yoda mask and outfit, Hickey woke up the IIeX EU crowd at 10 a.m. to explain better approaches to conduct new product forecasts. In her session, Hickey explored where traditional innovation and insight processes under-deliver in getting at breakthrough or long-term innovations.

Hickey explained that consumers taking part in market research are increasingly honest and critical and not afraid to say things such as, “By the way honey, your ass does look fat in that.” It was one of several one-liners that drew laughter.

One approach Hickey takes in getting research participants to suspend reality and think more openly about future product development is to have them watch a full science fiction movie such as Star Wars before taking part in studies. We found this priming approach especially interesting relative to our own work in implicit research.

Hickey referred to the methods as priming which influences participants responses following exposure to the prime. While the prime she is referring could be 2 or more hours long, the same principle is at work within Sentient Prime® implicit research technology. The presence of a prime (for just half a second) has an impact on participants’ subsequent behavior.

Having attended other IIeX events throughout the years, we were very pleased to see the continued quality and quantity of insightful, compelling sessions. Kudos to Lenny Murphy and the rest of the team at Greenbook for pulling off another great event for insights professionals. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next IIeX event in Atlanta in June.

We also invite any IIeX Eu 2015 attendees to ®" href="" target="_blank">test Sentient Prime®, our implicit research technology that allows insights professionals, market researchers and brand managers to set up online implicit studies on their own for foundational brand positioning, brand tracking, communications testing, brand extensions into new products, and package testing.

And congratulations to Dalia Research, for winning the Insight Innovation Competition for its SaaS/B2B software solution that facilitates getting access to insights and opinions globally.

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