The future of marketing can be found today in the behavioral science literature. As an industry, it is our job to reveal the whys behind consumer behavior, and the disciplines of Psychology, Neuroscience, Sociology, Behavioral Economics, and Cultural Anthropology, all provide advanced understanding and insights on consumer behavior that have yet to be applied on a large scale. This is why we believe this enduring truth: as long as the behavioral sciences continue to advance human understanding of the fundamental drivers of consumer behavior, the future of marketing will be found in those insights.
In 2012 we expect the industry to see the growth of the following trends:
Behavioral economic choice architecture principles will be leveraged in real market applications. With three years since the publication of Sunstein and Thaler (2008), MR industry leaders have developed Applied Choice Architecture practices, and these divisions are now holding sufficient sway to effect real change in marketing applications. The best MR firms and Insights divisions will take the “list of effects” from behavioral sciences and turn them into a practical paradigm for approaching applied marketing problems. The whats, whens, whys, and hows of behavioral economics will become better understood and more readily applied.
Insights early adopters will apply quantitative measures of emotion on a broad scale. The best MR firms and Insights divisions will tackle the challenge of quantifying the impact of emotion on choice by implementing behavioral science methods from psychology and neuroscience. The rise of quantitative implicit emotion modeling will continue with additional case studies providing evidence of enhanced predictive validity of choice models which include these measures. Neurological and physiological measures of emotional response will become better understood and more discretely applied in situations where they offer distinct insight within large-scale quantitative implicit emotion methodologies.
The shopper decision process will be dissected from pre-shop priming and consideration to activating choice at the point of purchase. Leading MR firms and Insights divisions will push forward to understand how to influence consideration during the pre-shop phase with priming, and how to leverage pre-shop priming to trigger behavior at the point of purchase both online and in-store. Methods for understanding pre-shop primes and point of purchase triggers will include ethnography, projective qualitative techniques, online simulated shops with experimental design, and implicit association testing.
The industry will call for practical guidelines on when to use which advanced research methods. Neuromarketing will begin to feel the heat from early overly aggressive marketing of the promise and industry skepticism will temporarily rise. The leading MR firms will lay out a structure for which methods are best according to the insights needed to answer the business problems to solve. Delineating a research and insights methodological paradigm, according to the business questions to be answered, will be a critical next step for the industry.