SYDNEY: Neuroscientific research has indicated that cultural upbringing can change how consumers process marketing messages, particularly in television commercials.

In Australia, Dentsu Mitchell Media and Neuro-Insight evaluated a cross-section of iconic Australian television commercials with varying cultural themes to reveal the extent to which the cultural backgrounds of consumers influence the way they respond to marketing messages.

Their study, published exclusively on Warc – Neuroscience & TV Commercials: Cross-Cultural Marketing in Australia – is based on data from eye movement investigations and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

This revealed that East Asian individuals were quicker to attend to background information, whilst Australians demonstrated a strong preference towards attending to the objects within the visual field.

Consumers raised in Asia also responded more to advertising that had a prominent soundtrack, with Chinese viewers having a 16% higher level of engagement with the message from these commercials than Australian viewers.

This finding provides advertisers with additional information to consider when developing new creative, the authors suggest, with the soundtrack being far more central to the narrative rather than 'filler' that takes a backseat role.

Chinese viewers also tended to maintain higher levels of memory encoding during presentation of the price/offer, whereas Australian viewers entered into the "conceptual closure" period much sooner, often just before the price/offer appeared on screen. Chinese responses were 38% higher on average across all commercials during these specific pricing and offer sequences.

Brands in Australia ought to consider cultural presentations in creative storytelling, particularly as the country becomes more multicultural as a result of immigration. The research found that viewers raised in China responded very negatively to Asian stereotyping, and don't really connect with Australian cultural motifs – so ideally brands should test their work early to ensure the messages are relatable to a diverse range of audiences to be successful.

Data sourced from Warc