Does implicit research predict customer behaviour better than conventional (rational) research? Often it does, but this is probably asking the wrong question. Because brands work at both a System 1 (emotional/implicit) level and a System 2 (rational) level, no brand can be fully explained by emotion alone.

Think of the great work done by Binet and Field (The Long and Short of It, 2013) quantifying the commercial benefits of non- rational advertising (aimed at the implicit/emotional mind) vs. rational advertising, designed to communicate a rational benefit. Each targets a different part of our brain, and both work - but in their own way. Non rational/emotional campaigns aim at System 1 and build brands over time by building positive implicit beliefs and emotional engagement; rational advertising seeks to engage our System 2, persuading us of product benefit and prompting us to buy.

But which is better?

It depends on what you're trying to achieve: rational advertising produces short term uplifts in sales, but little long-term brand benefit, whereas System 1 messaging builds brand share over time and makes the brand more resilient by reducing price elasticity. Both are therefore essential to the health of the brand, and Binet & Field recognise that by recommending that marketing budgets should (ideally) consist of 60% long term, brand building activity and 40% short-term sales focused activity.

In the course of running many tracking studies and ad tests, we've become convinced of two things:

  1. That it is essential to measure emotions and implicit beliefs about brands and ads, because so much of our relationship with brands is in System 1.
  2. That these measures should complement rather than substitute for classic System 2 rational measures, because a significant part of our relationship with brands (particularly in terms of communication) is in System 2.

Understanding System 1 and System 2 in isolation is useful, but really powerful commercial insight comes from bringing everything together to quantify the relative importance of each factor in driving brand growth. That's why Conquest has built a Mind Model that takes all rational, implicit and emotional beliefs about a brand into account and attaches predictive values to each.

The model is highly granular – allowing marketers to pinpoint the specific attributes that drive behaviour.

Mind modelling:

  • Quantifies the specific rational and emotional factors that drive brands both in short and long term
  • Predicts their relative importance, providing the granularity you need to ensure you are focused on the right priorities.
  • Sets priorities for evaluating brand communications in tracking and ad testing

Mind Modelling has been used successfully in categories as diverse as online property search, loyalty schemes and universities and, in each case, the truth of Binet and Field's hypothesis is evident: brands are driven by both rational and emotional factors. But the real value comes from knowing their relative contribution, and from identifying the attributes that marketers can leverage to make their brand stronger – both in the short or long term.

Subscribers can read more on Binet & Field's work here on How to balance long-term and short-term strategies