It’s a known fact that there are vast differences between how men and women think and process information. Yet some marketing experts believe many companies still can’t get it right when it comes to tailoring marketing to the sexes. Dr. K.A. Pradeep, the CEO of Nielsen NeuroFocus, a Berkeley, California-based neuroscience research company, explains what companies should know about gender differences in the brain.
Dr. A.K. Pradeep of Berkeley's Neurofocus explains why he wrote the book about using neuroscience for marketing. Filmed by AVC with two hi-def cameras and a green screen, the video helps market Dr. Pradeep's book. To learn more about The Buying Brain, visit Neurofocus athttp://www.neurofocus.com/
In a blog post dated October 18, 2011, I profiled NeuroFocus and its newest product: Mynd, the world's first portable, wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) scanner. The skullcap-size device sports dozens of sensors that rest on a subject's head like a crown of thorns. With Mynd, users can capture, amplify, and instantaneously dispatch a subject's brain waves in real time, via Bluetooth, to another device--a remote laptop, say, an iPhone, or that much-beloved iPad.
An attractive female subject is shown wearing NeuroFocus' Mynd portable EEG scanner:
Here's a great video demonstrating NeuroFocus' Mynd, the world's first portable, wireless and wearable EEG scanner:
They found some major innate variances in the neuro make-up of women and men. For example, female brains have a larger prefrontal cortex which has an impact on emotions, and the regulation of emotions, so emotions are a primary way to get through to women. And females tend to be more social, empathetic, and verbal than men.
In the above video titled, "The See-Through Consumer," A.K. Pradeep, the CEO of NeuroFocus, discusses the ways in which neuroscience, technology, and big data have enabled companies to know more about their customers than ever before. The session was moderated by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, China business and finance editor for The Economist, at The Economist's Ideas Economy: Innovation 2012 event in Berkeley, California.
Another big difference is that women have a larger corpus callosum, which is like an eight-lane superhighway connecting the right and left parts of the brain. Female brains distribute their thinking quickly, and can multitask - it comes naturally to them. It’s also significant that the hippocampus is bigger in women, so the level of nuance in emotional details is much greater. A man might remember the day he proposed; whereas a woman can likely tell you everything about that day
Advertisers have heard all the same Venus/Mars clichés and Louis C.K. monologues that consumers have. That said, some marketing experts, including A.K. Pradeep, believe that many companies still can’t tell their estrogen from their testosterone. The CEO of Nielsen NeuroFocus, a Berkeley, Calif.-based neuroscience research company acquired by Nielsen last year, tells Marketing Daily what companies should know about gender differences in the brain.
Q: What’s one of the major misunderstandings that marketers have about the way the brain works?
A: We’re all very keen to segment consumers into various groups, but that misses the fact that Mother Nature has already done a segmentation -- she calls it men and women. Marketing needs to honor that segmentation.
Q: So what are some of the major differences?
A: Female brains have a larger prefrontal cortex. That has an impact on emotions, and the regulation of emotions, and so emotions are a primary way to talk to her. There’s also more intuitive reasoning. The portion of the brain that is responsible for worry is also somewhat larger.
Another big difference is that women have a larger corpus callosum, which is like an eight-lane superhighway connecting the right and left parts of the brain. Female brains distribute their thinking quickly, and can multitask. It comes naturally to them. It’s also significant that the hippocampus is bigger in women, so the level of nuance in emotional details is much greater. A man might remember the day he proposed; a woman can likely tell you everything about that day.
In men, there is a larger parietal lobe, which means they tend to be better at spatial perception. They like images better than reading. And the larger amygdala in men results in more aggression.
Q: How can that inform marketing?
A: Well, it helps to know that women tend to be more social, empathetic, and verbal. She is a multitasker and a big-picture thinker. So for example, we can show men and women an image of someone drinking a beverage, and their brains react about the same. But then if we show someone drinking that beverage, and then touching someone else on the shoulder, the women’s brains tend to really light up. The image of someone drinking something doesn’t create much of a response at all. But when it is shown with a social interaction, it does.
Q: What’s the impact of the emotive difference?
A: We don’t know why, but women have a better-developed suite of emotions. Women smile a lot more than men. Female infants make eye contact many times more than boys. Eye contact is critical in connecting to women. When girls play or do any cooperative activity, they are more than 20 times as likely to take turns as boys -- 20 times!
Q: But women are also very smart shoppers, and very rational.
A: Yes. But they respond better to pitches with a combination of fact and feeling. A low price is a fact. A happy price is one that is low, and also emotive.
Q: So that’s what she likes. What turns her off?
A: Stress. Conflict. We know that cortisol -- the stress hormone -- actually stays in women’s bodies longer than men, so she is conflict-avoidant.
Q: Which companies get it right?
A: I won’t name names. But in general, I see many health and beauty companies getting it right, combining messages for women in a way that is most likely to appeal to them. The worst are CPG companies, which is interesting -- it’s a trillion-dollar space, and women do most of the purchasing.
COMMENTARY: There's no doubt in my mind that men and women think differently, and those differences are very important for brand marketer's to understand when marketing their products to either gender.
The fact that so few brand marketers actually take the time to understand what goes on inside the human brain and how consumers respond when presented with similar product choices is a missed opportunity for them to design their products in such a way as to elicit the most positive reactions to their products.
Neuroscience is still in its infancy, but you can bet that in another 10 years, the adoption of neuroscience in marketing decisions will not only become commonplace, but necessary in designing products, its packaging and even pricing it right.
The Science of Neuromarketing
The new science of neuromarketing explores the dynamics of consumer purchase decisions, customer brand affinity, and customer brand engagement. Neuroscience research is increasingly clear that many of the decisions people make about what products they will buy or what services they will use are a result of intuition and unconscious mental processes rather than analysis or reasoning. Consumers have emotional responses and logical responses to marketing and advertising. And in both types of responses can occur on a conscious basis or an unconscious basis.
Experts at NeuroFocus suggest that approximately 11 million bits of sensory information is processed by the human brain every second. But only 40 bits of sensory information is processed consciously - this is all the conscious mind can handle - and all the rest of the information is processed unconsciously.
Advertising and marketing efforts are part of the universe of sensory information that the brain processes every day in a typical environment in the developed world. Images used in advertising, colors and designs used in packaging, music and fragrances associated with services, and the rich attribute sets of products themselves are all subject to the conscious and unconscious sorting that happens in the marketplace.
Brand Engagement Begins at Birth
American children are exposed to an enormous amount of advertisement. The marketplace is very good at schooling children in brand awareness. According to a research conducted by Nickelodeon, the time children turn about 10 years old, they know about 400 brands. Child psychologists at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, a private college offering masters and doctoral programs in clinical psychology and counseling psychology, say this figure is up from an average of 100 brand logos at the tender age of three. That is an increase of 300 percent in just three short years. As market researchers, we might ask how this level of brand awareness is developed.
Survey research conducted by SIS International Research indicates that people tend to use brands that they have vague memories about which extend back to their childhood. This is true for 53 percent of the adults and 56 percent of the teenagers who were surveyed. The survey data indicates that this most true for household good, beverages, and food - all brands that tend to be passed down from generation to generation. A review of when Proctor and Gamble introduced some of their brands gives a good picture of how this takes place. The age Proctor and Gamble's brands can come as a big surprise to consumers.
About 20 years ago, little children were as familiar with the Joe Camel character on a pack of cigarettes as they were with the cartoon drawing of Mickey Mouse, the Disney character. Most people would agree that children are knowledge sponges and that they soak up much more information than can adequately be measured. Some of the information that children process is subconscious, just as it is for adults. But a good share of brand-related knowledge acquired by children is consciously acquired, tied as it is to social status. In fact, some market research firms that focus on learning about what children think about products and services relevant to their lives.