Thursday, May 17, 2007

Getting inside customer’s brains

A company called Lucid Systems has developed a new technique that uses neurological and physiological disciplines to test emotional reaction to marketing messages. The technique, called Prism, measures pupil dilation, eye movement, galvanic skin response, brainwaves and micro-muscle movement. Is the word of respondents no longer enough to find out what they are thinking then?

There has been a rise in agencies using neuroscience to solve marketing problems over recent years. It appears that for many, measuring non-verbal reactions towards their brand, products and services has become a lot more important.

CEO of Lucid, Steve Genco perhaps goes some way to explaining why: “People tell you what they think you want to hear, which is very prevalent in focus groups and online research.” Prism can however detect whether what they say is actually what they feel.

Gives a whole new meaning to giving your thoughts to researchers. But is it a step too far? It seems to me a little too intrusive. Moreover, as with much qualitative research, just because one person thinks something does not mean everyone will. And, to quantify findings you will have to revert back to traditional methods which would surely defeat the purpose, as you would have to rely on respondents’ word once again. It do find it an intriguing technique though, it will be interesting to see if it becomes more widely used as time goes on and, more widely available.

However, maybe even using a placebo and just making respondents think that you were measuring their reactions would lead to more honest answers?



At 7:07 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for your post on Lucid Systems. You're absolutely right that its the quest for the nonverbal that is driving advertisers to explore techniques like ours.

I wanted to comment on a couple of the points you raise.

First, concerns about intrusiveness tend to go away when people understand exactly what we do. It's just like being asked for your verbal opinion on an ad or product, but we capture your response in a more automated way. Participants are fully briefed on what we're doing and how we will use the data we collect. People find it much more fun than intrusive. Everybody seems to love seeing their brain in action.

Second, what's really exciting about our techniques is that they do provide quantitative measures in areas that have traditionally only been qualitative. Every person has a unique brain "idle state". What Lucid measures is how this idle state gets perturbed when your brain interacts with different stimuli like ads and brands. For each person, we can standardize their change from baseline in various dimensions, then we can add up responses and get aggregate measures across our full sample. So we can get reliable, comparable quantititative results without reverting to verbal responses.

If you or any of your readers would like to learn more about what we do, please take a look at our website at

Steve Genco, CEO
Lucid Systems, Inc.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Lisa Breslin said...

Thanks Steve, I find the whole area quite fascinating, especially as I studied psychology throughout University. I'll give the website a look.


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