Millward Brown launches consumer neuroscience in Australia

Pilot study showcases value of neuroscience insights, revealing Gillard won ‘hearts’ while Abbott won ‘minds’ in recent Federal election

Millward Brown, a global leader in brand, media and communications research, has revealed the results of its neuroscience study on the recent Federal election campaign to coincide with the launch of its consumer neuroscience research services in Australia this week.

Using techniques to elicit both explicit and underlying attitudes, Millward Brown undertook a study on voters’ preferred candidate for Prime Minister in the lead-up to polling day.  The research methodology, which is usually used to test branded communications, was chosen to demonstrate the potential of neuroscience to tap into the emotional drivers of behaviour not always revealed through established marketing research techniques. 

Conducted just prior to the election, the research foreshadowed the cliff-hanger election result.  When asked outright, respondents reported a clear preference for Gillard as Prime Minister (59% to Abbott’s 41%), and on a purely emotional ‘gut reaction’ level, as measured by ‘implicit associations’, Gillard was also the clear winner.

However, at an unspoken level, Abbott emerged the winner in the rational indicators of ‘trustworthy’, ‘qualified’ and ‘patriotic’.  Despite liking Gillard more than Abbott, voters had doubts about her credentials that they had not expressed.

The research suggests that if Julia Gillard had taken more time to focus on clearly articulating her qualifications and experience, she may have secured a clear win in the election.

Daren Poole, Millward Brown’s Chief Client Officer for Australia, commented:

“While these results appear quite simplistic in hindsight, during the campaign they could have translated into a valuable advantage for those tasked with communicating each party’s position.  We know that what people say doesn’t always match what they do and consumer neuroscience gives us another incremental insight into how both head and heart drive decision-making.”

In another pilot study, Millward Brown used implicit associations measurement in conjunction with its Link™ advertising test to understand how the award-winning ‘Allen’s Makes Smiles’ TVC turned around Allen’s jellies business.  The ad features a giant walking doll blowing bubbles that turn into jellies.

While respondents could articulate their enjoyment of the ad and the fact that they found it engaging, neuroscience showed they understated their emotional response to the Allen’s brand and its irresistibility.

In Australia for the consumer neuroscience launch, Graham Page, Executive Vice President of Millward Brown’s Neuroscience Practice, commented:

“Neuroscience-based methods can be extremely valuable tools to understand consumer reactions and help explain behaviour, yet for many marketers it’s difficult to navigate all the hype and hyperbole. 

“Over the past six years, Millward Brown has worked with leading academics to review neuroscience techniques and understand what works and what doesn’t.  Today, neuroscience complements our more established research tools and we use robust techniques with a proven track record where they can deliver additional insights to clients,” said Mr Page.

Millward Brown’s neuroscience practice uses three primary techniques: implicit Association Measurement – understanding the associations and emotional response generated by brands and advertising; eye tracking – understanding the focus of visual attention within campaigns; and brainwave measurement (in partnership with US-based EmSense) – understanding the moment-by-moment response to brand communications and experiences.

Neuroscience is particularly effective for marketers dealing with sensitive material or subjects; dealing with abstract or higher order ideas such as brand ‘essence’ or logo design; pinpointing emotional highs and lows in a creative execution; and giving more detail on consumers’ feelings.


About Millward Brown

Millward Brown  is one of the world's leading research agencies and is expert in effective advertising, marketing communications, media and brand equity research.  Through the use of an integrated suite of validated research solutions — both qualitative and quantitative — Millward Brown helps clients build strong brands and services.  Millward Brown has more than 78 offices in 51 countries.  Additional practices include Millward Brown's Global Media Practice (media effectiveness unit), the Neuroscience Practice (using neuroscience to enhance traditional research techniques), Millward Brown Optimor (focused on helping clients maximise the returns on their brand and marketing investments) and Dynamic Logic (the world leader in digital marketing effectiveness). Millward Brown is part of Kantar, WPP's insight division.

Graham Page, Executive Vice President of Millward Brown’s Neuroscience Practice