Business of the brain: Seminar shows consumer decisions are based on unconscious habit
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
October 13, 2011 12:28 AM | 2634 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Neale Martin, professor of Innovation Management at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University, speaks to seminar participants about the role of the unconscious mind in consumer behavior and how to develop new marketing strategies based on it Wednesday morning.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
Dr. Neale Martin, professor of Innovation Management at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University, speaks to seminar participants about the role of the unconscious mind in consumer behavior and how to develop new marketing strategies based on it Wednesday morning.
Staff/Laura Moon
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KENNESAW — Consumers’ purchasing decisions are based more on their habits than rationalized decision-making, said Dr. Neale Martin, professor of innovation management at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business.

“There is a huge disconnect between what people say they are going to do and what they will actually do,” Martin told about 40 marketing and advertising executives and KSU professors Monday morning.

Martin, who is also senior partner of Marietta’s Sublime Behavior Marketing, hosted a daylong seminar based on his book, “Habit: The 95 Percent of Behavior Marketers Ignore.”

Martin’s theory is that the unconscious mind — the mind we use when we drive home or talk on the phone while filling up our gas tanks — controls up to 95 percent of all consumer behaviors.

“Think about it this way: When you go into a standard grocery store, there are 75,000 products. On a weekly shopping trip, on average, a consumer will buy 31 things and take 25 minutes to do it. You’ve just gone through a 100,000-square-foot building, and picked out 31 products in 25 minutes. Do you think you did it by closely reading all of the 75,000 product labels? No. When you’re going through that process, the only way you can do it with efficiency is to do it unconsciously,” Martin said.

Martin said innovators need to work hard to become the habitual choice of their customers so the customers automatically choose their products or services — even when a new and potentially better one enters the market.

“When you show people a new product you’ve developed and spend time with them talking about it, they’re consciously attending to it, and if they are convinced it is a superior product than what they’ve used before, 85 percent will say they would buy it,” Martin said. “But we’ve found that only 3 percent have actually turned around and bought the product. The disconnect is, when I’m in the store, I’m not thinking about it. I’m buying what I’ve bought the last five times.”

Tony Ezell, vice president for global market research at Eli Lilly and Company, said he and his pharmaceutical company have used Martin’s methodologies to market new products for the past two years, including one of the company’s most successful drugs: the topical testosterone drug Axiron.

“It isn’t different or novel from other testosterone drugs, but our delivery is innovative,” Ezell said. “The drug is the only drug in the market with an applicator that rolls under the arm. Most are patches or gels. So with the gels, you have to wake up, slather on this icky lotion and rub it all over your shoulders or stomach and wait for it to dry and it stays sticky. Then you have to put your T-shirt on and you can’t touch anyone. It works, but that’s just not normal, especially for males. But putting something on your underarms is within your routine. You do it everyday anyway. It is something that blows our scientists’ minds. For our scientists, it was just too simple.”

Ezell said his company has also found that many physicians will act with the unconscious when making decisions, such as prescribing medications they are used to, even if they understand that a new drug is better and safer.

Three of Monday’s attendees were from Kennesaw-based company EYStudios. The company’s president and creative director, Eric Yonge, said the company focuses on brand development and selling products online, and he brought Marketing Consultant Breanna Johnson and Productions Manager Jessica Castillo with him to learn about Martin’s methodologies.

“Everything they’re talking about really ties into what we do,” Yonge said. “We market to our customers, but then in turn, they market to theirs. We put a lot of emphasis on cues, but after hearing all of this, I’m really going to rethink our strategies to include decisions made by the unconscious mind rather than just the conscious mind. … It’s really fascinating.”
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