Last month, neuromarketing -- the use of technologies like electroencephalogram (EEG) brainwave analysis to measure consumer response to marketing campaigns and products -- successfully passed its most public test. New Scientist magazine hired Neuro Focus, the dominant neuromarketing firm, to select the most appealing cover design for its August issue. The results were palpable: "This issue of the magazine achieved strong U.K. newsstand sales, making it the second highest selling issue of the year, which is very unusual for the normally quiet month of August," deputy editor Graham Lawton told London's PRNewswire. "This represents a 12 percent increase over the same issue in the previous year and is much higher than we would expect for a similar cover story at that time of year, so we would certainly say the experiment was a big success."
The triumph of the New Scientist experiment was well-timed: Neuro Focus CEO Dr. A. K. Pradeep's book, "The Buying Brain", was published in August 2010 -- the same month as the cover's debut. In it, Pradeep tackles the much-discussed "mommy" market, which some say controls up to 85 percent of household buying power. This powerful demographic is extremely vocal about what they like and -- as evidenced by campaigns like Motrin's ill-fated baby sling campaign -- what they don't. Finally, this group is one of the least forgiving: "They are living out their ancient imperative to stand between their children and a dangerous world. Very few do-overs are available when marketing to moms," Pradeep points out in the first few pages of his chapter, "The Mommy Brain is Buying."
Let's take a look at some of the advice in "The Buying Brain", and a few real-life examples.
Mom fact 1: Because motherhood improves a woman's ability to figure out what someone else is thinking, never try to "pull the wool" over the eyes of moms.
Samsung made the mistake of assuming that "pinkwashing" laptops -- offering laptops with pink exteriors -- would make their product more appealing to women. Dell took the extra, misguided step of offering an accompanying website, dubbed Della, which was laden with "Tech Tips" such as, "Track your exercise and food intake at free online sites like Fitday" and "Find recipes online." While this campaign was aimed at women in general -- not just at moms -- it makes some of the classic missteps Pradeep's tips caution marketers against.
Dell's first mistake is to assume that moms are not computer savvy. One journalist at Laptop Magazine put it best: "If a website were to be designed by a PC manufacturer to market its laptops...to men...Would the tips section be full of pointers on how to stream porn? Or how to check sports scores more efficiently on a shrunken screen? Doubtful, because men already know how to use a laptop, right? It also would perpetuate a stereotype that all men partake in those activities at their computers." Mothers, whose internet presence is so little in doubt that some are worried about addiction, clearly know their way around a computer.
Finally, the company seemed to be sending the message that all it took to be relatable to women and moms alike was a pink color and some cooking recipes and diet tips. All of this was transparent to women in general, and particularly to mothers with their additional neurological tools.
Mom fact 2: The "mommy brain" functions with greatly enhanced emotional intelligence --especially the feeling of empathy. Show faces she can identify with, as well as relatable adults who have similar concerns and lifestyles.
Procter & Gamble seems to have taken a page from Pradeep's book with its latest campaign for the Bounce Dryer Bar. The effort is a combination of online videos and serialized print advertorials, both which will run in Better Homes magazine and on its web-based TV channel "Better." The stars of the campaign are Holly Resnick and Marni Renison, who are known from their video segment "It Moms."
In the videos, Resnick and Renison explain how the product can make moms' lives easier. Mothers -- who, Pradeep notes, rack up an average of 700 hours of sleep deprivation in the first year of motherhood alone -- are invested in finding time-saving solutions Employing the hosts of a television show dedicated to enjoying motherhood to tout a product as a time saver is a smart move by the home-goods behemoth.