Thomas Z. Ramsøy

Once the hype around attention fades, what’s next?

For years, marketers have been fixated on the attention economy – the idea that capturing consumers’ attention is critical to the success of a marketing campaign. But what happens when the hype around attention fades? What’s next?

Enter the 4-power model, developed by Neurons in collaboration with Stanford University, which offers a new way of understanding and influencing consumer behavior.

The 4-power model goes beyond the traditional focus on attention and identifies four distinct powers that can be used to affect consumer choice. These powers are attention, emotional responses, cognitive responses, and memory + action.

All the while neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience is being heavily adopted, these methods suffer from at least two main problems. First, the methods are relatively expensive, time-consuming, and complex to work with and turn around into action. Second, neuromarketing can often be seen as a collection of methods and learnings without a proper framework.

Here, the 4-power model provides more than just a framework. It also allows us to measure, predict, and affect consumer behaviors through several critical steps. As such, the 4-power model is a theoretical framework, an organized measurement toolbox, and a behavioral design toolbox, all in one!

As we already know, attention is making the rounds — but what is going beyond attention deserves just as much attention (pun intended…)!

Attention is the Gatekeeper, Emotion the Influencer

The first power, attention, is crucial as it acts as a gatekeeper for other consumer responses. However, it is only the beginning of the consumer journey. Emotional responses, the second power, play a key role in influencing how consumers feel in response to a marketing message. By understanding and eliciting the desired emotional response, marketers can tailor their campaigns to better resonate with their target audience.

In a recent study, we used EEG to measure subjects’ brain activity while they viewed different products. What we found was remarkable: the emotional response triggered by a product was a better predictor of purchasing behavior than any other factor.

But it wasn’t just that emotional response predicted whether people would buy a product. It also predicted how much they were willing to pay. When subjects experienced a positive emotional response to a product, they were willing to pay significantly more for it than if they had experienced a negative emotional response.

This study is just the beginning of a new frontier in marketing, one that focuses not just on capturing attention but on understanding and eliciting the right emotional responses. By doing so, marketers can create campaigns that not only drive sales but also build strong connections with consumers.

Comprehension is Key, Confusion is Brand Death

The third power, cognitive responses, includes factors such as comprehension and confusion, which can impact how consumers process and respond to a marketing message. By understanding how consumers process information, marketers can create campaigns that are more easily understood and engaging.

In the ever-evolving world of marketing, it has become increasingly evident that capturing and holding a consumer’s attention is no longer enough. One must delve deeper into the intricate workings of the human mind to uncover the key to truly successful marketing: cognitive processing and comprehension. It is here, in the realm of the consumer’s mental processes, that marketers must strive to make their mark, for confusion is the death knell of any brand.

Take, for example, a fascinating study we conducted for two telecommunications giants, Ericsson and Vodafone. What we uncovered in this research was the profound impact a cognitively demanding brand experience could have on brand emotions. Our findings serve as a cautionary tale to marketers who, in their pursuit of innovation, may inadvertently alienate consumers by overwhelming them with complex, confusing messages.

The study began with a simple premise: we exposed participants to various normal tasks, such as finding information on websites or in videos. Unbeknownst to the participant, they could be exposed to medium or high delays on their phone connections, leading to a waiting period where they would have to hold information in their minds for longer than expected, a cognitively demanding task.

What we discovered was striking. As cognitive demands increased, participants’ brand emotions took a sharp turn for the worse. While some may argue that challenging the consumer’s mind can lead to a more profound connection, our study revealed that there is a delicate balance to be struck. When a marketing message becomes too demanding or confusing, it can trigger a cascade of negative emotions, ultimately repelling the very consumers it seeks to engage.

This phenomenon, which I like to call “The Complexity Conundrum,” highlights the importance of cognitive processing and comprehension in marketing. As consumers, we are bombarded with a cacophony of advertising messages on a daily basis, and our minds are in a constant state of triage, determining which messages to process and which to discard. It is here, in this chaotic mental battleground, that marketers must strive to make their message accessible and easily understood.

The lesson from our Ericsson and Vodafone study is clear: marketers must prioritize cognitive processing and comprehension in their campaigns. By crafting messages that are easily digestible and resonate with consumers on a deeper, more intuitive level, brands can cultivate meaningful connections that foster loyalty and trust. After all, the human mind is an enigmatic labyrinth, and only by understanding its inner workings can marketers unlock the true potential of their campaigns.

In the end, the most successful marketers will be those who can strike the delicate balance between engaging consumers’ cognitive processes and avoiding the treacherous pitfalls of confusion. In this ever-shifting landscape, one thing remains certain: the brands that understand and respect the human mind will ultimately emerge victorious.

If it Doesn’t Stick, Forget It

Finally, the fourth power, memory + action, refers to how a marketing message is stored in a consumer’s memory and how it influences their future actions. By understanding the importance of memory in the decision-making process, marketers can create campaigns that have a lasting impact on consumer behavior.

In the intricate dance of consumer psychology and marketing, memory plays a pivotal role in determining the success of an advertising campaign. However, even the most memorable and captivating ads may fall short if they fail to create a lasting and meaningful connection to the brand they represent. After all, what good is an ad that leaves an indelible mark on the viewer’s memory, yet fails to evoke the brand behind it?

Consider the curious case of the now-infamous Evian ad. A viral sensation, this advertisement featured a troupe of adorable, roly-poly babies on roller skates, performing gravity-defying stunts and whimsical dance routines. The ad captivated audiences worldwide and achieved unprecedented levels of ad memory; however, the majority of viewers struggled to recall the brand at the heart of the campaign. Many even misremembered the product category entirely, associating the ad with baby products rather than the bottled water it was intended to promote.

A similar conundrum befell Sony Bravia with their visually arresting ad set in the streets of San Francisco. The advertisement featured thousands of colorful, bouncing balls cascading down the city’s iconic hills, painting a mesmerizing tableau of color and motion. While viewers were undoubtedly entranced by the spectacle, many struggled to connect the ad with the brand behind it. The ad generated considerable liking, yet little to no brand recognition.

These examples underscore the critical importance of ensuring that a memorable ad is also unmistakably connected to the brand it represents. Ads that leave a lasting impression but fail to create a clear association with the brand are akin to a beautifully wrapped gift with no card to identify the sender – the recipient may appreciate the gesture, but the giver remains shrouded in mystery.

What, then, is the secret to forging this vital connection between ad memory and brand recognition? The answer lies in crafting advertisements that not only engage the viewer’s emotions and attention but also deftly weave the brand’s identity into the very fabric of the experience. By intertwining the brand with the ad’s narrative, visuals, or even its soundtrack, marketers can create a seamless, harmonious fusion that cements the brand in the viewer’s memory.

In the dynamic world of marketing, the power of memory cannot be underestimated. By crafting ads that not only captivate audiences but also foster a strong, indelible connection to the brand, marketers can ensure that their campaigns resonate with consumers on a deeper, more meaningful level. As we’ve learned from the tales of Evian and Sony Bravia, it’s not enough to create a memorable ad – the true measure of success lies in the ability to forge an unbreakable bond between ad memory and brand recognition.

The Consumer Microjourney

The 4-Power Model ushers in a new era of marketing, one that delves beyond the superficial and seeks to unravel the intricate “microjourney” of consumers. This journey encompasses the unconscious responses that unfold within the first few fleeting seconds of exposure to a marketing message. By attuning themselves to the subtle nuances of emotional responses, cognitive responses, and memory and action, marketers can wield their influence over consumer behavior in unprecedented ways.

As the once-revered attention economy wanes, it is incumbent upon marketers to recalibrate their focus, turning their gaze to the other powers within the 4-Power Model. This paradigm shift empowers marketers to craft campaigns that not only ensnare the viewer’s attention but also evoke the desired emotional response, foster comprehension, and ultimately, spur positive actions.

In the final analysis, the 4-Power Model presents a holistic approach to understanding and influencing the enigmatic world of consumer behavior. By meticulously measuring, predicting, and harnessing the powers of attention, emotional responses, cognitive responses, and memory and action, marketers can forge campaigns that resonate with consumers on a profound level. Let us, as intrepid marketing pioneers, embrace this brave new frontier and continue our journey of innovation in the captivating realm of consumer psychology.