The insight community toolbox: ‘feel’ activities

Neuroscientists have found that if the brain’s emotions network is damaged, people would lose their ability not only to laugh or cry, but also to make decisions. Likewise, when making a decision, one does not say ‘What do I think about this’, but rather ‘How do I feel about this’. Clearly, emotions are key drivers of decision making.

This strong impact of emotions on behavior also has implications for marketing research, where ‘feel’ activities should be an integral part of the research mix.


Feel activities: zoom in on indirect and implicit techniques

Based on our expertise, we have defined three types of ‘feel’ activities to uncover consumers’ emotions: (1) projective, (2) indirect and implicit, and (3) direct and explicit techniques. While more direct/ explicit techniques allow to tap into a more layered understanding of emotions, projective and indirect/ implicit techniques are powerful for capturing latent emotions.

Such indirect and implicit techniques allow to capture the implicit, automatic, and more unconscious attitudes or feelings towards a brand or an item. This can be done through time-pressured exercises, where the limited time filters out (over-)rationalization, or by using indirect facial-expressions tracking when participants are exposed to a cue. These types of ‘feel’ activities are very valuable in situations where research participants either can’t express what they really feel (e.g. unconscious behavior such as the impact of an advertisement on emotions) or would rather not do so (e.g. sensitive topics). Implicit activities, moreover, add value to situations where results don’t show much differentiation (e.g., all brands/ ads perform similarly). Adding implicit techniques often introduces a lot more differentiation, making the results more actionable. This is particularly true for categories like long-term insurances, where many people don’t really know or care much about the product or category, and tend to rate things similarly. But it is also valid in the opposite case, when researching brands that are much loved, with people tending to rate them highly on everything. It’s only when you add implicit techniques that the nuances start coming out.


From #BABA to #FOMA for Ster

An application example of indirect techniques is what we did for Ster, which is responsible for advertising on the Dutch public broadcasting channels. The organization wanted to advise their clients on how to move from #BABA (‘Being Annoyed by Advertising’) to #FOMA (‘Fear Of Missing Advertising’) in online advertising. 64 consumers were invited to join an online insight community to share and discuss their online ad experiences. We were especially interested in understanding how strongly emotions surface when watching videos that include ads. We used ‘facial coding’ – an indirect technique which analyzes and records people’s facial expressions when watching a video. This resulted in a ‘timeline of emotions’, visualizing the most emotional vs. least emotional moments in the video, and the impact on the ad. Based on the findings, Ster could develop a checklist for its clients to consider when testing online advertising impact (e.g., ads need to be embedded in natural breaks).

For more on how we applied projective and direct/explicit techniques for other brands, download our bookzine ‘The power is in the mix: think, feel, do and make’.


The Power is in the Mix

The power is in the mix

Human behavior is a complex interplay between actions, cognition and emotions. In this bookzine, we showcase how to choose the right blend of ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘do’ and ‘make’ research activities for the right business challenge.

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