Happy New Product Development

After festivities and the respite of public holidays, it’s that time of year when we pause for a breath to refocus, re-energise and rebuild.  In many ways it is a clean sheet – new diaries, new calendars, perhaps some new socks? And of course there’s the formality of new year resolutions that we hope can make us better versions of ourselves, or at least make us temporarily tougher on our perennial feeble-mindedness.

One of the phrases bandied about is “out with the old and in with the new” and while 2016 has generally been given a poor end-of-year report due to celebrity deaths and political uncertainty, should we be so radical in dismissing it, and indeed other things, quite so wholeheartedly?

Behavioural science tells us that we seek and reward familiarity because our prevalent System 1 thinking is a pattern recognition machine.  When you’re introducing something new (a resolution to stop smoking, BREXIT legislation, a new flavour of cheese), the disappearance of any such familiarity creates uncertainty and diminishes the likelihood of buy-in.  This makes some of the traditional metrics used in New Product Development testing rather more questionable, such as combining New and Different into one “New and Different” attribute.  We might say, when asked in a survey, that we want things that are new and different, but the reality is that if it is too different then our System 1 thinking will struggle at point of purchase.  We see this time and time again when testing food ideas.  We may not like to admit it but we are creatures of habit, as those probably-already-smashed new year resolutions demonstrate.

After exploring our data on new product launches we’ve tested, BrainJuicer has introduced the notion of Fluent Innovation.


The core foundation of Fluent Innovation is that it takes more than a good idea to create a great innovation; it’s about making that idea acceptable so that people get (understand) it, and are therefore more likely to get (buy) it. As such, Fluent Innovation is all about combining genuine, surprising novelty with stuff that is already fluent and familiar. It is not about “out with the old and in with the new”, it is about combining novelty with familiarity.  Neither the new nor the familiar is enough in itself.

We believe successful innovation is 20% the new and surprising, 80% the familiar and pleasing. You have to have that core good idea, but so much of what makes the difference between success and failure lies in framing it for acceptance.  How much is pleasing and familiar about a Hard Brexit compared to a Soft one?

Human beings have a gut liking for the familiar. A lot of people who want to innovate push against that – work to find a disruptive, highly original idea and present it as radical. But as is always the way, you get much better results by working with the grain of System 1 thinking. Take that same game-changing idea and find what makes it familiar, and you’re on the path to Fluent Innovation.

The nutribullet craze – it’s a glorified blender, The ION AIR LP: It’s a record player with Bluetooth, the newly-announced Sony NW-A35  – it’s a Walkman with a beefed-up spec.  And how might Christians ever get pagans take up Christmas: by tying it in with their existing pagan solstice festivals, complete with their penchant for decorating trees.

Happy January, and Happy New Product Development.

A Brand For All Seasons: Fluency and Versatility

Brands can fit into many different contexts. A bottle of wine can be a gift, an accompaniment to a home-cooked meal, a romantic shared experience, or just a way to relax after a hard day in the office. How do people decide which brand to pick for which purpose? A vast amount of segmentation work is done trying to figure questions like this out.

drinking wine

But could it all be much simpler? New work by academics Davide Giacolone and Sara Jaeger, presented at the Sense Asia conference in Shanghai, suggests it might be. Giacolone and Jaeger were investigating versatility in food and drink – the chances of a given foodstuff being seen as right for a variety of different contexts. They looked at fruit, chocolate bars – and wine. They showed participants a number of common wines with basic details given – the year, the grape, and the country of origin. They then asked which of the bottles they recognised, and whether specific wines would be appropriate for specific occasions.

What they found was simple and intuitive, but it has big implications. Continue reading

Pokémon Go: The Triumph Of Fluent Innovation

Pokémon Go is the game that caught the world. With downloads in the tens of millions and active user rates overtaking Tinder and Twitter in the US, it’s a game that’s become a cultural phenomenon in less than a week and sent franchise owner Nintendo’s share price soaring. The appeal seems obvious. For kids, the catch-em-all, collect-em-all appeal of Pokémon is evergreen. For parents, it’s a way to bond with kids and get them out of the house. And for that massive slice of the game’s audience in between who were there for the first Pokémon craze in the late 90s, it’s a childhood dream come true.

PG Squirtle

It’s also a brilliant example of Fluent Innovation, the kind of innovation we’ve been talking about a lot at BrainJuicer lately.

PG Drowzee

Fluent Innovation is all about combining genuine, surprising novelty with stuff that is already fluent and familiar. “20% exciting surprise, 80% delightfully familiar” – as we put it in our previous post about it. That combination of the instantly familiar and the marvellously new is what made Moka coffee machines sell, what helps scientific papers get cited… and now it’s what’s broken augmented reality games – where the game interface overlaps with the real world via your device – through to the mainstream in one remarkable swoop.

PG Zubat

Pokémon Go maker Niantic previously made another augmented reality game, Ingress, which worked in very similar ways to Pokémon Go (Ingress’ maps of key locations overlap heavily with the new game’s Gyms and Pokestops). It was a big cult success, but on nowhere near the mainstream scale of Pokémon Go. Some gaming commentators have sighed over the fact that the genuinely innovative, smooth-running and feature-rich Ingress only achieved a tiny percentage of the success Pokémon Go has. The difference, obviously, is Pokémon: add a strong franchise to new technology and you have a success on your hands.

PG Squirtle 2

The reason why this technique works so well is Fluent Innovation. The barriers to an unfamiliar behaviour – interacting with the world via augmented reaity – are lowered by the addition of familiar unique assets – Pikachu and his chums. There are a lot more useful things you can do with the new behaviour than catch Pokémon – but without that shot of fluency they just feel weird. Just look at Google Glass, which sought to bring augmented reality to the masses and ended up an ambitious white elephant as far as wider consumers were concerned.

PG Taurus

But it’s not just a case of add a branded character and sell more. At the height of the Pokémon craze, you could buy Pokémon toothbrushes, watches and duvet covers. I’m sure they sold fine, but they didn’t dramatically expand teeth-brushing or time-telling overnight. They didn’t have any real innovation in the mix. For Fluent Innovation, neither the new or the familiar is enough by itself.

(With thanks to the trainers in our London, Shoreham, New York and Miami offices for the images used in this post!)

Behavioral Science: Broadway flop or long-lasting marketing hit?

Alex Hunt, President, the Americas at BrainJuicer, reflects on the IIEX Behavioral Marketing Forum in New York City – and explains the industry’s need to continue to adopt behavioral science as fundamental to modern marketing.

Last Monday BrainJuicer had the honor of chairing the IIEX Behavioral Marketing Forum in New York City. The day-long forum was held at the New World Studios, currently home to one of the longest running shows on and off Broadway: Avenue Q. In terms of drama and excitement, the forum surely left its 250 plus delegates no less energized than the musical itself.

avenue q

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Branding: A Shift In Perspective

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the annual Polish Market Research Congress, to talk about branding and behavioural sciences. The organisers were friendly and incredibly helpful, even providing me with a simultaneous translation device: I felt like a UN delegate! Through it, I learned that the issues affecting Polish marketers are universal – what to do about new data sources, new media channels, new competitors, and the ever-changing relationship between brand owners and research buyers?


By devoting a session to behavioural science, the Congress acknowledged that shifting perspectives on branding aren’t all to do with screens, devices or generations. Understanding what happens in the mind of a decision-maker can be just as revolutionary. And since I was presenting in Poland, there was an obvious comparison to make: Copernicus. Continue reading

Fame, Feeling And Fluency – The Only Brand Metrics You Will Ever Need

Orlando Wood, MD, BrainJuicer Labs, takes a look into our new BrainJuicer Brand Tracking model – and explains why we developed it.

There has been a growing awareness in the marketing community that traditional Brand Tracking doesn’t really help much to guide and predict brand growth, and there is desire to see it reinvented from the bottom-up. Why not start with Behavioural Sciences as a guide, because the great thing about science is that it simplifies and clarifies things? And if there’s one area of consumer research that needs cleaning up, it’s brand tracking.

tesco extra

What the Behavioural Sciences tell us is that we humans are fast and frugal in our decision-making. The truth is that people think much less about brands than we, as an industry, previously believed. People don’t evaluate options carefully, but instead rely on mental shortcuts – rules of thumb – to help them decide between options quickly and effortlessly.

There are three key mental shortcuts that help people decide between brands. We call them Fame, Feeling and Fluency. To our fast-thinking, System 1 minds:

  • If a brand comes readily to mind, it’s a good choice (Fame).
  • If a brand feels good, it’s a good choice (Feeling).
  • If a brand is recognisable, it’s a good choice (Fluency).

These rules of thumb are what behavioural scientists call the ‘availability heuristic, the ‘affect heuristic’ and the ‘processing fluency heuristic’. Continue reading

Hound Dogs and Copy Cats

A review of Copy Copy Copy, by Mark Earls

On the way home last month from the IIEX conference in Atlanta – the last time I saw Mark Earls, as it happens – I was sat a few seats along from a well-preserved man with a perfectly-formed quiff, wearing a tight white Fred Perry shirt. He could make it as an Elvis impersonator, I thought. As we settled into our seats, he got out a sheaf of papers from a briefcase, and began to look through them. I was curious and glanced over. They were the lyrics to “Love Me Tender” and “Suspicious Minds”. He spent the flight earnestly watching Elvis videos on his laptop, looking at moves to copy.


There’s a lot of Elvis in Copy Copy Copy, Mark Earls’ new book. Mark’s been a pal of BrainJuicer since the early days, and since we’re cited in the book – as an example of what to do, luckily! – you shouldn’t consider this post a book review. We simply can’t be that objective.

So consider this more of a Book Notice. Mark Earls has a new book out. It’s illustrated by John Willshire, of Smithery, whose maxim, “Make things people want, don’t make people want things”, has been subject to its own share of copy-copy-copying in recent years. This book is a thing. People should want it.

It’s about copying (obviously). Earls takes aim at the cult of originality, the idea that the best ideas and solutions are blindingly novel. It’s something we’re prone to in research, when you think about it. The notion, for instance, that the best insight is something nobody has ever thought of before – rather than something that might be less original, but more useful to the problem at hand. Or the idea that brands have to have a unique selling proposition – when a universal human truth would do better at winning buyers over.

Continue reading

The Juice on Innovation

We are extremely proud to announce that – for the fourth time in a row – we’ve come top of the GRIT Survey’s “Most Innovative Supplier” poll. By a considerable distance, and however you cut the data, BrainJuicer have again been voted research’s most innovative company.


This is, obviously, amazing, and we’d like to thank everyone who voted for us in the survey, and the clients who give us the freedom to do interesting and new work and who make it worthwhile. The GRIT Survey matters more to us than most awards or pieces of acclaim for two big reasons.

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Sex, Lies, And The Ballot Box

Sex, Lies And The Ballot Box (Biteback Publishing, edited by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford)

There’s a saying in market research – if something’s interesting, it’s wrong. Sex, Lies And The Ballot Box, a collection of short essays on polling and electoral science published in the run-up to the 2015 UK election, goes some way to prove it. It’s impeccably sourced, written by experts, and packed with relevant data. In other words, it’s hardly ever wrong, and very useful. But a lot of the time it’s not quite as interesting as you’d like it to be, either.

The last few decades have seen plenty of attacks on “homo economicus” – the rational, considered, decision-maker – as the baseline for theories of economic (and consumer) choice. His cousin, homo politicus, has not had an easy ride of it either. We’ve known for decades that image and emotion matter a lot in politics – for instance, that the same policies will be rated well or badly on purely partisan grounds. In Cowley and Ford’s book, there’s an entertaining example showing that former Downing Street Cat, Humphrey, became far less adorable to Labour voters when described as “Thatcher’s Cat” and to Tories when called “Blair’s cat”. The associating machine of System 1 is more powerful than mere cuteness. Continue reading

Emotion: The ‘Go’ Signal for Car-Buying Decisions

Today’s blog post is by Chris Jones, Head of Juice Generation. 

Historically, our industry has assumed that to influence behaviour, you need to communicate a message to persuade people of a product’s superiority, and that if you do, people will make a logical decision in its favour. But the knowledge from Behavioural Science is showing us that when we’re confronted with a decision, we don’t ask ourselves a difficult question, ‘what do I think about this?’, but instead ask ourselves an easier question, ‘what do I feel about this?’.


And this pertains as much to the automotive sector as it does to any other area of our lives, and the following few paragraphs will, I hope, illuminate this with some real examples.

Continue reading