System1 Politics: Five Things You Need To Know

This week we were proud to launch System1 Politics, a new BrainJuicer project. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s asking the big questions.

System1 Politics is a new specialist unit set up to use BrainJuicer methodologies – like our Brand Tracking, Ad Testing, Predictive Markets, and Storyteller tools – to tackle political questions. Like “who’s going to win the US election?”

It’s following the Presidential race.

At, our microsite, which is currently all about Trump and Clinton and will be for the next 8 weeks, with an update every Tuesday showing their current standings and a fresh selection of no-holds-barred consumer verbatims that might raise even Trump’s hair. Even back in January we were predicting an extremely close race and the current waves of data are bearing that out. Continue reading

5 Questions To Make Your Digital Content Better

On September 26, 2006, the modern era of marketing began. Facebook – already enjoying viral growth among academic institutions – opened its accounts up to the public for the first time.


Facebook in 2006 – opening the door to modern marketing…

A month later, in October, Google bought YouTube, making a powerful statement that the future belonged to video.

These two elements – social media, and online video – remain the fundamental building blocks of online content: the levers of all the change we’ve seen over the ten years since, across every device.

While many commentators talk about that change as the only constant worth considering, we take a different view. At the same time as staggering technological change has transformed marketing, there’s been a new and deeper understanding of the fundamentals of human decision-making – which have not changed for tens of thousands of years.

To communicate with people today, you have to understand both radical change and extreme continuity. You have to use the basic “System 1” shortcuts of human decision-making to get the most out of the myriad of new platforms, tools and features you’re confronted with on a weekly basis.

Later this month, we’ll be launching a new version of our award-winning ad testing methodology, specifically designed to test digital content. A free webinar will lay out its new capabilities and the philosophy behind it.

As a taster, here are the five questions we feel you should be asking about every piece of content you create – online and offline. Continue reading

Off Target

P&G made headlines last week when they announced they would be rebalancing their Facebook advertising spend away from targeted advertising. “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow”, as chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard put it, concluding that Facebook targeting was useful for time-specific advertising (like nappies for new Mums) but ultimately lacked efficiency. P&G’s TV ads, like the 5-Star Thank You Mom, speak to everyone. But its Facebook spend was way too specific.

thank you mom

At BrainJuicer, we’ve made no secret of the fact we aren’t huge fans of heavy targeting as a marketing practice. As a behavioural intervention it makes sense on paper – if you genuinely can guarantee that you can reach someone just as they’re about to make a relevant decision, why not get your brand in front of them? This is what makes Google Adwords such a great product, since search is as good an indicator of relevance and decision imminence as you can find. But targeting based on interests and histories – which is what most digital targeting boils down to – does not meet that criteria.

But the real reason we’re suspicious of digital targeting-based strategies is that they make one huge, and misguided, assumption. Continue reading

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!)

The 3Fs: Good For Your Brand, Good For Your Budget

Spend any length of time in market research and you become aware of the notorious Cost-Speed-Quality Triangle. Notorious because the idea is you can only have two out of the three. Good and cheap research takes time. Fast and good research ain’t cheap. Fast and cheap research means cutting corners on quality.


The triangle is a seductively simple way to explain the pressures all of us live with – particularly at a time when research buyers are also expected to do more with less thanks to the rise of zero-based budgeting and othe trends. So in recent years, there’s been a push back against the basic assumptions of the Triangle. It’s become less an iron law, more an equation with multiple solutions.

You could argue, in fact, that three of the most important trends in modern marketing are each solving one variable in that equation – pushing back on one corner of the triangle. Outsourcing and procurement works to lower the cost of research. The increasing use of existing data and sophisticated analytics packages work to raise the quality. And automation works to raise the speed.

But all those solutions have something in common. They involve making existing research faster, or cheaper, or work harder. That’s great – as far as it goes. But there’s a whole other way to solve the equation. Do different research.

One of the reasons we developed our 3Fs model of brand growth – Fame, Feeling and Fluency working to track current brand strength and predict future growth – was to address exactly these problems. By thinking about branding from first principles, and asking what are the baseline heuristics which guide decision-making, we could answer another question. How can we help people get the most from their budgets by asking a few simple, useful questions – not a lot of useless ones?

A focus on Fame, Feeling and Fluency – simple heuristics, simply asked – gives the most possible bang for your budget. There is plenty of additional research you could do around your brand, like understanding the stories it can tell or using qual to dig into the roots of Feeling and Fluency. But the 3Fs are the core, giving you a read on the most basic factors driving brand growth. Does your brand come quickly to mind? Do people feel good about it? Is it distinctive?

Even better, these fundamentals are slow to change, so you can conduct effective and efficient strategic research with far fewer dips than traditional trackers (and free up your budget for more tactical, short-term work, if you want!).

How does embracing the 3Fs model deal help solve the equation posed by the Triangle? It can be done quickly, and we are working on automated versions of all our tools to help this happen. It obviously lowers cost, because it’s shorter and less frequent than conventional trackers. And by focusing on the handful of metrics that really drive growth, it raises quality too.

In an age of tightening budget belts, doing the same things better can only get you so far. You need to change your research diet too. The 3Fs offer a great way to do that.

Explaining The Rise Of Donald Trump

Orlando Wood reviews the results of our latest self-funded project – predicting the US election results and understanding the deeper dynamics at play.

Psychology tells us that humans are fast and frugal in our decision-making, that we ‘think much less than we think we think’. Instead, we are guided by impressions, associations, past experience, stories and feelings. We use mental shortcuts or rules of thumb to help us decide between options, products, brands – and indeed politicians. This is what psychologists refer to as ‘fast’ or ‘System 1’ thinking.

Back in late January, before the very first Caucus or Primary vote was cast – when the prediction markets and polls were in a state of flux (and indeed you might say they still are!) – we conducted research in the US to understand how well the US candidates had established the important mental shortcuts of Fame, Feeling and Fluency. Continue reading