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

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.

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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

Fame, Feeling And Fluency: A VW Case Study

Volkswagen, as you just may have heard, is in a spot of trouble at the moment. The kind of trouble that wipes a quarter or more off a company’s share price and removes CEOs. Whether the legal fallout from their emissions-test-fixing scandal, and the fines the company face, will cripple or even destroy VW is an open question. But there’s another question to answer too – what are consumers making of all this? How likely are they to forgive VW, or didn’t they care much in the first place?

Image (C) Telegraph Newspapers

Image (C) Telegraph Newspapers

Predicting consumer reaction in the wake of a scandal is a tricky business. It’s easy to overestimate the effects of news stories on people’s perceptions – particularly as the common ways of gauging that effect are often flawed. Asking people to predict future behaviour, for instance, is very unreliable, particularly when a single negative news story is dominating perceptions and making certain future behaviour seem more socially acceptable. Looking at social media data is just as problematic: social media is a performative medium with a high degree of norming. Or to put it more plainly, mob mentality today is no guide to brand strength tomorrow.

So what can you do? Keep an eye on the fundamentals. Decisions about brands are like decisions about anything: most of them are made quickly and without much conscious thought. As Gerd Gigerenzer puts it, we are “fast and frugal” decision makers, and we rely on certain broad heuristics to make choices that are good enough.

We rely on Fame – if a brand comes quickly to mind, it’s a good enough choice.

We rely on Feeling – if we feel positively towards a brand, it’s a good enough choice.

We rely on Fluency – if we recognise a brand easily, it’s a good enough choice. Continue reading

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Emotional ads – we love ‘em. The ponies, the babies, the wheelchair basketballers, the epic soundtracks and hilarious gags. If you’ve read anything by BrainJuicer, you’re probably aware that we are proud believers in ads that make you feel something.


Thank You, Mom (P&G): An emotional ad. A great campaign.

But there’s a problem. A single 5-Star famous ad can change a company’s fortunes. But a single ad rarely performs to its potential with no help. As channels of communication proliferate, and our understanding of how people use them grows, focus is shifting from ads to campaigns: just this month, WARC launched its WARC 100 list to celebrate effective campaigns across every channel.

Emotion still works. But making emotion last over the length of a campaign is a different job from making an emotional ad. Give a good ad the right back-up – continued broadcast, online seeding, multi-channel execution, interactive and in-store executions, packaging tie-ins and other approaches – and it can end up making more money than a great ad which never got the sustained support it deserved.

(That’s one reason we shout so much about 5-Star ads – anyone can find average ads that you can spend into being quite good. We’re all about trying to find the ideas that really demand that investment – the ones that make you famous.)

Next Tuesday, Gabriel Aleixo from our Sao Paolo office will be presenting a webinar on how BrainJuicer approaches campaign tracking, drawing on some successful work in Brazil over the last few years.

As you’d expect, emotion is at the heart. How brands make you feel over the course of a campaign is central to our approach – and we use a range of measures to get at that. But because this is a campaign, we have to be able to measure it at every touchpoint – and that’s where mobile devices come in, particularly the mobile ethnography expertise we’ve developed in our Juice Generation qualitative team.

If you want to know more about BrainJuicer’s methods and results, do please sign up for the Webinar on System 1 Brand Tracking. We’d love to have you listening in.

Taming The Panda

Brand Trackers are the Giant Pandas of research. They are slow-moving and not particularly clever. They exist on an extremely limited diet of hard to digest data. They are naturally solitary, rarely joining up with other data sets. And getting them to procuce offspring, in the form of useful insights, is an exceptionally arduous and frustrating process. In short, they seem like something of an evolutionary disaster and it’s remarkable they have survived given the pressures of the modern world.

But Giant Pandas and Brand Trackers share another important trait. Enormous amounts of money are spent keeping them both alive. Why? The answer is simple. People like them.


Just as there’s something primally appealing and comforting about a great big furry black-and-white animal, there’s also something primally appealing and comforting about getting a set of numbers which tell you how well you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if they’re based on flawed data, or bogus assumptions about how people make decisions. It doesn’t even matter if they’re no practical use. The numbers are there, they appear reliably, and what’s more they’re pretty shareable in the organisation.

And that’s why, despite many predictions, brand trackers aren’t extinct yet. It’s also why calls to wipe them out are about as successful as, well, calls for a giant panda cull.

But is there a way to do smarter tracking? We think there is. Continue reading