Innovation Month: Fighting Back Against Idea Fatigue

We’ve all heard the figures about the staggering numbers of new products launched every year. But what people don’t often say is that these innovations are rather unevenly distributed. Some categories see only a few major launches. Others see a huge turnover of new ideas. And behind every one that makes it to market there are a throng of concepts that didn’t get that far.


Trying to innovate in these everyday but high-turnover categories – think alcoholic drinks, waters, snack foods, or haircare for instance – can be frustrating, and it must seem like idea fatigue has set in and only truly special concepts can break through. The rest get dismissed – “Too boring!” “Too weird!” “Too off-putting!”

Is there hope? Yes. There are a few things you can do to improve your innovation process and optimise concepts to prevent the ones with commercial potential from getting lost. Here are our top four tips.

Continue reading

The Top Ten Tips For Better Concept Writing

People make decisions about new things in exactly the same way they make any decision – quickly, intuitively, and emotionally.

So why make your concepts long, discursive and full of rational benefits?

Force of habit, mainly. But get your concepts right, and your concept testing becomes a whole lot more accurate and useful. Mark Johnson, our Europe MD, has put together a booklet with our best tips on how – and here it is!

(If the embed doesn’t work for you, go look here.)


Our Best Blog Posts Of 2014

It’s been a busy year at BrainJuicer and on this blog, and with the end of 2014 fast approaching it’s time to take our annual look at the posts you read the most – our most popular content, as voted. Can anything beat last year’s runaway winner, “How To Eat A Sandwich (The Daniel Kahneman Way)“? As it happens, yes. Let’s count down and find out what…


10. So, How Many Basic Emotions Are There Again? Like most successful theories, Paul Ekman’s “7 basic emotions” makes a juicy target for a news story looking to debunk it. This year’s attempt spotlighted a claim that there are only four basic emotions. Bad news for Ekman? Not really – the new work identifies primal emotions that may have evolved earlier, but Ekman’s ideas are still the relevant ones to humans as we are today.

9. The Best Graduate Job In The World? Micha Dudley joined BrainJuicer in 2013 in our Behaviour Change Unit team. In this post, she offers a look at what working here is really like from a graduate perspective. (Spoilers! It’s awesome!)

8. Reclaiming Research’s Radicalism Back in May, planner Martin Weigel published a mini-manifesto about restoring planning to its radical roots. This was our cover version, looking at how well research lives up to his ideas. And in a lot of places, it doesn’t – things the industry should embrace, like learnings from marketing science, get ignored in favour of received wisdom and “zombie ideas”.

7. South-East Asian Advertising: What Works? Happiness is a universal emotion, but not every culture reaches it in a similar way. This post looks at some self-funded ad testing we ran in Thailand and Indonesia, exploring the different drivers of 5-star advertising in each country.

6. 7-1! There was a World Cup this year, you might remember. And if you’re Brazilian or German, you surely also remember the shock outcome of the two countries’ semi-final. In the aftermath of Brazilian despair and German triumph, we turned a behavioural science lens on the match: how on earth had it all gone so wrong for Brazil, and what lessons could be drawn from it using psychology and decision science?

5. Meet The Most Successful Research App Of 2014 The research industry has spent decades making trade-off analysis as tedious as possible for participants. The runaway success of a tough-decisions app for teens should make them think again.

4. 2014 Christmas Ads: The Emotional Winners Revealed This post only went up a couple of weeks ago, but with the UK Christmas ad race these days a lot more interesting than the race for the Christmas No.1, it’s no surprise it’s proved very popular. Monty The Penguin takes on raving Christmas lights, World War One soldiers, posh fairies and a kid on a chopper bike in this highlights and lowlights review. (For the full story – with over 15 ads rated – get in touch!)

3. These Aren’t The Insights You’re Looking For The second in a series of posts exploring the demise of the traditional research concept, and how to get testing new ideas right. The conceit here – what if Star Wars had been put through the research wringer? – helped make it one of our most-tweeted posts, as well as one of our most-read.

2. The Behavioural Economics Guide 2014 – A Free Behaviour Change Resource Want people to visit a blog? Give them free stuff! Longtime BrainJuicer associate Alain Samson wrote a Behavioural Economics guidebook this year, and we linked to a free PDF of it. It’s still up. It’s still free. What are you waiting for?

1. Obituary – The Traditional Concept c.1960-2014 And our most successful post of the year was probably also our most fun to write – there’s a lesson in there somewhere! A mock obituary of the traditional research concept, explaining how it can’t keep pace with a System 1 world. The interest in our proposed solution – VisiCepts – has been enormous, but the story starts here.

So that was our 2014 – how was yours? There will still be a couple of posts to go before the year ends, of course, and right at the end of the year there’s our 15th birthday (which we’ll be celebrating in January – that time of year needs a bit of cheering up…!)

Thanks for reading this blog, and have a fantastic holiday season.

Goodbye Concepts, Hello VisiCepts!

In September on Brian Juicer blog we declared the traditional concept dead – a relic from a marketing model built on the assumption that people are considered, “System 2” decision makers, when these days we know they aren’t.

Then we followed it up by using Star Wars to explain how the traditional insight statement also had to go – it patronises and pushes the concept audience. If you need to trot out an insight at the start of your concept, it simply isn’t working hard enough.

So by now you might be asking – what should concepts be doing?

We asked ourselves the same question. And we came up with two possibilities for a new type of concept: one which emphasised simplicity, one which used visual metaphor. So we did what all good researchers should – we tested them. We got a bunch of recent launches from the drinks industry and designed concepts for them, testing old-school “System 2” concepts against our two new formats. Continue reading

These Aren’t The Insights You’re Looking For

Last week on the blog we published an obituary for the Traditional Concept, which struck a nerve and became our most-read post for months. Research concepts, we argued, are simply too reasonable – they are appeals to deliberative System 2 thinking in a world where decisions are actually made by our fast, emotionally-guided System 1.

So concepts ought to try and reach System 1 first: they should be far more visual, ought to have more emotional charge and ought to be easier to process (i.e. use fewer words). This isn’t because we think those concepts will necessarily do better in tests – though in our validations many do – but because System 1 concepts replicate real behavioural context better, and are more differentiated. It’s easier with System 1 concepts to tell apart the winners from the losers.

The next question is – what should such concepts include? In upcoming posts we’ll talk about that. But this post is about something they shouldn’t include. Concepts that appeal to System 1 should not lead off with an insight statement.

Perhaps this seems like odd advice. After all, a good insight ought to be a universal human truth – something that feels intuitively right. If we’re looking for emotional impact, isn’t the insight the most emotional part of a concept?


“Luuuuke…. I am your insiiiiight…”

The reason for dropping insights boils down to three words: show, don’t tell. It’s the most basic advice to scriptwriters and it applies to concept writing too. If you have a human truth behind your concept, it should be something people can feel in the visuals and the description. It doesn’t have to be something they can articulate. In fact, sometimes it shouldn’t be.

For example, let’s think about Star Wars. Continue reading

Obituary: The Traditional Concept, c.1960 – 2014

The traditional Concept, which passed away earlier this year after a brief illness, will be fondly remembered by the many researchers who spent time with it. It was a reassuring presence in the research industry, its three part structure – Insight-Benefit-Reason To Believe – resonating as a solid, common sense way of developing and testing new products.


Unfailing enthusiasm for lost causes was one of the deceased’s virtues.

The birthplace of the traditional Concept is disputed, but by the 1960s and 1970s it was a prominent fixture on the research scene, though at that point it consisted only of Benefits and RTBs. Even so its enthusiasm for innovation gave it a dynamic air as it introduced products like 1973’s Superfry, “the cooking oil that sets like jelly”. “It sets!” announced the traditional Concept, “It does something no other oil can do.” Continue reading

Does My Idea Look Big In This?

When Charles Darwin wanted to get married, he took what he imagined was a methodical approach. He wrote out a list of reasons to do it, and a list of reasons not to. But then, at the bottom, his “conclusion” betrayed that there was more heart than head involved. “Marry Marry Marry” he simply wrote, adding a fools-nobody “QED”.


Jennifer Connolly as Emma Darwin

Next Tuesday we have the latest in our series of free webinars, this one about our approach to optimizing concepts. (For once we wrestled the Pun Genie back into the lamp, and called it Concept Optimizer).

What does this have to do with Darwin’s dilemma? We believe most concept optimization tools behave a bit like Charles Darwin – they uncover a lot of well-thought-out reasons and draw conclusions from them. Ours is a little different. We find out how people feel about an idea, and build our diagnostics from that – because we think, as in most decisions, the implicit, emotional brain leads the way. Continue reading