Emotion, Mothers & Milk: What Emotion Research Tells Us About Conveying Facts To Worried Mums.

August 7, 2013

Nothing resonates so emotionally with a mother as a threat to her baby. Food safety and quality concerns with infant foods have huge impact and, these days, any issue is quickly picked up and broadcast (often in simplified or exaggerated forms) over social media. Rumours spread and reputations sink. In 2008, a Melamine contamination of Sanlu brand baby formulas in China had a major impact on mothers’ perceptions of product quality especially for local brands. As I write, another infant milk contamination issue has hit Asia, this time traced to problems with powder produced by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra. Coincidentally, AsiaEmotion has been evaluating emotional reaction to Growing-Up milk advertising in Asia, and the results have some clear lessons for those trying to rebuild confidence in the sector. (AsiaEmotion is a large scale, Pan-Asian exploration of Asian consumers emotional response to advertising, carried out by Gordon & McCallum and Cimigo ulitlising nViso’s 3D Facial Imaging technology to directly measure emotions evoked. More details can be found in earlier articles on this site, or at www.asiaemotion.com).

  feihe_facts

(Growing-Up Milk Ad: Experts give Chinese Mums the facts about quality – but puts them to sleep?)

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While the direct health consequences of the current problem seem to likely be limited, the fact that New Zealand has a “clean green” image in Asia and that it supplies milk powder both for its own brands and for other manufacturers means that the impact on reputation and trust may yet affect the whole category. What should a brand owner do under these circumstances? Clearly the first steps, learnt over many years and numerous PR disasters, are apology and transparency. Fonterra’s CEO is in China right now, doing just that. But as the public health problem fades, the issues for brands will become marketing ones: rebuilding trust and reinforcing or reigniting perceptions of quality.

I’m going to focus on a couple of Growing-Up Milk ads from China.One is for a local brand Fei He, seemingly intended to prove it is substantive, concerned with quality, and essentially  as good as “international brands” in all important respects. The other is for Dumex and is aimed at conveying its international status, reputation, and “gold standard” brand heritage. (To see the ads, and the emotive response to them,  you can click on Feihe and Dumex Gold). These commercials can be seen as a response to the earlier Melamine scandal, in that the brand owners clearly see Chinese mothers as needing reassurance about quality and reputation. Both however, appear to have failed to engage consumers, particularly in the key message sequences.  In the current context this matters – over coming months brands are going to have to convey some fairly clear messages about brand quality and reputation.  So what lessons do these ads give us.

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Instant Noodles in India –Tug of War or Tugging Heartstrings?

July 29, 2013

One of the fascinating things about using Facial Imaging when exposing competitive ads to the same respondents in a single category is that it provides unspoken clues about relative brand positioning issues (as FI does not rely on ‘rational’ recall or post-exposure rating).

 ToW foodles

 A brand with an inherently easy to understand positioning is more likely to get its message across clearly than a brand attempting to make consumers think about the product in a new light. Here, we see an example of an Instant Noodles brand, Horlick’s Foodles, taking on the task of provoking Indian mothers believe that instant noodles can actually be nutritious. It is done in a manner successfully demonstrated in previous posts (telling a story and building towards the main message), but the style of the execution is perhaps a little too dark. So it does not seem to reduce the high level of apprehension when the main ‘nutritious noodles’ idea is brought forward. Maggi, by contrast, takes an easily believable ‘life-saver’ message (that Maggi noodles are there and ready when you really need them) and pushes this in an engaging positive manner connected by a catchy jingle. Clever execution combines with a clear-cut positioning to evoke a strong response that builds positively.

The key lesson is if you are taking on a difficult advertising task such as proposing something that may conflict with common wisdom, the sequence and content of emotions evoked is critical.  Such ads are more likely to lose direction in emotional terms, and need more careful prior assessment. Read the rest of this entry »


Emotional Engagement & the Indonesian Consumer

July 16, 2013

In the second of the AsiaEmotion series, we look at SE Asia’s largest market, Indonesia, and show why we think advertisers have a substantial Opportunity to Improve Emotional Punch. Using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging, AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said after.

The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.

Today we’ll look at the services sector comparing ads from competitors Telkomsel and Indosat. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Telkomsel and Indosat

As a general observation based on the AsiaEmotion findings, Indonesian ads show lower emotional response than other large Asian markets. However, compared to Indonesian ads in other day-to-day categories, Telecom ads evoke about average levels of emotional response. For Telkomsel in particular, the type, build, and shape of response were better than most Indonesian ads as whole.Image

The lower “amount” of emotion may well be related to the high level of very direct product/deal promotion content in nearly all ads. Such scenes cause builds in response to plateau (Telkomsel) or drop off (especially for Indosat).

The relatively low levels of emotion evoked represent an opportunity to increase cut-through and engagement.  Telecom advertisers should consider separate distinctive strategies for brand building and product offering in order to generate more focussed executions.

When reviewing the findings, Indirect Style Beats Direct Functional Approach. Telkomsel uses a dialogue between teenage girls to introduce their key message. The ‘teenage girl’ interaction (with a nice girl vs. nasty girl slant), realistic language, and mannerisms build interest among (presumed) key target groups.

Indo Tel 2

Indosat uses a Game show format to introduce its benefits. These are brought in early, very directly and literally “shouted” at the audience. The rapid change of scenes/visuals leads to low, negative emotive response with poor coherence.

Indo Tel 4

Again, Details Matter, the Telkomsel ad seems crafted to focus on specific target groups and their concerns and behaviours. This leads to more clarity in emotional terms.

Indo Tel 3

When and how the key service offer is introduced also appears to matter – overall we find it is better to bring such offers in parallel with the story or after emotion has built.  This approach is taken by Telkomsel and looks to be more effective than in an immediate, direct recitation of the offer (as in the case of Indosat).

Reactions to specific talent can distract or annoy. The MC, or his manner, in the Indosat ad seems to annoy women.  AsiaEmotion results generally show that reactions to talent can vary markedly among sub-groups and celebrities should not be assumed as universal in their appeal.

Indo Tel 5

The Key Lesson is that despite a direct, clear recitation of benefits and brand, Indosat evokes lower and more negative emotion. It is also lower on rational measures than or Telkomsel and other telecom ads. Indonesian consumers are perhaps out-growing the overtly direct “functional” delivery in commercials

Telkomsel – the Emotional Profile

This well targeted ad succeeds at evoking positive response among Females, SES AB and young (which are the presumed target markets). It combines high emotional response with relatively high ‘rational’ ratings, the only concerning issue being that emotion takes a while to build, thus increasing the risk of channel switching

There is a marked spike in Surprise when the offer is introduced, and the combination of Surprise & Happiness at this stage indicates the offer evokes “Delight”. There are some negatives towards the end, but in context of Happiness being maintained, this likely indicates engagement and memorability

Indo Tel 6

Furthermore, there is a peak in Apprehension/Fear during branding, which may show some nervousness about the brand itself, indicating a need for brand research to determine what is driving this.

Indosat – the Emotional Profile

We see low levels of emotive response with no clear pattern and quite high negatives. (Rational responses to traditional MR questions on interest etc were also lower than others.) These erratic response patterns are associated with rapid change of scenes and messages.

The male MC and the drummer seem to particularly annoy women and although Males and SES C show more positive response, it is still not high relative to other ads tested in the market.

Indo Tel 7

Low positive and high negative response during both branding and main message sequences, raise concerns that this ad could negatively impact brand equity.

Overall then, ‘shouting out’ benefits, and getting them out up-front and early, while superficially useful tactics in the crowded media environment of Indonesian Television, may actually be counter-productive.  Subtler approaches to emotional marketing may ultimately pay bigger dividends.

In our next blog we’ll move to India and a food category – but for now if you would like any more information please contact Alastair Gordon or David McCallum. Or visit the Asia Emotion website http://www.asiaemotion.com


Soft Drinks, Soft Sell – Emotional Engagement & the Chinese Consumer

July 2, 2013

Over the next few months we’ll be blogging a special series revealing the findings from AsiaEmotion, a pan-Asia study on everyday advertising in the region’s key markets. AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly and scientifically using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said they felt after the event.
The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.
Today we’ll compare a couple of soft drink ads from China, promoting iconic brands Coke and Sprite. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Coca-Cola and Sprite. Read the rest of this entry »


Men & Women Watching Ads – Different Markets or Different Species?

June 22, 2012

The more I look at the patterns of response to advertising revealed by facial imaging the more I’m convinced that the old “Men are from Mars, Women from Venus” chestnut has validity. (Facial Imaging is the direct measurement of emotion via webcams – see www.nviso.ch if you want to know how it works).  In essence major contrasts in reaction are the norm in the ads we’ve studied and this seems to hold across cultures and is not confined to the obvious categories like cars or alcohol. Yes, MR studies have often noted gender differences, but I’m not referring merely to broad reaction to the ad but the fact that the level, pattern and type of emotional reaction to specific elements of the commercial can differ wildly.

Women (pink line) React To An Ad With Lots of Baby Shots. OK for a while, but get it wrong and you lose them.

Even when the overall  response of males and females is pretty similar (e.g. as measured by self-reported liking, impact etc.) the norm is that you’ll find that the build of emotion and reaction to specific scenes diverges markedly. While I’d be the first to admit we need to do a lot more systematic analysis to back up my initial assessments, I’m increasingly of the view that this has huge implications for advertising and research. Read the rest of this entry »


Watching and Listening – An Alternative to Direct Questioning?

April 10, 2012

In the early 90’s, the ‘tagline’ of a leading Japanese agency’s brochure was ‘the key to understanding was to read between the lines of what was not said’. Two decades later, Shobha Prasad re-visited the issue focusing on the layering and subtleties of Asian languages in ‘Listening to the Sounds of Silence’ at ESOMAR’s APAC Conference.

As Asia grows more healthy, wealthy, and wired, superficially its consumers resemble their Western counterparts. Sometimes even, having leapfrogged technological lifecycles, they appear more advanced. Nevertheless, although these new trappings bring an almost ‘stateless’ vocabulary to the world’s languages, the fundamental challenges of interpreting local cultural nuance and international comparisons remain.

Direct questioning methods is felt to be (even) less effective in Asia due to language structure, cultural norms, and social convention. Asian consumers are often not so forthcoming with opinions than Western ones – although researchers in Mumbai or Manila may well disagree. The real issue, though, is the huge variety of expression, both verbally and visually. As well as vocabulary and sentence structure, different expressions also support communication. Cultures displaying emotion less conservatively usually have the mouth as the main focus; a culture that masks its feelings focuses more subtly on the eyes when determining emotion. So, visual cues can be equally important to gauge underlying sentiments. Read On..>


The Landscape Of Emotion

February 22, 2012

Measuring emotion is increasingly straightforward – interpreting the results still requires some intellectual subtlety.

Emotion, and the research techniques that measure it, remain hot topics in market research. Many of you will have read of Brainjuicer’s Valentine’s day card to Millward Brown, celebrating the latter’s purported “embracing” of emotion as a key marketing driver. A lot of fun for those of us that are observers of course, but leaving aside the question of whether this unduly caricatures Millward-Brown’s approach to emotional analysis, I detect in the discussion, another caricature: the reduction of ‘emotion’ to something simplistic and monolithic. If only we can measure this emotion stuff, we will ‘have the answer’. Maybe, if we can find the right emotional measurement machine we researchers can all retire?

As some of you know, David and I are working (with nViso SA of Switzerland) with exactly that: an “emotional measurement machine” that directly measures people’s emotional response to stimuli via a method called 3D Facial Imaging. Here’s a chart based on 3D Facial Imaging data – I’ll explain it’s significance later in this post, for the moment just note we can directly measure specific types of emotive response with a standard computer and webcam.

Hills & Valleys in The Landscape of Emotion (See Below for Explanation)

This is, I would argue, much more accurate and granular than any questionnaire based method. Yet, despite being thrilled by the results we are obtaining, I would not argue that we have reached some sort of  “deus ex machinamoment, where researchers and subtle interpretation become redundant.

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