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Applied Neuroscience Outpaces the Growth Rate of the Industry by 3x

Neuroscience's incorporation into market research practices is growing in popularity, and for good reason. The growth of neuroscience is at three times the rate of market research, showing great promise for new opportunities.

Editor’s Note: This subsection is featured in the GRIT Insights Practice Report. The GRIT Insights Practice Report is your #1 guide to brand success in the insights industry, featuring the GRIT Future List, client perspectives, and emerging methodologies. You’ll learn what’s making strides, what trends are worth following, and where your company fits into it all.

The most staggering number in the nonconscious measurement chapter is the 11-point growth among Buyers in use of Applied Neuroscience (implicit and timed response). This rate of growth is over 3X the historical annual growth rate of our industry. Building off the Greenbook analysis of the data, we see at least four more factors influencing nonconscious measurement adoption.

First, the numbers represent the percentage of respondents who claim each technique is “in use”, not the percentage of Insights budget captured by these methods. It is quite likely that the use of nonconscious methods is expanding within organizations that have experienced success. This explanation would be more consistent with the growth rates that we, and some of our friendly competitors, have experienced over the past five years. In fact, we usually see clients who try Applied Neuroscience in one application (e.g. Ad testing), turn around and use it in other applications (e.g. package testing, claims testing, concept testing). Nonconscious providers who are outpacing even these 3X growth rates, are likely capturing a greater proportion of Insights budgets.

Second, Applied Neuroscience is extremely practical to incorporate within existing research paradigms. An Insights VP can significantly upgrade a brand tracker or A&U study by incorporating a 2-minute nonconscious exercise. Since this is quantitative data collected at the individual level, those implicit variables can be used to cut all of the other data in a study, providing immediate insights value.

Third, quick conscious response time techniques are actually much more differentiating than Likert scale questions and are easy for Insights pros to understand and explain to internal stakeholders. This highly important reality is likely driving increased adoption. Respondents enjoy these exercises a lot more than batteries of agree/disagree questions (>80% satisfaction) – especially on mobile devices. If I had my druthers, the industry would take the first step and replace all brand attribute assessment Likert scales with these superior conscious response time-based methods.

Fourth, the 2-point decline in Facial Analysis usage among market research buyers is curious. One factor that is likely playing a role is the outside investment being made in Facial Analysis. After attracting investment, a trend has been to redirect resources to larger opportunities outside of the $46B research industry (e.g. the automotive industry). While this shift in priority makes sense for investors, it is leaving a hole in sales and service to market research. Early experiences with Facial Analysis, left a lot of questions on why consumers were reacting emotionally. However, the latest advances in Facial Analysis, which combine a change in implicit perceptions with expressions of emotions, provide much more useful explanations of the “why” behind the expressions. We expect that, as market researchers experience the practicality and power of these integrated techniques, adoption of Facial Analysis will increase.

In summary, we see this staggering growth of Applied Neuroscience to be consistent, if not understated, with our experience of the full penetration of these methods.

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