Cognitive X-ray to the subconscious mindâ¦

I’ve some good news for Iain Murray and Lord Lamont about the future of focus groups (MW July 14); their criticisms have been addressed.

No researcher in their right mind would dispute Iain’s assertion that simply asking people to consciously express an opinion fails to “penetrate the unconscious mind, and it is there, deep below the surface, that most of the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviour occur”.

The big debate in market research now centres on this issue and the need to apply modern science to produce more certain findings if the profession is to survive and prosper. The good news is that cognitive science has developed proven ways to measure the subconscious mind and establish people’s true feelings without using cumbersome equipment and without asking them to express their opinion. Malcolm Gladwell touches on some of these techniques of indirect questioning in his book Blink.

We have successfully applied these tools to predicting how new positionings, products, packs and promotions will affect people’s future feelings and behaviour.

Both Iain Murray and Lord Lamont find conventional focus groups guilty of routinely vetting dud ideas. Our alternative approach has been proving that ideas that get rejected in groups can turn out to be the most effective when it comes to changing people’s views.

These findings have highlighted how people in group discussions use their conscious mind to form a rational argument based on their certainty of past events to predict their response in an unknown future. By measuring the impact of new ideas on the subconscious mind, we help our clients identify truly new opportunities, not leave them pandering to a conservative status quo.

Philip Wilson

Managing director

Duckfoot Research & Development

London

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