Human behaviour: marketing is a no-brainer

By Lucy Clark | 26 March 2014

Global behavioural scientist John Kearon has warned today's marketing model is in need of a drastic shake-up to fall in line with how our brains actually work.

Speaking in Sydney today, the founder and 'chief juicer' at UK-based research company BrainJuicer said context, copying and emotion are overlooked in far too many marketing campaigns.

'Seduction trumps persuasion in all instances,' he said.

Famous in marketing circles for his phase of mooning at conferences to highlight the seven key emotions, Kearon told the Global Marketer Conference: 'The reality is we think much less than we think we think.'

Demonstrating the importance of context, he said: 'The most extreme example is Rolls Royce, who sell more cars at boat shows than from their car showrooms - because when you're looking at yachts, a £500,000 car sounds a bargain.'

Kearon said copying is also central to human behaviour - and key to successful advertising.

'Copying is what we do best. Encouraging people to see what others are doing and making something seem popular is more important in marketing than it actually being popular. The proof that we copy blindly is in Crocs,' he said.

Emotion is also central to good marketing, according to Kearon.

'Feeling really drives marketing,' he said. 'Brand recall is utterly useless. Brand recognition is what matters. If you want five-star marketing it's got to be emotional.'

Pointing to the Cadbury Gorilla ad and the '70s Cornetto ad in the UK with the 'Just one Cornetto' song, he said: 'The ads we remember are almost pure emotion. It's the stuff that seems almost playful and frivolous. That's the sort of marketing behavioural sciences are starting to deliver.'

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