Neuromarketing in South Africa: an Interview With Mark Drummond From Neural Sense

The future of marketing is happening as we speak…a revolutionary tool in unpacking the psychological components of the consumer is being utilised for the first time in South Africa

The technology is called neuromarketing, and the applications of this innovative science is helping to bridge the holistic gap between consumers and brands, products and communications.

Neural Sense, a “neuromarketing consultancy”, is in fact the first of its kind on the African continent. The Cape Town based company is offering local brands and agencies an in depth, neurological and purely human-driven critique on the impactfulness of their service offerings. Psychological, neurological and physiological stimuli initiates the engagement between touchpoints and consumers. Neural Sense aims to uncover the elements where their clients can optimise communication strategies to allow for a more engaged target market.

Springleap had a Q&A session with Mark Drummond, one of the directors at Neural Sense. Mark provided insight into the industry, as well as the technologies and applications of neuromarketing in South Africa.

Springleap: Hi Mark, thank you for taking the time out to speak with us about the neuromarketing industry. Could you start by providing us with a brief timeline of Neural Sense’s history?

Mark: It’s a pleasure, and certainly. The industry itself is only 10 - 15 years old and has been evolving and advancing in its methodologies ever since. The company saw the first light of day in 2009. My background lies in marketing and advertising. David Rosenstein and Brandon Bester are also directors of the company. David comes from a background in psychology and brought invaluable insight to the table from his knowledge of neuroscience. Brandon has experience in the tech industry and an undying passion for consumer behaviour and unpacking complex data. We all share a core interest for new technology and found a gap in the market for gaining tech-driven and biological insights from consumer markets.

Springleap: Could you provide our readership with a definition of “neuromarketing”?

Mark: It would be interesting to note that 95% of the decision making process is based on subconscious stimuli. 6 seconds is all it takes to perceive, ponder and finalise an action. Neuromarketing relates to the concept of studying these subconscious behaviours for the purposes of analysing and acting upon the resulting data to enable an “enhancing” of the consumer-brand experience. Neuromarketing uses expertise and tools such as neuroscience, the measurement of emotional reactions, biometrics and the analysis of human subconscious behaviour.

Springleap: How does this methodology differ from traditional advertising copy testing?

Mark: Traditionally, copy testing is split into three categories; namely observation, asking the consumers directly and analysing record sales behaviour. These methods unfortunately come standard with their own interpersonal failings and weaknesses. Neural Sense has differentiated itself from these old-school techniques by instead targeting the emotional range, stimuli triggers and underlying trajectory of the consumer’s mind.

Springleap: In essence, what is Neural Sense offering to clients?

Mark: Our value proposition in essence is to identify the components of any brand’s communication, right through to their packaging, advertising and product offering, in which they can optimise the experience of engagement for their target markets. Using our technology, the core idea is to “emote” our clients.

Springleap: Why do you think neuromarketing in South Africa is becoming more of a popular and exciting route for brands to take?

Mark: The advent of biometrics paved a transparent understanding of the consumer’s psyche. This method of analysis and research is new in South Africa, innovative, constantly advancing and is the way of the future. The popularity should continue to rise.

Springleap: What implications does this carry for the South African branding landscape, and what will it mean for consumers?

Mark: The technology and insight gained from neuromarketing in South Africa will ultimately result in the enhancement of the flow of communication between brands and consumers. As a result, the quality and impactfulness of brands’ touchpoints will only improve. This refined system of consumer-brand relations will overflow into logistics, which should indirectly benefit from the insights gathered and help to cut out irrelevancies - which could save brands a lot of money.

Springleap: What does a typical “day in the office” look like at Neural Sense?

Mark: Good question. We always tend to be in the midst of experimentation with our technologies and research - sometimes we offer our own minds to the process and become our own “guinea pigs”. We formulate our executions in a very scientific approach and the culture could be described as “educational”.

Springleap: We would love to gain some knowledge and insight into the technologies that Neural Sense utilises. Could you tell us how they are applied for their intended uses? Specifically in the areas of Psychophysiology, Body Language and Neurophysiology.

Mark: Of course, I’ll break them down for you:

1) Psychophysiology - This is the study of how your body acts and reacts to environmental nuances. a GSR sensor unit is used to measure the emotional state of a subject. Sweat pores are used to determine the level of comfortability, anxiety, or calm. In essence, the machine reflects the processes of a lie detector by reading electrical levels. This data can be analysed to draw insight into which elements of branding are affecting audiences in certain ways.

2) Body Language - The one authentic thing about facial expressions is that they are culturally universal. It is the one element of human reaction that is consistent throughout any market that may be targeted. Facial coding software, called the action unit or AU for the purposes of abbreviation, is used to “map” the subject’s face and report on the muscle movements when given an element of branding to engage with. The software is also able to follow the direction of gaze and quickly identify focus points. For example, how long was the subject looking at a particular visual for, or where exactly was he/she looking?

3) Neurophysiology - This technology uses Electroencephalography (EEG) measurements to gain a bird’s eye view of what is actually going in the brain. The device is strapped onto the subject’s head and the frequency, amplitude and electrical activity is thus recorded, measured and presented for review.

Springleap: We couldn’t help but notice that you have included a product range into your business offering. Could you provide us with a short summary into what you are selling?

Mark: We offer top of the range packages to cater for all of our clients’ needs. The price ranges are dependent on the technology used. From an “Emote Consult” through to “Emote Professional” and more, we cater to the budget and needs of anybody. We have found that our integrated packages are preferred and loved by most of our clientele.

For a complete list of what Neural Sense has to offer, please click here

Springleap: Have there been any exciting developments in the company of late? Any big news to share?

Mark: We have established relations with UCT, and if everything goes according to plan the university should be implementing a course in neuromarketing by the end of the year.

Springleap: We look forward to hearing more about that! Finally, can we provide an informational shout out to our readers who wish to get in contact with Neural Sense?

Mark: Certainly, you can link up to our website and contact details by following this link

Springleap: Springleap thanks you for your time today, Mark. You’ve shed a lot of light on the “future is now’ industry of neuromarketing in South Africa.

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