Beyond “What happened” to “Why”

Probing the entrails of a database and examining past transactions can reveal a lot about customer behavior, so long as you define “behavior” as what customers have done. But, analysis of the emotions that actually create the behavior gets beyond the “what they’ve done” to the “why they do it”. And the addition of that “why” insight improves a company’s ability to predict what its customers (and potential customers) will do in the future and insulate itself from those sneaky competitors.

Also, while examining historical data can be extremely useful, by its very nature, this data loses a lot of its “juice” over time. After all, it’s historical. The more time that passes between a given occurrence and the time you examine that occurrence, the more the world has changed around you and around your customers.

A thorough understanding of the emotions that drive the decisions your customers make, especially when laid over an analysis of past transactions, keeps your “insight pool” fresh and bubbly and helps you make smarter decisions faster and with greater confidence.

Visual proof of emotions overruling reasoning Importance of Emotions

whithead1                         whithead2

Emotions dominate reasoning

whithead3Here is evidence that emotions dominate reasoning. This test subject is being shown a logo for a particular company, to which the subject is reacting negatively. The small green area on the right side of the subject’s neocortex represents the closing down of logical thought resulting from a negative emotional state. Not much reaction, not much judgment, not much information-processing. The large, red area in the frontal lobes (the “executive function” of the brain that regulates attention and decision-making) indicates that the subject’s attention mechanism is “closed.” Reasoning is inactive, buying decisions are blocked. This subject would be completely unreceptive to any message from the company in question.

When negative emotions exist toward a company or brand, customers or potential customers will not evaluate any offering until these emotions are acknowledged and dealt with separately from any sales message or branding proposition.

whithead4Positive emotions make the brain receptive. This test subject is positive toward the brand and much more open to sales propositions and messages.

Compare this image to the previous one. The green area in the neocortex is considerably larger, indicating considerable thinking about the brand, the image, memories, plans, etc.

Also note how the green area has moved to the left hemisphere. Since the capacity to process language is a function of the left hemisphere, this shows that this subject is prepared to accept and process a sales message.

The orange/yellow color in the frontal lobe indicates that the subject’s attention mechanism has been “opened” by a positive emotional reaction to the brand.

A customer in the mental state indicated by this image is open to a sales message or branding proposition because the front (executive) part of his or her brain has given permission to listen.

Experiment Conducted at The University of Louisville by Dr. Harry Whitaker, using a 128-electrode geodesic net