Last year, 40 film trailers were shown to more than 1,000 people, measuring their heart rate, breathing, how much they sweated, their motion responses, and what their eyes focused on. Using the results, they found they could predict box office hits.

According to Fast Company magazine, “If a film’s trailer fails to reach a specific emotional engagement threshold, it will very likely generate less than $10 million in revenue on opening weekend.” But a film whose trailer exceeds a certain engagement threshold “will very likely earn more than $20 million the first weekend”. This got executives at Fox and Paramount to take their feet off their desks.

Neuromarketing is here, big time. It uses tools such as magnetic resonance imaging to map the brain as it reacts to TV and print ads, websites, logos, new products and packaging, etc. By observing which areas in the brain react, neuroscientists can, to varying degrees, predict consumer preference.

So ColemanWick has jumped on the neuromarketing brainwagon. In fact, we now have access to the most sophisticated research tools in Northeast Ohio. And why not? Ignoring this remarkable way to understand consumer behavior would be as absurd as pathologists refusing to use microscopes.

But results must be interpreted carefully – excitement and interest doesn’t always translate to sales or brand loyalty. For instance, sandwich chain Quiznos ran an ad that featured cartoon-like rodents, and it was generally deemed funny, likable and engaging…people even remembered it. There was just one problem: people don’t want to associate rats with food. It wasn’t too successful.

By the way – if you find all of this to be a bit creepy, 27% of consumers agree with you (we’re researchers – we know these things.) Fortunately for us, and for clients everywhere, most people are okay with it. In fact some people really get into it – they readily volunteer for such research projects in part because they find it fascinating to learn deeper truths about themselves.

We’re not controlling reactions, for heaven’s sake. We’re just observing and interpreting them…

Unless you count the fact that we kept your interest to the end of this newsletter.