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August 5, 2019

The definitive guide to neuroexperience

By Kristy Castleton

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August 5, 2019

‘Neuroexperience’. It sounds complex, doesn’t it? We’d all be able to explain what an ‘experience’ is, but shove ‘neuro’ on the front and suddenly it seems like a term reserved for lab coats and James Bond villains. In reality, though, neuroexperience is simply where science (neuro) meets event marketing (experiences). A basic concept with an outsized impact.  As the world’s first neuroexperience agency, this is Rebel & Soul’s bread and butter. From uncoding the secrets of neuromarketing to mastering the art of memory-making, exploring the depths of the subconscious to wielding the futuristic power of neurotech, this guide will explain what neuroexperience really is, how it works, why it’s increasingly important and, crucially, how you can get involved.  Download The Definitive Guide to Neuroexperiences.

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What is Neuroexperience? Download our Definitive Guide to Neuroexperiences.

What is Neuroexperience?

At Rebel & Soul, we believe neuroexperience is the harmonious marriage of science and event marketing, but what exactly does that mean in practice?

The sciencey part

Well, to kick off, let’s all get a little geeky. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but ‘neuro’ is all about nerves. It’s even from the Greek neur, which means, yes you guessed it, nerves. Those superspeed highways that ping messages from our body to our brain. Touch something hot – whoosh – and the brain pulls away your hand, grimaces your face and has you yelling obscenities at a nearby pot-plant. Smell a freshly-baked croissant – whoosh – your brain tells you that meeting can wait five minutes as you follow your nose into the bakery. 

The human body has almost as many nerve cells as Jeff Bezos has dollar bills, with 85 of the 100 billion of them found in our brains. Neuroscience is dedicated to studying these nerve interactions and how they affect our responses to everyday experiences. 

Now, you may be thinking – ‘I finished school a while back and the memories of biology still haunt me’ (we’ll come to that later) – but here’s the crux: understanding how our brain responds to stimuli is the key to successful marketing. In his 1994 book, The Astonishing Hypothesis, Francis Crick claimed that a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions are simply the products of nerve activity in the brain (and being a Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist who co-discovered the double helix shape of DNA, he might know a thing or two). So, if you’re trying to create positive feelings about your brand, the brain isn’t a bad place to start. 

The experiencey part

Neuroscience flaunts some impressive insights, but insights alone don’t maketh positive memories. You need a vehicle for that and what better than a marketing tactic with a peerless track record of creating long-lasting impressions. Please say a warm welcome to ‘experiences’. 

Marketers have long used experiential events to bring companies to life and forge positive associations with a brand. By immersing your target audience in a memorable, thought-provoking experience, marketing teams not only form a bond between brand and consumer though tangible, real-life interaction, but also connect that experience (the feelings, thoughts and emotions) to the brand in consumers’ minds. For example, the eight million people who watched Red Bull’s Stratos skydive live in 2012 saw a fizzy drink company literally ‘give somebody wings’, enhancing Red Bull’s image as a brand that pushes boundaries and can take you to new heights. 

Unsurprisingly, live events have an edge in the memory market, but they also outperform traditional marketing techniques in terms of value. A 2018 Harvard Business Review paper entitled The Event Marketing Evolution found that event marketing drives 52% more business value than any other marketing channel and that 93% of the surveyed businesses prioritise hosting events. No wonder a third of Chief Marketing Officers plan to devote 21-50% of their budget to experiential marketing efforts over the next few years.

However, despite their evident appeal and effectiveness, it’s only recently that we have learnt  the science behind why events are so unforgettable. 

The definition of neuroexperience

Thanks to technological and scientific advancements, we can now see how our brains respond to certain stimuli and can design interactive events accordingly. In effect, we can harness our knowledge of brain activity to create positive emotions and everlasting memories through incredible experiences. Neuroexperience in a nutshell. 

 

How Neuroexperience works

To make a neuroexperience cocktail, you need five key ingredients: a splash of neuromarketing, a sprig of memories, a dollop of subconscious purchasing, a slice of experiences and a pinch of neurotech. 

1. Neuromarketing

In the late 1990s-early 2000s, a revolution took place that changed the marketing world. Previously, neuroscientists and marketers were not known for moving in the same circles, but when they finally met, it was love at first sight. For the first time, marketing executives were able to use neuroscience techniques to find out what people didn’t know they knew: the subconscious feelings, hidden motivations and deep-rooted preferences that surveys and focus groups couldn’t show them. 

All of a sudden, brands could test their product’s design, packaging and advertising messages against consumer preferences and subsequently change their product’s design, packaging and advertising messages to complement these preferences. Triggering human emotions and seducing the subconscious became the order of the day and some companies (yes, we’re talking about Rebel & Soul) saw the potential in harnessing this new found knowledge of neuromarketing to design tailored experiences that create positive, lasting memories: what we call neuroexperiences. 

2. Memories

Memories and memory-making are at the core of neuroexperience. If you think of the greatest marketing campaigns in history – perhaps Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ or DeBeers’ ‘a diamond is forever’ spring to mind – what they all have in common is that you remembered them. Embedding a brand in consumers’ long-term memory is top of a marketer’s wish list. There’s no point attracting consumers’ attention and making them nod in agreement with your message, if they’re only going to forget the name or purpose of your brand a few minutes later. 

So, how do you ensure your marketing campaign is memorable? Well, firstly, you have to understand how memory works (i.e. why we are still haunted by that biology class, but don’t remember much about physics lessons) and, secondly, how memories are formed. Then, by absorbing the science behind memory-making and combining this knowledge with neuroscience insights, you can specifically design neuroexperiences that are always unforgettable. 

3. Subconscious purchasing

One of the key insights from the neuromarketing revolution was proof that our emotions control our decisions. Unsurprisingly, we prefer products, services and experiences that make us feel good, but we don’t always consciously know what that is. 

So, please put your hands together and give a rousing cheer for the subconscious: the royalty of the neuroexperience world; the guardian of emotions, feelings and behaviour; the decision-maker. Our subconscious organises everything that we don’t focus on, from breathing to smelling to throwing things we like into the supermarket trolley without realising it. What we think of as ‘impulses’ are actually our subconscious making decisions in our best interest as it knows what has previously brought us joy. As such, marketers should be targeting the subconscious if they want to influence consumer behaviour; a tactic at the heart of the neuroexperience model. 

4. Experiences

We are living in the experience era. Gone are the days of rampant materialism – we want experiences that we can share, experiences that make us happy, experiences that create fantastic memories. It should come as no surprise therefore that ‘experience more’ is one of Euromonitor’s eight megatrends for 2030. 

Luckily for marketers, experiences have always been their trump card. The best way to forge close bonds between consumer and brand. The opportunity to instill trust, breed loyalty and improve perception. The chance to bring brands to life and make consumers’ jaws drop. 

Tangible and unique, putting on live events allow brands to create significant, long-lasting impressions on consumers, but only if done correctly. Experiences must be vivid, original and intriguing to capture consumers’ imaginations and stir their emotions. With neuroscientific knowledge, that’s exactly what neuroexperiences do. 

5. Neurotech

Without neurotech, neuroexperiences would still be a figment of marketing imagination; some futuristic sci-fi notion akin to flying cars. Thankfully, neurotech has been readily accessible for the last two decades and the insights it has revealed are nothing short of revolutionary. Through the use of brain scanning, brain imaging, eye-tracking and facial recognition devices (to name just a few), our knowledge of the human mind has never been so profound. 

The world of medicine is the biggest potential winner – Dementia and Alzheimer’s could be consigned to the rubbish heap of history if neurotech advances on its current trajectory – but marketing hasn’t fared badly either. Using neurotechnology to spot what makes our brains sparkle and our mouths go ‘wow’ has allowed us to refine and pinpoint the experiences we offer. No more boring functions. No more tedious publicity stunts. Just exciting, intriguing and memorable neuroexperiences. 

 

Why neuroexperiences are increasingly important

Ultimately, marketers want to make memories. A campaign can have celebrity endorsements, millions in funding and all the bells and whistles of a funfair, but if it isn’t memorable, then what’s the point?

Thanks to neurotech and neuroscientific advancements, we know more about consumer behaviour than ever before. We know more about our subconscious than ever before. We even know how memories are made. From a marketing perspective, this constitutes an open goal and marketers must grab the opportunity with two hands to stay relevant and have an impact. 

In the 1960s, TV was a novel idea. Brands flocked to the small screen as viewers were transfixed. People sat up, took notice and remembered adverts. Now, it’s background noise. 

The internet suffered the same fate. Online marketing has become so saturated that the average Click Through Rate (CTR) of an advert is one in every 2000. Google even admitted that over half of its ads are never actually seen by anyone. 

To cut-through in this overcrowded space, brands not only need to be targeting the subconscious, but creating something new and intriguing that knocks down the door of short-term memory and is welcomed with open arms into the long-term memory party. That’s what neuroexperiences do. 

They are the death knell of shoddy marketing events. A new marketing technique that drives straight at the heart of campaign success by focusing on positive memories. In short, neuroexperiences are the next stage of the marketing revolution. Like the advent of the motorcar or the smartphone, their impact will overshadow the alternatives and soon become the only game in town. 

 

How to get involved?

At Rebel & Soul, we think of ourselves as memory-makers. Working with brands such as Heineken, HSBC and CNN, we design live, interactive neuroexperiences that create positive, long-lasting memories. From ‘money-can’t-buy’ opportunities to experimental immersive events, a Rebel & Soul experience always stirs the senses. 

For example, we devised an ‘Origins of Luxury’ series exclusively for potential HSBC customers. From access to private jets and classic cars to trying on vintage jewellery and limited edition watches, we put on experiences that were otherwise out of reach; experiences that their subconscious craved and wouldn’t forget. 

Meanwhile, our gamified networking event for Dentsu Aegis stood out in Singapore’s saturated networking market. On top of the world-class DJs, bespoke cocktails and A-list celebs, the event enabled guests to use their mobiles to control digital displays and ceiling graphics, whilst interacting with one another. It proved so popular that guests were still trying to play the game at home. 

For forward-thinking brands that want to make a difference, neuroexperiences should be on the top of your to-do list. We use our trademark INVOLVE™ methodology to ensure all our neuroexperiences enchant and beguile attendees. We’ll work with you to discover what makes your audience tick and co-design the perfect experiential activity that lives long in the memory.

Want to make remarkable neuroexperiences together? Get in touch.

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