First Impressions Really Matter
Published on: July 18 2018

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We know First Impressions matter – does your Market Research testing really measure them? I am very excited now to be working with CloudArmy – a Market Research online platform revolutionising the way companies are able to understand their consumers, customers and employees at a deeper, nonconscious emotional level.

During many years working in P&G R&D, I had strived to develop methods to understand how consumers reacted emotionally to packaging and products.  We explored using types of questionnaires (e.g. semantic differential scales and non-verbal self-reporting).  We observed and recorded consumers interacting with our products.  We asked consumers to write about their experiences.  We understood where they were looking and we probed to understand why, why, why.  We explored biometric, psychometric and neurometric measures to reveal more.

Since leaving P&G I have seen the power of Implicit (nonconscious testing) in revealing deeper insights, particularly for new, hard-to-measure areas.  To be clear, I am not advocating throwing away years of research--rather, I am encouraging use of Implicit as an additional, complimentary but different measure.

Think of First Impressions – the first time you meet someone, or the first time you see or hear about a new product or experience.  In a world where we are time-starved, our first impressions matter even more. 

As on dating sites where people are now dismissed with the swipe of a finger, many purchasing decisions are now made quickly and with little deliberation.

Media & advertising companies struggle to reach consumers as they flick through their multi-channels, looking for something to grab their attention.  The double whammy is to reach teenagers with low attention spans and “Always On” communication devices.

Traditional market research tools such as questionnaires ask consumers to rationalise, to think through their responses and make judgements.  Kahneman describes this as System 2 thinking.  Qualitative observational in depth 1 on 1’s can reveal deeper insights, but are these insights specific to that consumer or more broadly applicable?  Focus groups can reveal new insights but these will also tend to be rationalised responses subject to social concerns about how people think the group or the facilitator is perceiving them.  The key challenge to understand First Impressions is to access System 1 thinking.

This is where online Implicit Response Testing can really help by being:

Scalable – it requires no special lab equipment or expertise

Easy to use – testing is cloud based and panellist testing can be done on PC or mobile

Flexible – it can be applied to most business categories and can address multiple challenges

Cost effective and reliable – typical online tests use n=200 panellists per group/breakout

Innovative, forward-thinking design agencies have embraced Implicit testing as a means to screen ideas and to determine whether different design routes fit with brand.  Doing this early in the design process actually speeds up their Innovation and supports agile decisions.  Instead of spending time aligning with the client on which route to pursue, the “feelings” of the consumer are brought in early and often to help make decisions quickly.  Design agencies have also used CloudArmy attribution testing to determine which distinctive assets are uniquely owned by a brand and which are more generic for the category.

FMCG end clients have been using Implicit to determine which claims and benefit statements really resonate with consumers.  The same approach also works for evaluating point of sale claims.  Marketers are excited about understanding how consumers really feel about their new concepts and propositions.

Some of the most exciting possibilities are in the area of understanding Trust.  In particular, Financial Services, Dating sites and also Human Resources have expressed interest in this area.  Instead of filling in standard System 2 questionnaires where you don’t fully understand consumers’ impressions, Implicit testing can tell you how consumers, employees, or potential dates really feel.

If you would like to discuss your specific challenges then please send me an email  at