Will Leach on behavioral research and mind states

Will Leach of the Mindstate Group, a behavioral research and brand consultancy, and best-selling author of Marketing to Mindstates: The practical guide to applying behavioral desire to research and marketing, joined our podcast to talk with us about behavioral research, or subconscious mind state research. Will started out by giving us a peek into his interesting background. Although he’s been in the market research industry for 25 years, he actually started out in the army. He became interested in the insights field when he took a marketing research class in college and became fascinated with human behavior. He’s worked on the client and agency side, using several methodologies including neuroscience. He dove in a read everything he could get his hands on about behavioral sciences. Soon he started his own business, and for the last 10+ years has been focusing on understanding the non-conscious drivers of human behavior and helping companies use those factors to optimize their marketing.

Will spoke with us about the world of behavioral sciences and its significance for market research – plus how the kinds of insights this approach uncovers can result in exponential growth for brands. He talks about what he calls a “mind state” or that moment in time when a person makes a decision – and all the context and influencers that surround that in-the-moment decision such as emotion, wants, needs, desires, preferences, environment, a person’s biology, physiology, sociology and more. He talks about how to understand mind states from a research technique standpoint, and how methodologies surrounding this has evolved over time, including the use of unstructured data and artificial intelligence.

Understanding this data, Will says can help brands hit the right message with their marketing and “maximize the potential of your brand.” He dives into the concept of “brand restaging”, something which became more important over the last two year due to global upheavals that cause widespread, dramatic behavioral changes. Restaging a brand can be “altering its image, personality or perception in the minds of customers. It’s a way of retargeting your customers by modifying what you mean to that customer; using behavioral sciences really understanding their aspirational goals and their motivations. Giving your brand a makeover can make it much more appealing and relevant to the people that you are trying to target.” He also shared a couple examples of brands that have done this well.

The discussion continued with a more detailed definition of behavioral science, and its evolving role in consumer insights and understanding. As an insights professional, Will believes it is hard to prove value if you can’t truly understand human behavior and use data to change that behavior and guide a brand to meet its goals. Behavioral sciences can help achieve this, and it – along with agile research – is taking a larger role in the market research space recently.

He touches a bit on the future of the industry, including generative AI’s role in both market research and marketing. Also, Will believes that because of all the data we have at our fingertips insights professionals are uniquely qualified to put that data into action. In the future, he says, “I want to be able to hit a button and takes all this data and all this psychology puts it all together, launches that ad the next day and creates revenue growth.”

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