Pricing is all about the Psychology of Value

Dec 08 2014 Published by neilgains under book review

As Rory Sutherland says on the cover, price is “the most understudied, undervalued and oversimplified subjects in business decision-making”. The Psychology of Price by Leigh Caldwell provides a clear, comprehensive and usable guide to pricing from the perspective of human behavior, and is really the only book of its kind on this topic.

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The Why, What and How of Branding

Aug 31 2014 Published by neilgains under branding

There are many frameworks for developing brand identity, including prisms, onions, pyramids and a multitude of shapes and structures. In Brand esSense I use a simple framework of Why, What and How to think about the different touch points that communicate brand identity, and this is the framework that TapestryWorks use in our Brand esSense® workshops with clients, taking the ideas beyond touch points to consider all relevant elements of brand strategy and execution. This is a powerful and simple way to think about the most important truths of your brand and business.

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The behavioural economics of branding

Apr 24 2013 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

I’ve been intrigued reading about the J.C. Penney debacle. While I think there is a lesson to be learnt about the communication of promotions, I don’t believe the lesson is that simplicity does not work. In fact, J.C. Penney’s strategy of simplifying shopper decision making failed in two fundamental ways. Firstly, the communication of the new strategy was ineffective, making the store proposition more complicated rather than less. Secondly, in many other ways, J.C. Penney made shoppers’ lives more complicated by losing the focus of their brand identity and sending mixed messages to customers about what they stand for. Read more »

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Three Websites that Might Represent the Future of (Quant) Research

Apr 15 2013 Published by neilgains under market research

Reading Research Live’s interview with Steve Phillips (see here) prompted me to think again about the future of market research, and more specifically about customised quantitative research which is the backbone of the majority of global research agencies. Along with two other website’s Zappistore might hold the key to part of the future of market research. Read more »

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Changing Habits

Nov 02 2012 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

In the last blog I discussed how the cognitive biases fall into five main themes or categories (read here). But how do these biases relate to habitual behaviours and more importantly to behavioural change? In fact the biases are mostly influenced by contextual factors and the emotional rewards that we all seek. Read more »

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Understanding SNAPP Judgments

Oct 21 2012 Published by neilgains under behavioural economics

Learning and applying the principles of behavioural economics and the mental shortcuts or biases which we are all prone to can be bewildering and frustrating. When I checked on Wikipedia, there are 173 pages relating to biases of judgement and decision making, including long lists of decision making, belief and behavioural biases, social biases, and memory errors (link below). Similarly, The Visual Guide to Cognitive Biases by the Royal Society for Account Planners (worth reading, link below) lists over 100 different biases. Surely there must be some key principles to these?

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Signs that Matter (Introduction to Semiotics Part 2)

May 14 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“Consumers shop for meaning, not stuff”

Identity matters

The world is full of signs, and our brains constantly use mental shortcuts to simplify and manage the world in all its complexity. Many of these shortcuts are triggered by the signs we see around us in the world as we use our knowledge and experience  to create mental impressions of new experiences. For brands, these interpretations are heavily influenced  by how we perceive category and product identities (characteristics) and once established such identities are hard to disrupt. Read more »

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How Different Are Cultures? (Introduction to Semiotics Part 1)

May 10 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

The colour of culture

Each country (and city) has its own colour and mood, both shaping and reflecting the local culture and behaviours. Colour is packed full of meanings (both obvious and hidden), and is arguably the richest of all the sensory signs in terms of cultural as well as personal symbolism.

As an example, purple is an interesting colour which appears relatively infrequently in nature (a few fruits and vegetables, flowers, fish and gemstones). Purple can mean sophistication, dignity, elegance, creativity, spirituality, mysticism, magic and imagination, along with many other meanings which will be explored in a series of future articles at In the Catholic church, purple is the colour of bishops, rosaries and penitence and until recently it was the colour of mourning in the UK (check out the funeral of George VI). However, the colour is not popular in China, is considered soothing in India, was once prohibited at Japanese weddings, symbolises homosexuality in Mexico (and more recently many other countries) and stands for bravery in the US (Purple Hearts). Read more »

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Asking Questions Without Asking The Question

Apr 20 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

Curiosity has it’s own reasons (Einstein)

The lifeblood of market research is curiosity and curiosity is a great thing in all aspects of life (as Einstein said so eloquently on several occasions). Market researchers are very adept (and trained) to ask lots of questions, but I think we ask far too many and should ask far fewer and be smarter in the way we design research in order to do that. Let me be clear from the start. Asking questions in market research is very often at best a waste of time, and at worst positively misleading. Read more »

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Big Data, Big Changes?

Apr 09 2012 Published by neilgains under market research

What will the entry of Google into market research mean for the industry?

Google Consumer Surveys is a deceptively simple product. Limited questions, simple (and low) pricing, and the promise of focused customer feedback. Other DIY tools such as Survey Monkey (which I use regularly), have not yet gained strong traction, perhaps because they lack the access to consumers that is an important part of an agency’s service. Read more »

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