Changing your Mind

Getting you to change your mind (and thus your behaviour) is the objective of most marketing. But what if it’s the marketers struggling to keep up with our changing minds?

As we multi-task more, we emerge with a weakened sense of identity, finding it hard to empathise with others or concentrate well, warns (Baroness) Susan Greenfield, Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Oxford University. She says that the amount of multi-tasking people carry out in daily life is dramatically affecting the human brain.

Neuromarketing author Martin Lindstrom agrees: “Our brains are rewiring themselves because of multi-tasking, so the new younger generation are in fact more able to multi-task than older generations. This isn’t because they have trained themselves to do it, it’s because the brain is literally redesigning itself around the fact they are multi-tasking from birth.”

Greenfield explains that the human brain and short-term memory can only cope with a limited amount of input: Advertising messages on TV and billboards have been replaced with multiple channels – social networks, email, websites and face-to-face communication. Everything is scrambling for our attention, but according to Greenfield we can only cope with so much.

For marketers, achieving cut-through in a multi-tasking, social media age will increasingly involve understanding the consumer’s sense of identity. Brands that feed consumers’ desire for individual acknowledgement will seem more interesting and thereby gain an unfair share of attention.

Individual interaction then becomes the key to being relevant to the younger generation. Back to Greenfield: “Brands will need to make you feel wanted, important and individual. Goods or services that help people be creative, do something that no one else has done, or join the dots up in a new way, will be very powerful as they give people a sense of uniqueness. Just as we adapt to the environment, the environment drives what’s happening to the brain and will create different needs and motivations.”