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Using implicit methods to develop an objective measure of media brand engagement

Vol. 56 No. 1, 2014 p.15–32

Gemma Calvert, Eamon Fulcher, Geraldine Fulcher, Pauline Foster and Helen Rose

Traditional market research methods that rely on explicit respondent feedback, such as focus groups or surveys, often fail to detect the deep-seated, often subconscious, emotions towards brands that reside in consumers’ minds. Recently, there has been considerable interest in the ability of well-established psychological tests that capture people’s implicit responses using speeded reaction time paradigms to tap in to these subconscious associations. In this paper, we describe the use of an adapted semantic priming paradigm to measure the strength of implicit consumer associations between a range of psychological attributes and competitor brands within this media category. The study was conducted online across ten countries and, within each country, against nine relevant competitive brands of the MTV channel. Analysis of the resulting implicit dataset revealed large statistical differences between brands in terms of consumers’ subconscious feelings that were not captured by previous explicit research methodologies into consumer brand engagement. This study clearly demonstrates the power and usefulness of combining implicit and explicit online research data to gain maximum understanding of consumers’ true feelings about brands.


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