Implicit Response Testing
One way in which Populus is able to offer crucial insight into how brands are perceived by the public is through our use of implicit testing. This methodology, a variant of which won the MRS Operations Award for Best Data Solution in 2016, makes use of respondents’ unconscious reactions to engage not only with how they feel about particular brands, but also the strength of that feeling. This is useful, for example, in gauging the public’s feelings towards leading confectionery brands, as demonstrated below. It is an important juncture for these brands, with initial responses to the sugar tax having been positive, and with Populus research demonstrating some willingness on the part of MPs to introduce a tax on chocolate/confectionery – only fractionally more (41% to 39%) believe such a tax would be unacceptable than acceptable.
How does Implicit Response Testing work?
The principle behind implicit research is that we ask respondents to give their immediate reactions to a brand or concept, and the speed of their response indicates the strength of their implicit reaction.
In conjunction with Dr Alistair Goode, Populus has devised a test that provides a picture of views which are not consciously held, but nevertheless inform people’s choices, by accessing their system 1 responses.
First of all we introduce the concept of the subject we wish to test through a series of adjectives and their antonyms. In the example below, we test various confectionary brands; however, this methodology is equally applicable to products, logos, advertising campaigns or industries as a whole. This methodology is particularly useful where there is a ‘socially acceptable’ response to the questions we want to ask.
From this, we deduce not only the unconscious feelings people hold about products and brands, but also the strength of those feelings. This gives us a two dimensional output, as seen in the examples below.
What does it look like?
Implicit testing allows us to create a two-dimensional metric of people’s perceptions of confectionary brands, with people’s likelihood of associating a particular attribute with a brand on one axis, and the strength of this feeling on the other. From the graphs below about four brands (Thorntons, Cadbury, Hotel Chocolat and Lindt), we can see, for example, that:
While the overall picture for all four brands is positive, Populus’s research provides an additional level of detail. This allows companies to focus their resources on areas of their brand where the potential return on investment is greatest. They can then compare the public’s perception with internal brand aspirations at a more precise level of detail.
Populus’s award-winning implicit response research has been developed and refined alongside behavioural psychology experts. For more information, or to find out how your business could benefit from this innovative tool, contact Populus via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44  207 253 9900
Populus interviewed 2,090 UK adults (18+) in a nationally representative online survey between 27 and 29 April 2018. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk