Innovation in advertising

Advertising is rapidly evolving all the time. Knowing how brands are perceived is vital to combating the ever increasing noise of advertising.

Populus has successfully used Implicit Testing to understand not only how respondents unconsciously engage with brands (and advertising), but also the strength of that feeling too.

How does it work?

Implicit research captures respondents’ immediate reactions to brands or advertising concepts, simultaneously measuring the speed of their response. This indicates the strength of feeling.

In psychology, and behavioural economics, the term ‘implicit research’ describes research approaches that are able to bypass people’s rational, conscious thoughts (which feed into ‘system 2’ decision making) and assess their automatic (‘system 1’) attitudes and reactions.

Instead, system 2 decision making is generally reserved for big decisions about which we are prepared to spend a lot of attention (whether to change career, which university to attend etc.)

System 1 responses dictate everything from how we feel about an advert to what we buy in a supermarket – a decision influenced by a range of factors and distinctive assets discussed in the article.

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.

What does it look like?

Populus has previously delivered insight and expertise on a range of issues affecting the confectionery industry, such as MPs’ views on the sugar levy, and public views on food labelling.

Implicit testing allows us to create a two-dimensional metric of people’s perceptions of confectionery 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:




Hotel Chocolat


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 or by calling +44 [0] 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