What is Forensic Marketing?

As marketers, we are tasked with getting into the hearts, minds and ultimately, the pocketbook of the consumer.  This is always a challenge and despite all of the market research that is done in the world, we still find it difficult to accomplish this simple task of understanding and interpreting what a consumer is thinking, feeling and wants.  Over the past twenty years I have practiced many different methods to uncover and identify the clues that lead to a successful consumer insight.  It is through the many projects and and this painful process that I realized the importance of treating each occasion like a criminal case.  Gathering the facts, making the connections and ultimately presenting the case for the insights to the company I was working or an external customer who were always much more harsh than a jury.  Like a trial lawyer, as marketers we need to use all of the tools available to us to create this case, but also understand the background that each juror possesses in order to best connect these facts to the case.

Forensics by definition is the usage of science and technology to investigate and establish facts of interest in relation to criminal or civil law.  I am not a lawyer, but marketing is all about building a case for your product or brand.  By digging deep into the data that is available, observing the marketplace and understanding what’s in the hearts and minds of the jury, or in this case consumer, we are able to establish a case that connects with their needs and wants, discovers their disappointments and provides them with a sensible solution to satisfy their conscious and sub-conscious desires.

In today’s fast paced, digital world we have never before been exposed to so many technological ways to communicate and track the behavior of consumers.  We are a society that has embraced these platforms and created a new generation of family that shares their experiences, their behaviors and ultimately their lives on the internet for the world to read and interact with.  We have built forums, chat boards and communities that are looking to tell us their deepest secrets and disappointments about anything from a new car purchase to their latest skin rash.  By utilizing these new technology platforms we can learn the deep-seeded and emotional attachments that consumers are making with products and brands.

Not only is technology changing the way that we look at consumers, but new technological methods have made these feelings traceable and quantifiable.  Market researchers are looking into the deep parts of the brain through neuromarketing, getting into their homes with mobile ethnography and cultural anthropology and into their minds thru social listening to discover and track how we react to different stimuli.  

Neuromarketers have stated that we make around 80% of all decisions in the sub-conscious.  This reptilian or paleomammelian part of the neocortex is responsible for emotions, olfaction and decision making.  Simply put, as humans, we are very emotional creatures that tend to make decisions with our hearts and not our head so it is critical to connect with this part of the brain to get real responses when decisions need to be made and understand the most critical factors that impact that decision based on the situation.  As reaserchers, we know consumers are famous for saying one thing and doing another, so connecting at this deeper level is one area that separates forensic marketing from the traditional methods that have been practiced in the past.

This type of deep cultural understanding and scientific approach to marketing combined with modern technological tools like the internet and mobile devices allows us to understand consumers at a much deeper and truer level than in the past.

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