Duncan Thomas, CEO and Head of Innovation at Pomegranate Media, discusses the dark practices of neuromarketing, why it’s a problem, and how psychological research can instead be used to help customers make ethical purchases.
It’s no secret that countless corporations use unethical, manipulative practices to influence their customers and alter their consumption habits to ultimately spend more. This is often achieved through the sabotage of our biases and heuristics. For example, video games often track user interaction in such meticulous depth that they know the exact point at which players might be willing to spend real money on microtransactions or paywalls.
Hacking the Brain
However, a study of the brain can also be used for good. At Pomegranate Media, the behavioural experience agency, Duncan and his team regularly examine the brain activity of consumers to understand why and how we make the decisions we do on a scientific, neurological level. Our podcast explores some of their key projects and findings, showing how to hack the brain for good.
To discover more and learn how neuroscience and behavioural psychology can be used to transform customer experiences, check out our full episode with Duncan – available on all your favourite channels. Now including YouTube!
This article summarises podcast episode 82 “How Neuroscience Can Transform Customer Journeys” recorded by CX Insider. For more information, listen to the episode, or contact Duncan on his LinkedIn profile.
Written by Marcell Debreceni
Full Episode Transcript
Duncan: Unfortunately, I think we’re still to a good degree, we’re of a mindset that the value, the quality of the product comes first. And if I can actually get a do-good factor as well, that’s a bonus, right? And we’ve done some interesting studies on we were looking at eco fuels and things before. And again, the company behind it was everyone wants to be more environmentally friendly. They’re willing to pay more for, you know, reduce carbon emissions, etc. And then actually when we did the research, the reality was even a penny more per gallon. Wow. People wouldn’t spend.
Adam: That’s what I wanted to know.
Duncan: Good for the environment. But yeah.
Adam: Okay, I was going to say that. So you’re buying the same product from two different online retailers, and one of them was £2 more, but they were going to plant ten trees. Yeah. You’re saying that people are still in the mindset to buy the one that’s £2 less.
Marcell: Hey, everyone, welcome to the first official episode of CX Insider in 2023. With me, your new host, Marcell. Today we talked to Duncan Thomas, the CEO and head of innovation at Pomegranate, a behavioural experience agency using neuroscience to construct meaningful customer journeys in more ethical ways. In this episode, we discussed the dark practices of neuromarketing, how technology is shaping consumer behaviour, and what strategies customer experience agents can expect to employ soon. Unfortunately, we had some audio difficulties in the recording’s first few minutes, but they normalized very quickly. So enjoy the episode. And if you do, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel for access to the Best Content Insider has to offer? By the way, this podcast is brought to you by ACF Technologies, Global Leaders in Customer Experience Management Solutions.
Duncan: So yeah, I’m head of innovation at Pomegranate. And my job really is about bringing in sort of new advances in methodology sciences technologies into the world of user experience and digital experience development.
Marcell: That’s a lot of big words.
Duncan: I’m going to turn that down a bit more.
Adam: No, no, that’s perfectly fine. You’ll have to explain what they all mean, though.
Duncan: Okay. I can do a bit of explanation for you. So what are we looking at? Let’s break that. Break that down. Okay. User experience. So in the world of digital experience, when you are working on an application when you’re working on you’re looking at a website, you’re buying something from a website, we design the journeys of you going from landing off that advert in Google right the way through to the website, and then how we navigate you through to that purchase at the other end of it and making sure that it’s as exciting as it possibly can be so that you become a definite customer and not just a browser. That’s the sort of science that we put.
Marcell: And so you have your own dedicated labs and everything.
Duncan: We do have our own dedicated labs. Yeah. So this is a big part of the science that we’ve moved into, which is behavioural science. So as we know, lots of websites have got great quality technology now. It’s all built on brilliant features and functions. You combine your Shopify and things and they’ll bring it out of the box. But the problem with that is lack of competition because then everybody looks the same. How do you differentiate? And this is where we’ve moved into behavioural science to change and get deeper in understanding what people actually need, how we segment audiences into much smaller groups so that we can understand what actually makes them tick, what makes them excited, what stimulates them a hell of a lot more.
Adam: So, Duncan, you mentioned behavioural science and that is what you guys do in terms of… sorting out that digital journey and it’s almost as if it was like an epiphany. How did you come to that epiphany?
Duncan: Epiphany… Very strong word.
Adam: I know. Googled it this morning.
Duncan: Actually, no. In all honesty. So I’d been in the world of brand strategy. We used a lot of things like ethnography and psychology. But in the Agency of Pomegranate, we were doing a big project for a venture capital company that wanted us to understand why were people spending so much money on social games. Mm-hmm. This is just virtual goods. You get nothing for it. So we did a big investigation, and we started to get very deep into the psychology and the behaviours that were happening in these social games. What makes people spend up to sort of 500 bucks?
Adam: You mean like in-game purchases.
Duncan: Purchases, in-game purchases.
Adam: Virtual currencies, games, v-bucks and that kind of stuff.
Duncan: That’s exactly it, right? And back in the day, it was simple games like Farmville and stuff that were investigating. People would be spending up to $500 a day on this stuff. And what we basically ended up understanding is we were able to model the fundamentals of addiction in these games because of understanding the behaviour, and knowing what’s happening psychologically. We could look at when to present a paywall. We could look at different genders, different age groups and how long they’d spend, what were the different stimulation points within a game. And that’s basically where the epiphany came from. I realized that digital experience, the way that we were doing it just from good technology features and functions, was going to die. There was going to be an endpoint where we needed to transcend that, get into much more complex and get closer to what humans wanted and how we were going to break down the barriers between humans and digital a lot more. So that was where the epiphany came from.
Marcell: And then where did you go from there?
Duncan: Oh… New York! Where do we go from there? So from that point, then we started to look at all the problems that we’d had, you know, in designing digital for clients previously, where we’d made assumptions, where they couldn’t measure things, and we started to map and develop a whole framework around behavioural science to say, how could it answer these problems? What can we do differently now to change the way that we understand people? How can we research and analyse people’s behaviours more effectively within digital experiences? So that’s what opened our eyes to the sort of labs. We started working with a couple of great universities as well, like Bristol University, our experimental psychology division, to start to connect digital metrics and data to human behaviours so we could develop patterns and we could also develop a framework of analysis. So when we’re designing, we can properly look at what’s really happening. We can move it up to emotional stimulation. And this is one of the things that drives me a little bit nuts at the moment. You’ll see a lot of companies talk about behavioural analysis and they’re just measuring click data, basically interaction data. Someone clicks from there to there, how long do they spend there? And they call that behavioural analysis. No emotion, no emotion. And where’s the behaviour? It’s just it’s that’s the fundamentals. We’re seeing what’s happening, not why it’s happening. And what behaviour gets you into is why things are happening. And we do things like driver modelling. So where you can take people’s motivations, and their influences, and turn them into measures of what drives them to do things, and what will detract them from wanting to do things. So that’s sort of the framework in the foundations that we developed.
Marcell: Let’s address the elephant in the room. Implementing strategies for customer experience based on behavioural psychology clearly comes with the question mark of ethicality. It’s widely known that large corporations often use unethical practices like dark marketing tactics to nudge society towards certain purchasing and lifestyle decisions, whether the consumer is aware or approves or not. But speaking to an expert on the topic, what are some of the negative things that he’s seen and experienced regarding psychological exploitation for a company’s gain? And why is it such a big problem?
Duncan: As you say, there’s a lot of sort of there’s a lot of negative user experience mechanics still in play. People are becoming more aware of them. So the simple thing is when you go to book a hotel, there are 20 other people looking at it. Yeah. When you want to go and fill out a form and they’re saying, Look, you’ve got one minute to complete this, so you’ve got to start the whole thing all over again. So these sorts of these negative pressures that they put on you. And in the world of advertising, we’ve been using things like behavioural economics. So nudges how we can sort of get you to compute. Usually, you’ll see three options knowing that you want to drive an individual to the middle option. There’s all these sort of little techniques that we use. So that’s seeing the start of the unethical. And then even in social media, you’re seeing a lot of this happening now from the Tiktoks to the Instagrams, how you’ve got continuous scroll feeds, how you’re so engaged and then it starts to impact on our biases, the things we’ve now invested so much time, we can’t come out of this. We’ve got to complete, we’ve got to succeed. We’ve got to do something. And I need to feel good. I need to get as many likes as somebody else.
Duncan: So those are sort of a lot of the negatives. And our objective is how can we start to move it into much more positive development. So instead of manipulation, we talk about encouragement and influence, and that’s a key part again, of getting deeper into the sort of the behavioural understanding of things, because we can look at how can we positively engage people through learning and development, through education. So for example, even a grocery shop online, it’s a fairly monotonous experience, especially if you know what you’re after. But actually you can educate people, you know, little what we call Easter eggs stimulation. On where did that product come from, What have I learnt about better eating, health, environment, etc. whilst I’m doing even a grocery shop for example. So it’s moving people up. This is what we call the hierarchy of needs, just out of this transactional functional way of doing things. And people want more, they want more. Now we talk about experiences in every other walk of life, and it’s the same with digital. We don’t just want a transactional interaction. Why don’t we experience something? We want to get closer to the brand, We believe in it. Do we trust it? Has it added more value to my life?
Adam: Very good point.
Duncan: Thanks. Thanks. Powerful. We should record that.
Marcell: So Duncan has briefly touched on how pomegranate used neuroscientific practices to build more ethical customer journeys and place a focus on positive behavioural engagement instead. Let’s take a deeper dive now into their strategy and learn how the agency’s design process makes a difference.
Duncan: So a little bit I just talked about, yeah, obviously seen in terms of how we look at reversing negative pressures and what we call dark UX techniques, you know, high-pressure influences. So now it’s about the sort of more worldly wise experiences. So for example, a great case study we did for a rather large credit car company was saying instead of what we call intrinsic and extrinsic motivation And simply intrinsic is what feels good. What makes me feel better is that I’m developing or doing something good. Extrinsic is material things. I win, I get material things. So we look at this intrinsic and extrinsic rewarding. And for this credit card company we looked at, instead of just giving points means prizes. We looked at okay, points could mean doing something better for my environment, for my world. And it was a test, a loyalty test to see if we could improve the engagement of customers in a positive way for this particular credit card. So first of all, it was about, you know, the more communication I did with this company, the more points I’d get. Now, I could still redeem it against mobile phones, technology, headphones.
Adam: When you say communication, you mean spending money on the credit card.
Duncan: Spending money on the credit card or reading their communications.
Duncan: People were reading opportunities, you know, new products, things like that. I would gain a range of points for all sorts of different interactions. So there we looked at, yes, they gave away all the sort of the tech options, but also you could accumulate your points for doing things, interacting with the company, being a good loyal customer. But they could you could then transform that into money. Now, money that you could spend on a charitable donation and we picked sort of five different operations. So there were some internationals, I think we had the Philippines and Haiti, and then we had some very local ones again. So people had the choice, the autonomy of choice as to whether they wanted to invest it. And then the things that we learned is you get more engaged, the more input and interaction you can have with your donation. Don’t just say I’ve just thrown money out of charity. I don’t know what happens to it, where it goes. So you put a next layer. You could choose between whether it was education, whether it was utilities, and then you could choose a final layer. If it was education, you could choose where it was teachers or books or something. And what we found was that different types of people would get deeper and deeper in terms of their involvement in how they used their points.
Duncan: So instead of now just I’m spending on my credit card, I get some points, doesn’t really mean anything. Now, we started to connect it to something much more meaningful and they could interact with the communities once a month. They could actually go online and see these communities talking about the impact that’s made. Now, what did that mean? Back to the credit card when we had tested about 500 people and originally we were told, yeah, society’s too selfish to do this type of thing, right? But actually when we did that test and we gave them the option, we flashed up the option of three other different companies, credit card companies that were going to give them far better off offers cashback rewards, better gifts, rewards. And more than 72% of those people chose to stick with this credit card because it had suddenly become an emotional engagement. No longer is it transactional. Now I got an emotional attachment. This credit card has given has been a conduit for me doing something better for my life and better for the world and the environment. No longer is it just one of those simple transactional relationships. So that’s sort of a deeper long-winded example.
Adam: That’s good.
Marcell: So you found that people really do value intrinsic value more.
Duncan: They are. And I think we’re told, you know, a lot of research is showing younger generations, particularly because they can’t afford so much at the moment. The cost of living and everything else is happening. They can’t afford so much of the material things. So that’s about exploring it as real-world experiences. And also there’s a real value of them wanting to do things back for their communities, their environment, the world, climate, etc. So they want to have that sort of that balance. And it’s a lot more important for younger generations now than I think it has ever been.
Marcell: So business is going well for you then?
Duncan: Well, I mean, you know. That’s a great question because the issue is doing something that’s relatively leading edge with behavioural science. It’s taken us quite a long time for the world, the markets, and businesses to sort of catch up with what we’re doing or to see the real value in it. And, you know, so often people are very entrenched in certain ways of working and certain, you know, they just expect sort of functional things. They need to get it out fast. There’s all those time pressures and money pressures rather than actually wanting to invest in a little bit of deeper, deeper knowledge and something a little bit more progressive. It’s a bit risky, as they would say. So it’s taken a while to build up to this, but now the world is coming around because now what we’ve got is a lot of companies who are saying, Right, okay, we’re struggling. We can ab test forever and a day and we can’t quite determine what’s the right way to go. We’re spending a fortune on all this testing, but actually what are our measures to say this is the right thing? So now they’re looking for new doors to open and behaviour is suddenly saying, okay, actually we can look at our whole experience from a completely different dynamic, and that is from the customer experience level, right the way down to the device level user experience.
Marcell: Pomegranate worked closely with businesses to redesign their customer journeys, but how much influence do they have on the service aspect? Do their solutions also re-imagine customer service in later interactions and how?
Duncan: That’s a brilliant question because actually it probably accounts for maybe a quarter of our work is all about sort of service development. Now we work with a couple of sort of big white goods manufacturers where we did exactly that, redeveloped the complete service experience where again, it’s looking at different ways. So rather than this sort of this very linear approach where I’d make a complaint, I’ll expect a response and they’ll solve it in one of two ways. It’s now looking at this, this more holistic way of getting where service can work from different behaviours, from different customer segments, from different pain points, and you’re needing to build a service infrastructure that can accommodate all sorts of attitudes, mindsets from a distressed position person to somebody who’s just risk averse and they’re actually just trying to get things prepared, organize it, something that’s gone wrong. They’re not in a panic to a young mum who’s got her washing machine has just broken down and she’s got three kids screaming. Yeah, different ways that I need to be serviced and supported and also how the brand, you know, again, it’s the feel-good factor of the brand really care or now I’ve bought the product and it comes down to service and they’re doing nothing for me. And all of that big promise at the beginning has fallen apart. Yeah. So if that doesn’t stack up, then I’m never going to buy again. And actually the danger is now if my service experience is not really well constructed, I will go viral about that. It’s too easy. One comment that goes down on Twitter goes across the social media. Right? Everyone reads this stuff. Now. You can’t afford to have a bad service experience, and that’s becoming more important as we’re seeing for purchasing than anything else. It’s one of the first points of review. How well have you been supported? How much trust can I put in that service promise? Okay, now I’ll buy the product.
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Adam: The thing is what I always believe with consumers nowadays we seem to be we’re impatient. We’re also very well educated because we’ve got access to information, haven’t we? Do you want to buy a washing machine? You’re that single mum with three kids screaming. You want to buy a washing machine. You can go on a or you can go and Currys, you can go on Amazon and you can look at reviews, you can go on YouTube, all of those kinds of stuff. So it’s fair to say that people are generally educated on what they’re buying and the prices are all published. And then if you’re saying you’ve then got a digital experience of buying it, and as long as that is easy, yeah, I suppose the importance then of the customer service side, if it does go wrong, is probably more because you could just end up with a poisoned view of a brand. And that’s the main thing now isn’t it, If you have a bad brand experience, yeah, you can just bash it. You could just, you could.
Duncan: Well, you’re right and it’s bad, but it’s even that start point, as we’ve learned, there’s so many micro components of that first purchase journey. So as you said, it can be easy, but easy. It’s replicable. Everyone is trying to drive for the easiest. Where is the additional stimulation? When I’m looking at things, when I’m reading things, we have these biases in our heads like an affirmation bias. I go to insurance or I go to buy my washing machine. I don’t even absorb half the information because I know what to expect. I’ve done this before so I don’t absorb it. So we have to look at things from onboarding, how you start to seed a different pattern, disrupt around the brand. So suddenly it’s okay, this is a bit different. I’m going to read this. I’m going to take this a little bit more information in. And it’s the way for the brand to start to seed a different relationship that goes right through to purchase. But they’re delivering that consistency of promise, building that trust through every step of my journey to purchase. And then it’s got to be really consolidated through my service experience.
Adam: You said, Daddy, are you busy? Is it a good time for business? And actually, it sounds like it almost certainly should be with sustainability. One of the things that we’ve seen on a digital journey is people having the ability to choose the least amount of CO two. Do you think that people actually care about this now more than they’ve ever done with actually buying something or does depend on the product? I mean, I just want to get your views on it, really.
Duncan: I think it’s a really interesting one, and I think it’s seriously contentious. I mean, as you guys have probably seen, you know, the amount of times you can buy something now and they’ll say, well, you can plug in an extra ten trees planted for this and everyone’s jumping on the trees. Exactly. Trees everywhere. Unfortunately, I think, you know, we’re still to a good degree, we’re of a mindset that the value, the quality of the product comes first. And if I can actually get a do-good factor as well, that’s a bonus, right? I mean, we’ve done some interesting studies on we were looking at eco fuels and things before. And again, the company behind it was everyone wants to be more environmentally friendly. They’re willing to pay more for, you know, reduce carbon emissions, etc. And then actually, when we did the research, the reality was even a penny more per gallon. Wow. People wouldn’t spend.
Adam: That’s what I wanted to know.
Duncan: Good for the environment. But yeah.
Adam: Okay, I was going to say that. So if you’re buying the same product from two different online retailers and one of them was £2 more, but they were going to plant ten trees. Yeah. You’re saying that still, people are still in the mindset that by the way, that’s £2 less. Yeah.
Duncan: Yeah. I mean I don’t want to tire the whole…
Adam: No, no, no.
Duncan: Society with it, but you know we’re growing towards it. But there’s got to be this sort of this, this combined reciprocal value aspect of it and I need to see value. And I think the other thing is trust, because there’s this risk of, you know, the term of greenwashing. Yeah, now everyone wants to get under the skin of it. It’s like, don’t just tell me you’re planting trees. Where? Yeah, show me. They’re actually growing. Absolutely. Give me something back. Because as you said, people scrutinize so much more now.
Adam: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. 100%.
Marcell: As technology has evolved, has Duncan seen any major changes or shifts in consumer psychology and how have those changes impacted what makes a winning strategy today?
Duncan: Well, it’s definitely changed. I mean, as we talk about patience, number one, and to a degree sort of laziness, we’re expecting things to be easier, to be simpler, to add value to my life. And also now, you know, we become quite faddish about things as well, so keeping it fresh, keeping it exciting because only a click away to find something new and something new is coming out every day and every week. You know, the behaviours we’ve seen. Come back to a little bit of your sustainability point where people are actually wanting to, first of all, have more of an experience and secondly they want to have something that transcends more from just pure selfishness. They like the idea that they actually can combine it with doing something good out there in the world at the same time. And I think that is the shift this want for experience, which means again, I will get bored of transactional experiences unless I’m getting additional stimulation unless this is what I’m doing this interaction by clicking through my purchasing this. If I’m not buying into something bigger, if I’m not gaining something more valuable for myself, then I’ll get bored and then I’ll go searching and hunting.
Duncan: I mean, you know, look, you’ve got search engines now that actually talk about for all the searches that they are planting trees and they’re talking about it in the millions, you’ve got, you know, social media, where the more interactions you’re having, the more they’re putting back into community services. You’ve got you know, there’s lots of these fusions happening now where the experience is beyond just simply that moment in time, but you’re doing your inputting to something bigger. So I think that’s the shift. I mean, again, for us, the big shift has been moving away from just, you know, simply understanding linear journeys and touchpoints and interactions to now moving it into emotions, understanding what creates anxiety, what creates excitement and stimulation, being able to measure that, to make sure we can build that in. You know, we’ve learned how to design journeys now a lot of it comes from the gaming world. You know you don’t just do a flat line because.
Adam: You get those linear games.
Duncan: There’s challenges, you know.
Adam: So Sonic, Sonic the Hedgehog and stuff are there for it. Yeah, But yeah.
Duncan: Even that. You know, because the game designers have really brought us something quite useful because they, you know, create a stress level. You’ve got to have achieved something then simplify for a little bit, then take it up to another level. You know, in the old days we call it boss games and boss level and things where you’ve got a challenge, you’ve got competition, you’ve got something more.
Adam: But now people can just uninstall and just download another game. Whereas when I was younger, your mum and dad buy you, you know, your mega drive game and they spent 40 quid on it. It doesn’t matter if you get stuck on a level, you got to stick to it.
Marcell: Yeah. You know, as social media and Web 2.0 came, people have become more impatient with things like instant gratification. But you talk about how people seek more rewarding experiences. Do you think that consumer psychology will evolve much further with the metaverse, or how do you see that changing now?
Duncan: I think that’s a really interesting question. And it’s you know, it’s one to put a big question mark over at the moment. I think there’s a number of different aspects with the metaverse, if we use it correctly, we have a lot of hindsight from where social media went wrong and it’s taking people down negative avenues and what sort of negative psychologies come from it. So we should be able to learn from that before we really head into metaverse. But you’re right, it’s going to be a whole new level of behaviour. I mean, at the moment we’re doing some investigations into what will be the next version of a car dealership, because, again, they rely on, you know, all sorts of different sensory sciences, the smells, the great customer service, the give me the coffee, the salesperson looking and understanding. Now, if I’m going to have complete control of that myself and I’m going to manage that within my augmented environment or my virtual environment, it’s like, what do they lose? How can they still bring in those elements back?
Adam: Good point.
Duncan: How do we break down in a positive way these divisions between human and digital, how do we bring in the right sort of behaviours and we don’t start moving people into these sort of zombie-like approaches? I guess where and that is the worry again from gaming, the more we’ve gone into a sort of the quests and starting to use virtual reality and it’s like how do you differentiate? You start to separate your real world from your virtual world. It gets, you know, so there’s a lot of interesting behaviour, things.
Adam: We’ll all believe we’re avatars.
Duncan: Yeah, yeah. It’s scary because then, you know, you’ve just played a Spider-Man game and you suddenly walk out. It’s like, I can’t be asked. Waiting for the traffic in the car. Try to climb the wall. Oh, no, I forgot. Oh, no, I was actually… It’s a lot more difficult than I thought.
Marcell: So there’s a lot to explore there.
Duncan: There is a lot to explore. There’s a lot to understand. We’ve got a lot of hindsight if we use it properly. But I think also there’s going to be some, you know, some potentially risky things that come out of it. And again, they talk about the decentralised world in the metaverse. And I think that’s going to be really important. But there’s going to be some need to be some degrees of policing because you’re going to have all the lovely pink, fluffy, nice stuff at the top and then we’re going to have some very dark environments created underneath.
Adam: Yeah, without a doubt.
Marcell: Now, Duncan has explored multiple cases of his work demonstrating how behavioural psychology can be applied to create and boost customer journeys more effectively across a wide range of different organisations. Which begs the question, is there any one thing he’s observed to be absolutely vital for a satisfying, positive customer experience regardless of context?
Duncan: I think it does come back to the beginning where I said actually the simplest, most logical change and breakthrough that we’ve made is when you understand behaviours, it flips everything on its head. That breaks down all our conventions of where we put labels on people, where we put we build personas around things like demographics and we make assumptions and we put in stereotypes. When you get rid of all that and you look at behaviours, it’s irrelevant in essence of the industry, of the sector. You’re actually looking at the fundamental traits and it creates a whole new lens for the way you design experiences. So I think that’s, you know, that’s a bit of the ripping up some of the rule book. To some extent. We’ve learned and actually we’ve also learned the issues of creating those stereotypes, those base assumptions that we keep repeating and keep.
Adam: Everywhere they are anywhere. Oh, you’re a gen-z or you’re a millennial and then therefore.
Duncan: You’d like to be typecast. Yeah, that’s exactly right. Even take it to the top level. You’re a patient or you’re a customer. Yeah. And you know, we see it time and again. You can be a student or a CEO. Now, your mindset between those two characters, I could have stereotyped you very easily in those two positions, right? But actually when I look at you from a behavioural point of view now, you both actually love adventure, you both love excitement, you both want to do something charitable, for example, right? So suddenly when you break it down into motivations and behaviours, actually the badges mean nothing because then I change the way I’m designing the experience and the journey for you to that mindset. And I think that’s, that’s one of the biggest things that sort of breaks down the walls between industries and it also starts to take us away from these broken conventions.
Marcell: So thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed the episode and if you did, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel for access to full-length videos, clips of chapters, and also YouTube shorts for our best moments? If you want to join our growing community of thought leaders, head over to LinkedIn and follow us at CX Insider podcast to stay updated. Thanks again and I’ll see you in two weeks. But for now, enjoy our rapid-fire questions. By the way, this podcast has been brought to you by ACF Technologies Global Leaders in Customer Experience Management Solutions.
Marcell: Okay. So my first question is, do you have any kind of special morning routine that you do?
Duncan: Mourning? What, for people who’ve died?
Marcell: So when you wake up, what’s the kind of… are you one of those 5 a.m., go for a jog, work until ten, and then they start.
Duncan: Well, I’ve got a forced routine because I do have an extremely energetic dog and I have kids that need to go to school and the rest of it. So, yes, I’m a wake up at six in the morning, then get the kids prepared, then walk their dog for an hour, then back and then it’s first to stand up of the day and nine and so 9 a.m. till typically sort of a 630 day. So yeah, I’d love it. I hate regime, I hate sort of, you know, the restrictions like that. But unfortunately I have to follow quite a strict one.
Adam: Lucky dog walk every morning.
Duncan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Trust me, it would tear the house up if I didn’t.
Adam: Right. Okay, fair enough.
Marcell: And so what’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Duncan: Well, for the 7 minutes a week I get of spare time. What is my favourite thing? I mean, to be honest with you, I do love getting out and, you know, hiking and walking. I really do now. It used to be rugby. That would be. But now it hurts too much. Yeah. So I’ve been steamrollered as a vet a few times and that’s just far too painful. So yeah, getting out and sort of doing the hiking. I love mountain biking still. Yeah, it’s got a lot simpler, my life now.
Marcell: Sounds it. Yeah. And since you obviously work with a lot of neuroscience and psychology and stuff like that, you look at the human brain. What is the kind of most interesting or weirdest thing that you’ve learned about the human brain?
Duncan: I guess the most useful thing, I think, that I started to discover, you know, when we talk about behaviours and emotions and used to think about them as being intangible, how do you measure how do you putting the measures to that just now? The first thing that that again, part of my epiphany that happened was understanding task-driven, you know, sort of frontal cortex where we can measure if people are just doing tasks and you can measure degrees of apathy, you can measure degrees of boredom, but then you can also measure the transfer into, you know, into the limbic zone where the emotions sit. You can start to see some firing now dependent on the intensity of the technology you’re using in EEG and MRIs and things. But that for me was probably the most valuable thing I started to understand in the brain. We can actually see where people are just simply doing tasks or whether it’s actually igniting on a much more excited, emotional level.
Marcell: And why is it called Pomegranate?
Duncan: Yeah. I ask myself that every- No. The reality was when you cut a pomegranate in half, we always thought it looked quite like a sort of brain. And there’s different components within a pomegranate segment. So that is basically the agency. It’s always. It’s always been about getting deeper into, you know, into humanness and digital. And actually, it just worked. And as we’ve moved more towards behaviour, it works even better.
Marcell: Very poetic.
Adam: Love it.
Duncan: Oh, that was nothing.
Marcell: Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in marketing?
Duncan: Farming is far better.
Adam: Farming is better.
Duncan: What advice would I give? I think being strategic, you need to be able to get your head around not just tactical approaches to things but the way the future’s moving. You know, we’re quite deeply embedded with artificial intelligence and how much AI is going to start doing for people that are going to remove jobs unless you can be using it as a tool and it’s not going to remove your job. It’s going to take away production and sort of, you know, mundane tasks which is going to allow more creativity, but it’s going to rely on you be more strategic, it’s going to rely on you having a clearer strategy and approach. And we’re not going to be doing blanket things anymore. We’re going to be moving to ultra sort of levels of personalisation, which is going to increase sophistication. So getting into marketing, the more strategic you can get yourself, the more you know, the deeper you can get into understanding how to develop and evolve strategies and how you can start to look ahead. That’s probably going to be the most valuable thing. I would say that marketers of the future are going to need.
Marcell: That’s all for me. Adam, did you have any?
Adam: No, that’s all good. I think they’re probably the best quick-fire answers I’ve heard.
Marcell: Wow. Wow. High praise. Yeah.
Adam: Definitely high praise.
Duncan: Stop. I’m getting emotional.
Adam: Yeah. Stop it. No, that was great. Oh, good.