Researchers have shown that our brains are hard-wired to perceive information most effectively when it is presented as narrative. In fact, Professor Paul Zak, as stated in #HBR October 2014, conducted studies demonstrating that our brains release higher levels of oxytocin, a neurochemical that stimulates feelings of empathy, when people were exposed to effective stories. Moreover, he learned that the driver of oxytocin levels was the degree to which a story was able to garner sustained attention through the expression of tension in the story.
As an example, I went to see the movie Interstellar this past week, starring Matthew McConaughey as a reluctant hero astronaut who is called on to find a new "Earth" in time to save its inhabitants, and, most important to him, his children whom he had to leave behind. Here's the tension, every day he spends looking for a new "Earth" on the other side of a wormhole is years back on Earth. With this cosmic clock ticking, I was hooked. I was anxious for him to complete his task so that he could return to be reunited with his children before they died of old age. I am pretty sure that in this heightened state of oxytocin empathy I would have done just about anything to help his cause. Heck, maybe even buy a Lincoln! Here's a link to the trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2585177369?ref_=ttvi_vi_imdb_1
So, making the long return trip back to the title of this post, The Neurobiology of Concept Writing, we have learned by experience that when developing concept statements for new product ideas, that this same principle is at work. The key is in what is generally called the "Insight Statement." Some people call this the "Accepted Consumer Belief" but in order to tweak those oxytocin levels, you have to make people feel and sense the tension. This is the bar for a great concept statement, and more rightly, the goal of every insight manager or innovator.
I'd love to hear about examples of insight statements that you believe really pushed the right buttons.
This blog offers stories and discussions on how to build more relevance and differentiation for brands. The author is Timothy Coffey, Chief Revolutionist of Launchforce Strategy, a consumer research consultancy that specializes in highly creative qualitative methods. His experience ranges from brand and research management at Procter & Gamble to innovation management at Tupperware to founding and leading an integrated marketing strategy agency. He is the author of three books, Innovation Myths & Mythstakes, The New Super Consumer, Mom&Kid, and The Great Tween Buying Machine.