Describing what triggers consumers’ buying decisions, world-renowned entrepreneur, and American author Seth Godin, famously said, “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”
Looking at how consumers are increasingly swayed by the emotive aspects of a marketing campaign, Godin’s words seem to hold good. Just look around and observe, how many times do we, as consumers, really come across an ad on TV, a product package on a supermarket shelf, or an overhead billboard — that really is an absolute head-turner? So appealing that we care to give it a second look? Not quite as often.
In today’s age of consumerism, inundated with a plethora of marketing campaigns, each vying for increased eyeballs, not many marketers come up with a product that leaves us with a memorable impression. However, with technology transforming most business spheres, each day, things are bound to, and are rapidly changing.
In India’s case, while it’s true that brand messaging targeted at the consumers’ subconscious mind is still at a nascent stage, there certainly is an increased realisation that one size fits all model no longer works. Today, it’s all about creating a unique and differentiated marketing campaign. Bengaluru-based emotion-recognition, artificial intelligence startup, Entropik Tech, is one such company that helps marketers come up with useful emotion-based takeaways to make their mundane ads campaigns click with their target audience and turn them into high ROI churners. The tech startup has brought out an AI-driven platform that uses deep learning, coupled with AI algorithms to predict, what it calls ‘consumer emotion metrics’.
EmotionalAI: It all starts (and ends) in the mind
EmotionalAI that could be described as using AI technologies to knowing a customer’s unarticulated and unsaid feelings remains a largely unexplored field. The concept comes from its wider domain i.e. Neuromarketing, i.e, the application of neuroscience to marketing.
Realising its huge potential in India – a country that is home to a burgeoning consumer base, many AI startups are now betting big on the sector. For Lava Kumar, one of the cofounders of Entropik Tech, India’s AI space, encompassing the EmotionalAI domain, offers a plethora of opportunities to new age marketers.
Kumar, who takes care of the strategy of the company, says that while working in the US for the last 14 years, he, along with Ranjan Kumar, another of the venture’s founder, went back and forth, deliberating on what new and exciting they could introduce in the Indian market. “That time, we wanted to zero in on a product or technology that besides bringing value to clients, addresses customers’ crucial brand messaging related critical pain-points,” says Kumar.
Initially, Kumar and his co-founders managed to raise $200,000 in seed funding to start Entropik Tech in February 2016. Later, in July 2018, the startup raised $1.1 million in a pre-series A funding, led by Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF).
Is 4P dead?
The most common marketing mix that brands use is centered around the 4Ps – price, product, promotion, and place. If you throw in ‘emotion’ to the mix, what happens to the marketing mix concept?
“4p is not dead; it’s still important, but we need to go beyond it. Today’s marketing messaging should not be about hitting in the dark, but should reach out to consumers’ inner feelings strategically,” stresses Kumar. Drawing home his point, he prefers to quote Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman’s work as per which 95% of our purchase related decision making is entirely driven by emotions and typically takes place subconsciously.
However, with AI playing a greater role across sectors and functions, using emotions to get better at marketing campaigns add another dimension to the mix. Humans have 21 different facial expressions, which range from happiness to anger, to fear to disgust. Entropik examines all of them. It offers an emotional intelligence online SaaS platform and the propriety ‘effect lab’ employs multimodal emotion recognition technologies, including EEG-brain wave mapping, eye tracking, and facial coding, among others.
Kumar claims that Entropik’s algorithms (monitored using a standard webcam & screen-based eye tracking software) automatically detects human emotions with an accuracy of about 85%. The inputs gained out of the platform can be applied in wide ranging domains, including for media optimisation (in movie trailers, ad placements, advertisements), in UI/UX optimisation (in applications involving App UI/UX, website navigation, gaming etc.) and in experiential marketing (in domains such as VR, automobile and edtech), to name a few.
As part of its algorithm designed to calculate visual metrics, the AI-driven firm’s remote eye-tracking mechanism monitors exactly where, when, and what people are looking at and for how long. Simultaneously, its image processing algorithms calculate the point of the user’s gaze to create what the firm calls ‘heat maps & gaze plots’ in real-time. Further, it makes use of EEG (ElectroEncephaloGraphy) to measure a user’s emotion by analysing brainwave data, whereby the electrical activity in the user’s brain is monitored using a specialised headset. The brain activity data collected by the EEG headset are then interpreted by algorithms to arrive at behavioural and cognitive metrics.
Technology’s potential ahead
Apart from offering solutions to individual brands, Kumar states that lately, their venture has seen traction with large retail groups. According to him, some of these retail groups have their own brands which compete against many competitors’ brand in their supermarkets. So such business groups want to give a distinct brand identity to their own brands.
“I was recently talking to the Head of Innovation of the Future Group (Indian conglomerate owning supermarket chains like Big Bazaar). They do have their range of in-house brands, for which they were interested in creating a unique and differentiated identity for their products that could eventually push such items’ shelf-to-cart ratio, just as we have made it possible for many similar brands,” the tech entrepreneur added, sharing the startup currently boasts of clients such as ITC Limited, Tata chemicals, Xiomi and Vivo mobiles etc.
Operating across the globe including the USA, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore, the startup, with more than 55-plus major clientele, today boast of accolades such as being (listed as) one of the 5 Cool Vendors in the AI space by global research and advisory firm Gartner.
“Working together with Entropik we have been able to leverage Emotion AI to create performance benchmarks for show promos which are now being used by India’s leading broadcasters to create consumer-centric content”, states LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research. Echoing similar thoughts, Tom Patchin, Founder & CEO, Fiction Vortex Inc (USA), shares that as a young edtech startup, understanding likes, dislikes, and content consumption patterns have been a complex problem to them and this where Entropik turned out to be a saviour. “Dedicating a lot of time to research, testing and analysis is not an option for us. Entropik allows us to include learnings from the subconscious mapping of our readers with quick testing. We have seen a 35% increase in content consumption after we started optimising our UX & Content,” adds Patchin.