Bring consumer neuroscience to your

market category analysis

Before a brand can establish its positioning, it needs to fully understand the needs and drivers of its market. What are consumers looking for and where are the gaps?

brand positioning

What is being tested?

We test the market category that a brand or product sits in. We present respondents with a description of the category, with or without images of brands or products from the category.

What kinds of measures are used and what are the outputs?

To understand the category, we use our implicit / emotional reaction time test (IMPRESS). We use this in conjunction with our explicit or rational response test (EXPRESS or FAST).

We provide several outputs:

  1. A model of the drivers of the category – the emotional and function purchase triggers (features and benefits).
  2. The consumer journey and at each stage, the influences that predict moving to the next stage and the barriers that prevent conversion to the next stage.
  3. Buyer personas discovered through segmentation analysis.
  4. Emotional decision pathways, based on path analysis. This shows how the features and benefits trigger an emotional sequence that results in making a purchase.

Why is an implicit response great for understanding the drivers in a market category?

Implicit reaction time tests are objective and hence do not rely of self-report (subjective) or introspection. Self-report has its limitations. It is a method that is very good for screening (making sure we have the right target group of consumers in our survey) and for some behavioural aspects (such as which social media platforms they use, how frequently they shop online, and so on).

However, if a business wants to be able to predict behaviour, then relying solely on self-report is high risk (see Betch et al, 2001; af Wåhlberg, 2009). Our FAST test is a forced-choice time-limited response and combined with implicit response tests gives a very strong measure as we have found in many studies.

Examples of the categories we have modelled

Premium fuel, vitamins / minerals / supplements, contact lenses, numerous medications, air fresheners, numerous financial services, supermarkets, fast food, holiday resorts, holiday letting, bottled water, skin care, parent and child, restaurant dining, bar-restaurants, insurance, comparison sites / services,  loan companies in Australia, juices, sugary soft drinks, breakfast toast toppings, toilet tissue, yogurt, feminine care, contraceptives, canned & bottled beers, convenience stores, dental care and implants, eye drops, football sponsorship, football TV channels, dry dog food and treats, biscuits, and so many more!

This test is usually carried out alongside brandy equity and brand positioning tests. See a list of some of the thousands of brands we have assessed in their categories.


In understanding a market category, it is often good to know your ideal customer profile. This means targeted marketing strategies based on customer segmentation. 

Split Second Research can assist you in identifying your customer segments and reveal your individual customer personas. This is an automated function in our survey platform. You can get to know your customer targets, exactly what they want explicitly and implicitly.


References and Bibliography

Betsh, T., Plessner, H., Schwieren, C., & Gütig, R. (2001). I like it but I don’t know why: A value-account approach to implicit attitude formation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 242-253. [This examines how attitudes and feelings can be acquired implicitly]

af Wåhlberg, A. (2009). Driver Behaviour and Accident Research Methodology. Ashgate Publishing Limited. [This is a critique of subjective research methods that have been used to try to predict behaviour]

Updated July 2024 by Dr Eamon Fulcher PhD


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