Howard R. Moskowitz, President, Moskowitz Jacobs Inc. 
Stephen D. Rappaport, Knowledge Solutions Director, Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)
Mindsets, Messages and Money: The Personal Mind Genome in Advertising’s Future
A personal genome is a (nearly) complete sequence of the chemical base pairs that make up the DNA of a single person. Because medical treatments have different effects on different people because of genetic variations … the analysis of personal genomes may lead to personalized medical treatment based on individual genotypes.
— Wikipedia, “Human Genome”
Let’s make the quote more relevant to the future of advertising by substituting for the biological terms:
A personal mind genome is a (nearly) complete sequence of the myriad mindsets that make up the mental DNA of a single person. Because advertising treatments have different effects on different people because of mindset variations … the analysis of personal mind genomes will lead to personalized advertising treatment based on individual mindsets.
Mindsets are the “genetic expressions” that reflect and govern our attitudes, preferences, and behaviors towards everything in our lives. We have tens of thousands of them, each one specific to a company, category, product, and brand. Every one of us has tens of thousands of them, each one specific and discoverable.
Just as there was a race to reveal the biological genome, the race is on to sequence the consumer mind’s genome, to map and describe its mindsets in order to improve people’s lives through scientifically-based human-centered marketing and advertising. While some of the genome will be described publicly, most of the research activity will be proprietary, done by brands, agencies and research companies for their competitive advantage.
Over the last few years an exciting question has been posed from the perspective of cognitive economics: “Within each mindset, how does a particular message raise or lower purchase interest and what is its economic value: namely, how does it raise or lower the price of ‘x’ consumers expect to pay?”
Findings from cognitive economics studies reveal that messages which increase purchase interest may have high dollar values – or not; neutral messages or messages that drop interest may have high dollar values – or not. Messages can be characterized as follows: consumer driver (high interest/high dollar value), must-haves (high interest/average or lower dollar value), nice-to-haves (low interest/high dollar value), and turn-offs (negative interest/any dollar value).
Analyzing the personal consumer genome benefits advertisers – they are now able to do what they have long wanted to do: scientifically understand the consumer mind; grasp the multiple mindsets consumers hold towards their brand; discover how different mindsets work; quantify how messages influence consumers to become more – or less – interested in “x,” and choose the most effective messages to achieve the desired result.
The personal mind genome will help brands increase purchase interest, improve innovation and spur new product development, all of which contribute to brand growth, create new revenue streams, and brighten the financial outlook for a company.
We expect interest in personal mind genomes to rise sharply between now and 2020, primarily because they furnish clear directions for truly personalized advertising. We expect eight shifts:
- From advertisers focusing on “consumer insights,” which are often elusive, qualitatively derived, non-specific to individuals, and descriptive to understanding individuals by mapping their consumer mind genome through a scientific approach that is specific to individuals, and explanatory of an individual’s thought and behavior. This will help overcome a widespread problem in advertising, namely the lack of business-changing consumer understanding.
- From traditional notions of defining mindsets as segments constructed of people who typically share demographic, attitudinal or behavioral traits to recognizing mindsets as emerging from the different types of ideas held by people. The segments created by this latter view of mindsets are geared to a particular category, brand, product, service or experience. This gives advertisers the ability to craft messages that speak directly to the mind of each person about “x” in a way that is resonant and convincing.
- From massive general segmentation studies that take time, resources and substantial investment to short, quick, cost-effective and nimble studies that continuously discover and track changes in the personal consumer genome that enable brands to respond quickly and decisively to them.
- From conventionally targeted advertising to truly personalized advertising for each individual according to their mindset. In many instances, mindsets are unrelated to standard variables long relied upon.
- From advertising copy making product claims and emotional appeals to scientifically selected messages for each mindset based on each message’s power to increase purchase interest and raise the perception of a brand’s economic value. For brands that swap copy in and out to optimize their ad copy effectiveness, this shift will enable them to create and test combinations from messages with known impacts and improve their chances for higher-performing ads.
- From imprecise message targeting with much waste to individual targeting with the right message at the right time through the right touchpoint. Simple techniques are available to today that assign individuals to their appropriate mindset merely by asking three-to-four questions.
- From competitive advantage tied narrowly to product performance and value to long-term sustainable competitive advantage achieved by integrating the personal consumer genome across all business functions thereby enabling companies to constantly calibrate and adapt themselves to peoples’ often changing minds.
- From conceiving of people as consumers who buy brands to understanding the varied and rich expressions of the human mind and serving people through the products, services or experiences companies and brands bring forward.
 Stephen D. Rappaport is Knowledge Solutions Director, Advertising Research Foundation; Howard R. Moskowitz is President, Moskowitz-Jacobs Inc.
 The term “mind genomics” was first described by Howard Moskowitz and colleagues in their 2006 paper, “Founding a New Science: Mind Genomics,” Journal of Sensory Studies 21 (2006) 266–307. © 2006, Blackwell Publishing
 In cognitive economics people are typically asked what a fair price is to pay for “x.” A financial model is built from their responses that yield a dollar value for each message within each mindset.