Germany’s largest study of implicit perception of food brands names the year’s strongest brands.

Purchase decisions in the supermarket are usually made unconsciously. The strongest brands are those that succeed in consistently appealing to the emotional motivators of consumers. The 2017 Neuroscape Food Brand Monitor – the largest study of implicit perception of food brands ever conducted in Germany – employs neuroscientific methods to uncover this mechanism and put it in context within a representative study. It reveals the “emotional footprint” of Germany’s purchasing decision-makers, as well as the characteristics of some thirty leading brands, to create a ranking of implicit brand strength. Surprisingly, the mymuseli brand came out on top.

There are many diverse factors that can be used to evaluate Germany’s brands, and there are just as many ranking lists circulating around the country – most of them oriented toward sales figures, image values or name recognition. But the relevance and uniqueness of the brands are often overlooked. “And yet it is precisely these factors that create the subconscious image of a brand – which is what has the most impact on purchase decisions. So we searched for a way to uncover the subconscious drivers that influence consumers when they are standing at the store shelves deciding which product to buy,” said Lukas Cottrell, managing partner of Peter Schmidt Group. The brand that developed a research approach based on neuroscientific methods to precisely measure the values subconsciously associated with various food brands. With 2270 participants, this was the largest representative survey of the implicit strength of food brands ever conducted in Germany.

The survey covered some 200 stimuli generally associated with the food sector, including trends, visual codes, sensory experiences, typical consumption patterns and episodic stories.  It examined nearly 30 food brands and ranked them according to their implicit brand strength. The results showed that Mymuseli is the clear leader among Germany’s food brands. “The brand possess a very differentiated profile and addresses the relevant areas of consumer needs. It earned high marks in both uniqueness und relevance,” Cottrell explained. The next highest rankings were achieved by the sweets brands Ritter Sport, Langnese and Haribo. This is not a coincidence: “Many sweets brands appeal more broadly and strongly to the specific areas of need of purchasing decision-makers than other categories manage to do. The sweets brands that are uniquely anchored in consumers’ minds land in the top spots of the ranking list.” But the study also revealed that even strong brands possess untapped potential, as none of them succeeds in completely addressing the full range of consumer needs.

“Neuroscape” is a strategic tool for evaluating brands and markets

The study relies on a strategic tool developed by Peter Schmidt Group on the basis of neuroscientific research. “Neurospace” is a coordinate system with axes for the typical motivators of people’s purchasing decisions: Exploration and harmony, stimulation and discipline, dominance and openness. Depending on which needs a given brand addresses, it creates a well defined “footprint” that in turn can be compared with the footprint of a given group of consumers, an industry or sector, or that of a competitor product. To determine the footprint, Peter Schmidt Group relies on an implicit testing procedure that takes into consideration the answers provided by the representative purchasing decision-makers and weights them on the basis of their response time. “Reaction time-based measurement sheds light on the strength as well as the subconscious emotional location of the stimuli and brands within the six dimensions of consumer needs,” explained Dr. Stephan Platt, director of brand strategy for Peter Schmidt Group.

Over the past eight months, Dr. Platt and his team defined the aspects of the model, designed the study and analysed the data. Examined within various different contexts, the data lead to a number of surprising conclusions. In addition to observing food brands and their potential, the study provides interesting insights into conventional connotations and memories, typical consumption patterns as well as regional, demographic and gender-specific divergences. “These findings can serve as levers brands can use to appeal more effectively to their various target groups. Brands that succeed in occupying certain specific codes consumers have learned to use in making their purchase decisions will be perceived as unique on the marketplace,” Platt said. “At the same time, well established brands must continually reexamine the codes they are relying on, because zeitgeist trends and consumer connotations of brand values are constantly changing. Even well established positions have an expiry date.”

Order the 2017 "Neuroscape Food Brand Monitor" free of charge

The study is published by Peter Schmidt Group, currently Germany’s revenue leader among branding and design agencies. The agency are recognized experts in the FMCG and retail sectors, serving clients such as REWE, Penny, Henkel, Danone and Hachez. To order your copy of the 2017 "Neuroscape Food Brand Monitor" (German version), please send an email to

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