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139: Professor Michael Platt connects neuroscience with brand choice and loyalty

Michael Platt Professor at University of Penn

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with Michael Platt, who is the James S. Riepe University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds three professorships there: in marketing at the Wharton School; in neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine; and in psychology at the university’s School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, he is the director of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative.

In the course of their discussion, Platt talks at length about an article he co-authored with Leslie Zane, “Cracking the Code on Brand Growth,” as well as a yet-to-be-published study regarding people’s feelings about and affinities for their smartphones and how that relates to brand choice and loyalty.

He also touches on the risks big brands face in not innovating, the even greater impact neuroscience will have in the future on marketing, advertising and design, and, last but not least, how his polymathic ways fuel his passion.

“I’m very passionate about what I do; I’m very passionate about connecting all these disciplines,” says Platt. “One of the things that drew me to Wharton and Penn, however, which is new in terms of opportunity, is really making the science applicable, making it useful for people — whether they’re in business or in society in general. How can we take all of what we’re doing here in the academy and in the sciences and translate it and make it accessible, so people understand it, so they’re interested in it? And actually give them tools to reach their own kind of peak performance and ultimately enhance their own well-being.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • From anthropology to neuroscience, Platt discusses his background and how he is “trying to understand how our brains decide.” (1:31)
  • Marketing, neuroscience, and psychology: Platt on his multidisciplinary balancing act. (7:14)
  • “Cracking the Code on Brand Growth” — Platt talks about the article (and podcast) he collaborated on with Leslie Zane. (9:15)
  • Platt elaborates on a relational hypothesis of branding. (12:51)
  • Platt defines and explains just what a “connectome” is, and he discusses the Human Connectome Project and its implications for marketers. (20:38)
  • “In some cases, neuroscience will provide better return on investment than you get if you’re just using survey and self-report techniques.” (31:22)
  • Don’t be a dopamine: Platt explains how Dollar Shave Club’s innovative approach gave consumers’ brains a jolt. (33:46)
  • Platt’s ability to move among different disciplines dates back to his high school days. (40:47)
  • The future of marketing and its connection to neuroscience. (46:28)