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The 3Cs Framework

Hello Marketers 👋
We’re Cubery, and we live for the big, bold, brave ideas that generate disproportionate brand returns. We exist to give marketers the tools and evidence needed to swing for the fences, with our foundations built on decades of learning from the behavioral sciences and psychology. The 3Cs distill this knowledge into a simple and practical framework, enabling better decision-making and more profitable marketing.

A behavioral-led approach to predicting success

1. Emotion

The be-all and end-all?

Widespread confusion exists around the role of emotion in driving marketing success, with the work of industry thought-leaders often misconstrued to sell the dangerous rhetoric that ‘emotion is all that matters’.

Put simply, eliciting an emotional response is a prerequisite for marketing success; marketing otherwise doesn’t stand a chance of getting onto people’s radars. However, the emotional response isn’t the aspect responsible for motivating behavior.

2. Motivation

A Behavioral Science perspective

‘Jobs to be Done’ theory tells us that people ‘hire’ brands to get underlying ‘jobs’ done, to achieve their desired ‘goals’, and to fulfill needs/desires. These behavioral outcomes can be functional, social, emotional, or psychological in nature.

The behavioral sciences therefore make clear that motivation to do something is goal-driven: decision-making and choice is determined by a brand’s perceived effectiveness for helping people accomplish their goals.

3. Emotivation

The 3Cs Framework

We’ve taken empirical evidence and established learnings from the behavioral sciences and distilled it into a simple, intuitive, and robust framework for predicting marketing success: The 3Cs (Captivate + Connect + Compel).

At its core, emotion and motivation play an equally important role. Emotion is a conduit which facilitates the conveyance of desired messages/impressions, but it’s the latter (not the former) which is the aspect ultimately responsible for motivating behavior.

3Cs Framework - Cubery Market Research

While the emotional response is critical because it aids the processing of information, this isn’t ultimately what motivates behavior — the impressions, associations, and ideas seeded in people’s minds about the brand/product are what does.

The evidence makes it clear that much human decision-making isn’t conscious and rational — it’s fast and instinctive, anchored in our System 1 beliefs, biases, and intuition. This means market research which is overly persuasion based or reliant on claimed reasons for behavior is often extremely misleading. However, ‘System 1’ is all-too-often conflated with ‘emotion’.

Thinking Fast and Slow
While emotional responses are anchored in System 1, not all System 1 thinking is emotion-based. This misconception oversimplifies and misconstrues the significance of System 1 and psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize winning work in “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. From an advertising perspective, we know triggering an emotional response is important for memorability. However, unless emotions are connected to the brand in a meaningful way, consumers’ System 1 processes won’t be penetrated. Yes, the ad will be inserted into people’s ‘memory banks’, but not the part linked to the brand — reducing the likelihood it’ll come to mind when faced with choice.
Focusing on emotion alone also runs contrary to much of what the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute has taught us about ‘mental availability’ in one of the most transformational marketing literatures of all time — “How Brands Grow”, penned by Professor Byron Sharp. The network of memory structures people hold about brands (in relation to buying situations) are what enables them to come easily to mind. These buying situations, or category entry points, necessitate the development of a more nuanced set of impressions, ideas, and associations — outside of emotions alone.
How brands grow

At Cubery, we leverage the wealth of evidence from the behavioral sciences and psychology into how marketing shapes and influences consumer choice. We’ve distilled the factors for success into a simple and intuitive framework: the 3Cs — Captivate, Connect, Compel.

What we believe: ‘Emotion’ works hand-in-hand with ‘Motivation’ to drive brand effects; or, as we like to put it, ‘Captivate’ + ‘Compel’. To be clear, this doesn’t require a trade-off between the two — they’re both prerequisites for success. ‘Connect’ is the third pillar of our framework and diagnoses the strength of branding, which plays an equally important role within both Captivate and Compel. 

Marketing’s commercial impact is reliant upon the brand/product being intrinsic to the emotional response elicited (Captivate), along with it being perceived as a credible way of delivering upon people’s needs/wants (Compel).
Emotion is a prerequisite for all marketing; without emotion marketing never gets onto people’s radars in the first place. However, the emotional response induced by marketing isn’t what influences behavior and choice: motivation does. 
Motivation works by instilling impressions, ideas, and associations which position the brand/product as the best solution to people’s needs and wants (functional, psychological, social). 

Okay, so the evidence makes it clear that influencing decision-making and behavior is about more than just emotion. But can research accurately measure it?

There’s no magic formula, set template, or proven algorithm which will guarantee marketing success. Marketing is an incredibly complex combination of art, psychology, economics, and science. But this isn’t all doom and gloom — the marketing and communications industry would be a pretty bland and uninspiring place to work otherwise! 

What this does mean, however, is that there isn’t a single market research company on the planet with a ‘validated’ methodology for predicting the impact of marketing — particularly with regard to quantifying the role of creativity.

While there are a handful of unscrupulous vendors who do lay claim to having this ‘holy grail’, what we’d suggest to marketers when agencies purport to have such ‘evidence’ is to scratch below the surface — extremely tenuous underpinnings will quickly reveal themselves. 

“There are no absolutes in marketing, despite what the marketing scientists, running towards you across the field in their white coats, might want you to believe.”

Mark Ritson
Marketing Professor


Why is that? Because it’s hard. Real f**king hard.

The evidence makes it clear that most marketing delivers its biggest dividends in the long-term, by slightly increasing the odds a brand will be chosen — through making it come easily to mind and attaching positive thoughts, feelings, and associations to it. Linking the role of creativity to short-term sales effects (which is what these types of ‘validations’ do) does a disservice to the entire industry, focusing marketers’ attention on the wrong metrics for success, and ignoring the evidence around how brands really benefit from marketing investment. 

This has been the driving force behind the sharp decline in advertising effectiveness as revealed through landmark research undertaken by Les Binet and Peter Field in “The Long and the Short of It”, with the now-iconic phrase ‘short-termism’ coined by its authors to describe this alarming trend.
How brands grow
Even the most sophisticated econometric or market mix modelling isn’t able to disentangle the multitude of variables necessary to accurately attribute sales effects — both in the short and long-term — to individual creative assets. ‘Validations’ in the advertising space generally relate to short-term sales. Why? Because it’s much, much easier to measure. But, as any marketer who’s worth their salt would know, just because something’s easily measured doesn’t mean it’s worth measuring. 

Invite your most important stakeholder into the conversation

Advertising and communications testing in particular has for too long been perceived as a pass or fail exercise, with the creative idea’s survival at the mercy of the consumer. Cubery’s reason for existence is to change this toxic paradox, and to restore advertising and product evaluation research to its rightful place as an opportunity for iterative learning. 

It’s our belief that the very least marketers can do when making high-stakes decisions is to bring the consumer into the conversation. Give them a seat at the boardroom table and hear what they have to say; another perspective to balance the potentially loud and powerful voices of other stakeholders — each with their own agenda and biases. 

Research by the globally renowned Ehrenberg-Bass Institute has shown that marketers’ ability to predict the sales effects of advertising is no better than chance. Countless other research studies have highlighted the chasm which exists between the types of people working in creative agencies and those they ultimately seek to influence. 

It therefore goes without saying that inviting the consumer into the conversation isn’t just a pragmatic thing to do, but to ignore them would constitute negligence. While the consumer shouldn’t ultimately hold any more sway in decision-making than other key stakeholders, to not — at the bare minimum — hear what they have to say is akin to rolling the dice. And, when marketing is reduced to a game of chance, it becomes ignorant to the wealth of evidence at our disposal. 

Bringing the consumer into the conversation provides us, as marketers, an opportunity to step outside our bubble and to learn from people who are (often) nothing like us.

Our 3-step process for ensuring research delivers commercial impact.

Leverage the empirical evidence at our disposal to disentangle how marketing shapes and influences decision making and choice. Distill this into a simple, intuitive, and robust framework for predicting marketing success (the 3Cs!).
Pair this with a team of branding and communications specialists — not generalist market researchers. Data, in and of itself, answers very little; what marketers really need is less data but more people who know what to do with it.
Leverage the power of technology and automation to not only reduce costs and increase speed, but more importantly to ensure knowledge is captured and a culture of cumulative learning is cultivated over time.