Weird Science: Why Your Biological Makeup Means You’re Predetermined to Like Certain Fragrances, Foods, and Yes, Clothes

There are lots of truisms out there when it comes to marketing. “Candy and beauty products do well during a recession,” is one. Well, at least that’s what the girl at Dylan’s Candy Bar told me when I was buying a big bag of gummy bears the other day. In all seriousness, marketing has always been a bit more of an art than a science, trying to nail consumer preferences and desires using mildly unreliable measurements like demographics, focus groups, and historical data. But that's changing--now you’re going to be profiled biologically. *Cue evil maniacal laughter* Diana Derval, founder of the Netherlands-based market research firm Derval Research, has done studies in the area of neuroendocrinology---which basically means the interplay between your neurological system and hormones---to determine consumer preferences. "Consumers are unique individuals but they are also predictable," said Derval in a press release. "Their preferences and behavior are directly linked to their biological and sensory perceptions. And these perceptions are greatly due to the influence of prenatal hormones." What the heck does that mean, and why does it make me want to buy blue eye shadow? Or a certain kind of car?
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There are lots of truisms out there when it comes to marketing. “Candy and beauty products do well during a recession,” is one. Well, at least that’s what the girl at Dylan’s Candy Bar told me when I was buying a big bag of gummy bears the other day. In all seriousness, marketing has always been a bit more of an art than a science, trying to nail consumer preferences and desires using mildly unreliable measurements like demographics, focus groups, and historical data. But that's changing--now you’re going to be profiled biologically. *Cue evil maniacal laughter* Diana Derval, founder of the Netherlands-based market research firm Derval Research, has done studies in the area of neuroendocrinology---which basically means the interplay between your neurological system and hormones---to determine consumer preferences. "Consumers are unique individuals but they are also predictable," said Derval in a press release. "Their preferences and behavior are directly linked to their biological and sensory perceptions. And these perceptions are greatly due to the influence of prenatal hormones." What the heck does that mean, and why does it make me want to buy blue eye shadow? Or a certain kind of car?
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There are lots of truisms out there when it comes to marketing. “Candy and beauty products do well during a recession,” is one. Well, at least that’s what the girl at Dylan’s Candy Bar told me when I was buying a big bag of gummy bears the other day.

In all seriousness, marketing has always been a bit more of an art than a science, trying to nail consumer preferences and desires using mildly unreliable measurements like demographics, focus groups, and historical data. But that's changing--now you’re going to be profiled biologically. *Cue evil maniacal laughter*

Diana Derval, founder of the Netherlands-based market research firm Derval Research, has done studies in the area of neuroendocrinology---which basically means the interplay between your neurological system and hormones---to determine consumer preferences.

"Consumers are unique individuals but they are also predictable," said Derval in a press release. "Their preferences and behavior are directly linked to their biological and sensory perceptions. And these perceptions are greatly due to the influence of prenatal hormones." What the heck does that mean, and why does it make me want to buy blue eye shadow? Or a certain kind of car?

Derval claims that the way we see, taste, touch, smell, and hear affects our preferences. She developed a tool called the Hormonal Quotient, which she claims “makes it possible to predict not only [consumers'] favorite colors, but also their preferred tastes, smells, shapes, textures, and sounds." It’s unclear exactly how they get this information from you and how they apply this tool.

But the research behind it is sort of fascinating. Did you love that red shiny silk dress in Miu Miu’s S/S 2011 collection? It’s probably because you’re farsighted. She discovered that farsighted people prefer red (long-wave color) and nearsighted people prefer blue (short-wave color). It has to do with how the eye muscles perceive color. Your eyes work harder to see certain wavelengths when you’re nearsighted vs. farsighted. I’m not sure where my fanatical love of all things hot pink and loathing of purple comes from---I’m nearsighted. Maybe it has something to do with my hearing. Who knows.

Could this have far-reaching implications for how designers design? The type of makeup we’re offered? The colors Coach starts using on its bags? The paint on Walmart’s walls? It's interesting to contemplate.