InnoKOL | Diana Derval: My Motivation to Bridge Science And Marketing Was to Unveil the Why Behind Observed yet Unexplained Behavior

2019/11/11 Innoverview Read

On Nov.11th (GMT+8), we had great honor of interviewing Prof.Diana Derval,who is the Chair and Research Director of DervalResearch, the Harvard Business Review contributor, Jury for CES Asia Innovation Awards, patented inventor of the Hormonal Quotient (HQ) nominated for the Edison Awards and of the Derval Color Test taken by 10 million people.Futhermore, She is also the Member of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, and author of the books “Designing Luxury Brands”, "Hormones, Talent, and Career", and “The Right Sensory Mix”-finalist of the Berry-AMA Award for best marketing book and recommended by Philip Kotler. She shared the unique experiences on  turning fascinating neuroscientific breakthroughs into powerful business frameworks and deep insight on the future of shopping.

Innoverview: How would you describe yourself in three words? What’s your motto?


I would probably not try to describe myself, but this is what I often hear, in no particular order: unusual purple researcher. 

my motto would be: understand your customers from the inside.


Innoverview: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And we’d love to hear what brought you to marketing.


I am a self-taught scientific researcher with a background in computer engineering, literature, marketing, and business administration. I guess I do not like to choose! My businesses cover activities ranging from Fashion to Biotechnology. My motivation to bridge science and marketing was to unveil the why behind observed yet unexplained phenomena.

Innoverview: When I first read your bio, I risk being overwhelmed by the number of awards you have won or nominated. What dives you most to contribute in different areas and manage to be successful in achieving so many awards?



Of course, having my books endorsed by Philip Kotler or acclaimed by the American Marketing Association feels great. But the most important is to see how DervalResearch代戈 findings help decode people's behavior and preferences. 

Innoverview: You have accelerated the development of many Fortune 500 firms. Could you share some successful cases impressed you most? What are the innovative methods or thoughts adopted in the cases? 


With our team of scientists, we have the chance to advise leading brands from Paris to Shanghai.


Our work with Richemont lead to an optimization of their assortment and collections in Asia and the design of our Derval Color Test taken by 10+ million people around the world and showing how we have a very unique vision of colors. Our work for Douwe Egberts coffee brand helped boost their sales on new target personas and to reveal an unexpected link between taste buds and diabetes, opening the way to new prevention routes. I am a social entrepreneur and every research we did so far directly helped our clients but also contributed to advances in research on health.


Innoverview: Luxury brand experience is transforming from traditional product craftsmanship to undertaking an experiential journey with the brand. As the famous author of “Designing Luxury Brands”, could you explain how to build successful luxury brands using the power of sensory science and neuro-physiology? 


Maslow was wrong: all needs are physiological. And people have their very own hierarchy of needs.



The need for status is linked to prenatal testosterone and DRD2/DRD3 dopamine receptors. So it is not your fault if you want the latest sportscar or designer handbag!


We help luxury brands apply these findings to evaluate market potentials, launch new products, or design customer experiences. 

Innoverview: Neuromarketing has attracted increasing attention, but critical aspects of it remain underexplored, including what exactly it is or includes, and how it is used in practice. From your perspective, would such perfect neuroscientific prediction be compatible with the existence of free will? What are the opportunities and challenges to deliver successful neuromarketing strategy?


Neuromarketing is about physiology, hormones, sensory perception (and more) applied to business. Our decisions and perceptions being shaped by our physiology, “free will” seems quite limited. The key to successful neuromarketing strategies is to consider people and not just brains as most decisions happen in the whole body - and to keep it simple. There is no need to use invasive measuring tools to get results. It is all about match-making between experiences and people.

Innoverview: Sensory marketing is not only used by car manufacturers, but also by a wide variety of companies in industries ranging from food and beverage to real estate and from apparel to hardware. What’s your suggestions on how to utilize sensory marketing in fashion industry?

Diana: In most industries, from real estate to fashion, if one aspect of the sensory mix is wrong, people will not buy - unless they have no other option.


Adapting the collections to each sensory profile is the only way to create, revamp, or develop fashion brands while dramatically reducing waste and returns. So everybody wins.

Innoverview: As technology continues to evolve, it transforms the retail process at a fast pace, generating new consumer demands from retailers concerning their shopping experiences. From your experience and perspective, what are the game-changing technologies? How will the technologies drive business success?


Biometrics, NFC, and drones are changing the shopping and traveling experience. The future is the intersection between each persona's behavior and the realm of possibilities, and it will therefore be multiple. We can already spot different directions being taken by cities like Shanghai, Dubai, or Paris. The challenge for managers is to use the right technologies in the right context. We regularly design learning expeditions to accompany retail groups in taking the right next steps. Next ones will take place in Chengdu and Doha.


Thanks for having me! and feel free to connect via wechat or linkedin