5 things to know about neuromarketing

Ever find yourself having bought something that seemed to look great on you in the store, but looks strictly average now that you are at home? Have you been to Ikea thinking you would just go in to buy a pan but end up filling an entire cart with items you didn’t even know you needed? Found yourself questioning why every single discounted item is sold at something .99? Well, these are all examples of neuromarketing in action!

Put simply, neuromarketing is using brain science (specifically surrounding what your brain does that you are unconscious of) to improve and optimise marketing and advertising techniques. It is used everywhere ranging from branding to product design to shopper decision making. Here are 5 interesting things to know about neuromarketing:

  • Neuromarketing is all about the old brain: The old brain is an evolutionary term. It is thought to govern the unconscious, rapid, instinctive decision making. Think of how you would think or act if left in the middle of the woods at night with a bear chasing you. I imagine there would be no time to dwell on whether it would be ethical to hurt a wild animal under the risk of going extinct in that moment. In that fight of flight situation, your actions are driven by emotions while quickly evaluating the pain/gain trade-offs. The old brain is also very visual and focuses on what is physical and concrete. As consumers, we use our old brain, which is why neuromarketers always target these instinctive features.
  • Neuromarketing targets wish-fulfilment: Have you noticed how a lot of brands are associating their products with experiences. Suddenly it makes sense why Coca-Cola, which is simply a carbonated soft drink in the end of the day, has released their mission to be not only ‘refreshing the world’ but also ‘inspiring moments of happiness’. You look at their ads and there are people at festivals, going out with friends, embarking on adventures… oh and a bottle of Coke on their hands. What do you immediately think? Wow, I wish I was having these experiences, which I guess should come with Coca Cola. Of course, you don’t catch yourself thinking that. Your brain unconsciously associates the drink with the emotional experience and there you go!
  • Neuromarketing uses reward and punishment: Bear with me on this one sentence infused with psychological jargon. The mesolimbic pathway, commonly known as the reward pathway is a dopaminergic pathway in our brains. Think dopamine=reward. This system governs our basic motivations, desires, craving for rewards. This system is very relevant for brands since manipulating this neurological pathway also influences consumer behaviour. In fact, perhaps the main reason why video games are extremely addictive and engaging is their avid use of reward and punishment. When the game increases the reward, that also increases the level of dopamine, which creates a positive/ pleasurable association for the gamer and their cycle goes on.
  • Neuromarketing notices the importance of eye gaze: Through neuromarketing research, it was noticed that advertisements that use humans and especially babies were more effective in attracting potential customers. One striking example of this was discovered in a diaper commercial with two versions. The research revealed that when the baby on the ad was looking at you, you couldn’t help but lose focus on the cuteness overload. But, when the baby was looking at the product or the text, the site visitor tended to focus on the content of the ad and buy more.
  • Neuromarketing is about being simple, noticeable, memorable: Whatever message the brand is trying to broadcast, it should appeal to our most basic human instincts. The message should be short, prioritise the start and finish, highlight how it benefits the user, be visual and have a catchy story. Think of customers as primary school children bored out of their mind with this unending stream of classes that their attention span cannot sustain. Similarly, customers are constantly exposed to endless streams of advertisements by different brands; utilising neuromarketing, brands attempt for their product to stand out. Pretty straightforward but as always easier said than done.

In short, neuromarketing is helpful for brands to utilize in their marketing and advertising initiatives as it appeals to our most basic human instincts. Try to watch out for hints of neuromarketing strategies next time you come across an ad!

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