Do you know what neuromarketing is and how it works? This is a discipline that has come to the business world to stay and that more and more professionals and companies are taking into account in their business strategies, both online and offline.
As a consumer, it is likely that on more than one occasion you have made a purchase for which you have not had a very reasonable and logical explanation later, right? It has all happened to us all. So I want to start by defining this term.
What Is Neuromarketing?
The neuromarketing is the science that studies the behavior of purchase or consumption and customer decisions to different products, services and / or brands. It is, therefore, the discipline in charge of analyzing and studying some basic mental processes such as attention, perception and memory.
This discipline carries out all this analysis, using modern scientific instruments to obtain measurable and verifiable results (preferably in controlled contexts, such as in laboratories).
One of his specialties is the study of consumer behavior , and in order to do so he uses neuroscientific techniques in order to obtain data on consumer behavior and habits.
Thanks to these techniques we can know, for example, that almost 69% of purchase decisions are unconscious and that they respond to basic impulses from our brain.
Were you surprised? Well this is just the beginning.
Shopping has great emotional motivation. And these emotional stimuli, on many occasions escape our reason, that is, sometimes we make unconscious purchase decisions.
It is there, in almost unconscious decision making, where brands may try to sell more products or services thanks to neuromarketing. Therefore, in addition to seeing what neuromarketing is, throughout this guide we will analyze what it is for and what are the reasons that are promoting its massive use.
Well-Used Neuromarketing İs A Great Selling Tool!
Knowing how to reach our customers to try to influence those decisions they make in a more unconscious way, we will be able to sell our products without having to appeal so much to other, more logical, purchase reasons.
Behind this simple approach, there are a whole series of very complex causes that motivate these events. Therefore, without knowing a little better how our brain works and how we behave in certain situations, we will not achieve our purpose.
What Is Neuromarketing For And How To Apply It in Our Ecommerce? + Examples
In this post I will talk about everything there is to know about neuromarketing :
- Brief historical review.
- What is it for?
- What techniques do you use?
- How do companies manipulate purchasing action?
- Examples etc.
A Brief History of Neuromarketing
Throughout history, man has suffered several blows to his ego due to “fault” of scientific advances. Among those blows, the following stand out:
- First: Earth is not the center of the Universe.
- Second: we are the result of evolution (and not of any animal, but of a monkey).
- Later: our impulses have a repressed sexual basis that we do not understand.
- Then a certain Einstein appears and tells us “kindly” about his relativity.
- And as if we were few, the grandmother gave birth: neuromarketing tells us that our brain buys while we consume.
All these blows seem to indicate that science is advancing to harm us, don’t you think?
Regardless, let’s focus on recent history to see how and why Neuromarketing was born.
In the 1980s and 1990s, large companies began to wonder why half of their products and marketing strategies failed.
After contacting professors in behavioral sciences and other specialists, they reluctantly concluded that the consumer did not make decisions about the products they bought in a fully conscious or rational way, so they had to modify their strategic plan and adapt their messages to direct them to a new type of human being: the emotional.
At first everything was pure research; then companies and large corporations came to ask for advice to sell more, and later those companies delved into the topic not only to sell more and better, but to save millions of euros (and dollars) in an advertisement that would not even have results before being released.
What is Neuromarketing For And How Does It Actually Work?
Broadly speaking, it serves to:
- Optimize the customer experience in your purchase option by displaying prominent images and products
- Provoke the so-called contagion effect
- Stimulate and experiment with the product and the brand through the 5 senses
- Optimize the scope, retention and processing of the information of said brand or product through various assimilation techniques in sensory memory
- Act on emotional experience and memory
How Do Companies “Manipulate” Us And How Could You Do İt?
Although I know that the word “manipulation” does not please anyone very much, it cannot be denied that the halo of mystery that surrounds it makes it very attractive. This fame is rather new.
It was not until well into the 20th century that the results of certain secret studies by some American corporations began to be published. Removing the negative connotations, let’s ask ourselves the following:
If, when deciding between one product and another, I opt for one while ignoring the other, has the winning company manipulated me?
The difference between manipulation and suggestion is quite fine , but (whether we like it or not) the results are what rule. And that’s why companies invest millions and millions every year.
Since decision processes sometimes do not serve reasons but are executed unconsciously (mostly), neuromarketing companies constantly try to make their product information “attack” precisely “that” point in our brain: the unconscious. Yes. You read correctly.
Parts Of Our Brain
There is not only one brain, but three:
- The archicortex
- The neocortex
The first two control the most instinctive and basic processes of animal behavior . In the latter, however, are higher cognitive processes such as reasoning and language. Now, of all these regions, the most attractive and interesting is the limbic system .
In order not to go too far on this subject, we will say that the limbic system is a set of structures that process information related to memory and emotions . It is located inside the primitive brain, where it processes and stores all the information related to survival, instinct, and impulses.
And here is a curious fact:
The sensory information stored in this region (and even more the olfactory which, unlike other perceptual information such as vision or hearing, goes directly from the olfactory bulb to the limbic system without going through the thalamus), has a special emotional relevance with respect to the others.
Have you ever wondered why smells have that ability to bring us memories in a faster way compared to any other sense?
From this follows the importance and weight of sensory marketing , especially when it comes to activating certain emotions in the consumer. It is, in turn, a test of how marketing helps psychologists and how psychology becomes a science that improves the results of current marketing.
Other Interesting Brain Regions
It is another of these regions that you have to pay attention to, as it processes basic but powerful emotional information, such as fear or anxiety.
»The nucleus accumbens
He is responsible for the reinforcement in the purchasing process (does dopamine sound familiar to you?). In it, addiction, gratification and motivation to consume are generated. Any reward system, including drug addiction, inevitably goes through this interconnected neural system.
It retains information that we use under certain situations. It is intimately linked to some basic functions such as food or sex. All the data that helps compulsive buyers to get carried away by certain products are stored here.
It is in charge of “notifying” customers of everything that does not convince them, with the consequent rejection of that product or brand. Large companies take great care of this aspect, since it completely destabilizes the anchor effect that it is so difficult to generate for a brand.
So Why Don’t We Buy With Our Heads And İf We Buy With Our Hearts?
Consumer behavior is sometimes quite silly.
Yes. I am also a consumer and a fool, and I explain why.
Psychology has studied a very interesting effect called cognitive dissonance . In a few words, this effect tells us that we all make up excuses to cling to our ideas, especially when someone exposes certain arguments that put our beliefs at risk (we do not give the arm to twist, even if the other is right).
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Well, we may be convinced that the purchase decision starts from our logical reasoning prior to the decision between two products, but in reality what we do is argue reasons, and give excuses or justifications that are in line with what we feel with regarding that product or brand.
But … calm down! Before you freak out, let’s look at an example.
A car salesman tells a client that if he buys this super brand of vehicles it will be the coolest of the company where he works, but to that he adds that, in addition, he has an accident protection system that will protect his family.
Your purchase intention will naturally focus on this last aspect, although the first reason will attack a more pressing need (that of standing out among your coworkers).
The client, of course, will never admit it: he will maintain his position with logically created arguments, hiding the emotional impulse he needs to satisfy. You will buy it thinking that the decision was made with logic and evaluating the pros and cons.
But (and with my sincere apologies) let me tell you that … there is nothing further from reality.
One More Example Of How Our Brain Buys
Let’s see now how our brain works when it decides to buy a product. As you can imagine, for a brand or product to reach its customers it must have emotional relevance. If we don’t feel, we don’t buy.
Big companies turn to emotions to make us believe that we have an unmet need (even if it is not true) and that they have the solution for a low or fair price.
How Do You Think You Buy?
You look for a reason , you go to the store and -by buying the product- you experience that pleasant sensation that you have previously implanted.
How Does Your Brain Really Buy?
He is attracted to a product or brand by emotionally identifying himself with what is being sold; Then he goes to the store and, after buying it, justifies it with all the possible logical arguments.
But What Happens At The Neural Level When You Buy Something?
In 2012, Professor Knutson of Stanford University focused on the way we behave when deciding on a purchase option.
When we see shoes in a shopping center, for example, the nucleus accumbens is activated and informs us that this product contains an important reinforcement stimulus for us (“not only are we going to run faster with them, but they also have a cushioning fabulous »).
Of course: if we see that the shoes that are right next to them have similar qualities for a somewhat lower price, we feel a certain rejection of the first shoes that we have seen, irremediably causing the insula to activate.
This also teaches that perception is volatile, and that many efforts in these marketing techniques carried out by a brand can quickly go down the drain for anyone with a sharp eye.
The 7 Most Used Tools in Neuromarketing
Before entering this section, I would like to make a clarification: the techniques that I will talk about here are used in laboratories of various universities and for different purposes, that is, not only for the study of neuromarketing.
I, for example, carried out my studies in the emotion laboratory of the faculty of Malaga using electroencephalogram (EEG) techniques to obtain data related to the frustration response in some subjects.
Currently, and thanks to wearable products , it is no longer necessary to investigate consumer behavior in the basement of a building, since control is done through networks.
The halo of mystery that this control represents (and that surrounds these companies) has reached a point where there is a regulatory ethics committee – given the secrecy of its results –
That secrecy, in turn, has not been good enough to not know what techniques we are guinea pigs for.
These Techniques Are as Follows:
- Functional Magnetic Resonance
- Eye-tracking , or study of saccadic and tracking movements (also known in online marketing as heat maps or heatmap)
- Electromyography or analysis of the electrical response of the muscles (very famous for their results in sports motivation)
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) or response of the heart to different stimuli (which allows, together with the dilation of the pupils and other measures, to observe the emotional impact or wow effect of a product)
- GSR or galvanic skin response
- And finally, the revolutionary and attractive Face Coding , or the ability to predict what is happening in your mind through gestures and micro-expressions of your face.
Disturbing isn’t it?
Some Examples of Neuromarketing Applied by Large Companies
In 2010, the Cheetos company discovered something surprising:
The bags that had a shiny design, the Fritos Lay, caused guilt in consumers. Therefore, its consumption was affected (specifically, in the packaging launched in 2008).
These containers, at the neural level, activated an area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex directly related to this type of feeling.
By changing packaging and using a matte one with images of potatoes and other ingredients, this area of the brain was not activated (that is, the magnetic fields did not detect oxygen consumption in this area).
Another example comes from the hand of Hyundai Motors.
Using the electroencephalogram (EEG), this company studied the brain reaction of consumers by measuring the potential evoked by looking at vehicle designs even before manufacturing them.
Imagine the economic savings that this entails.
The same previous technique was used by Yahoo , in a campaign where it showed a video of happy people.
This helped him to choose well what time they were going to launch it.
The Paypal company has a very fast payment system, a quality in which they invested a lot, but a lot of money.
Why? Because it is something well known that in just thousandths of seconds a user can back out and leave the shopping cart.
Microsoft also uses EEG to measure the reactions of XBOX players , advantageous analysis by giving us real-time data, and something that doesn’t happen to others.
The last example of neuromarketing comes from the super car maker Ford.
Using various techniques, this giant was able to verify that when consumers observed sports cars, areas of the brain related to pleasure were activated (the same ones that are activated with sex and cocaine, for example).
All these examples and data can be an important preliminary step to later create an attraction marketing strategy in which words, colors, messages, etc. are used. closely linked to consumer emotion.
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How To Apply Neuromarketing in Your e-Commerce?
When thinking about applying this type of marketing, many companies are dedicated to copying the largest in terms of design, text font, colors, etc., something that is not always a good idea.
For a simple reason: the company you are copying to has most likely done some previous research and made decisions regarding its target audience, its brand, its own products, etc.
And beware: I’m not saying that copying is wrong, but if you already have a certain volume of sales, the ideal is to hire a neuromarketing company to carry out a more in-depth and tailored study.
Neuromarketing can show significant advances in the online world precisely because of the availability of instruments to which we have access. Thanks to this, the cost is low and conclusive studies can be easily reached.
But let’s see what some experts in neuromarketing advise, and how to apply them on your website or eCommerce.
Use the A / B Test in your online store and start collecting data
Bart Schutz, famous psychologist of Online Dialogue, says that “the Internet is the largest laboratory in the world”, where millions of studies and A / B tests are done every day in eCommerce (such as Amazon or Booking).
In this test you can see how two users who are in the same house see their websites slightly differently from each other by making a reservation on Booking.
Those minimal differences (small nuances in the color, shape or type of a purchase button) can turn into million-dollar gains or losses in a matter of days.
Use the Empathy Map You Made in The Business Model
It is well known that, both to generate engagement and to improve the inbound of our company, content marketing is essential, and not only because of the importance of SEO and traffic, but because, as José Ruiz de Golineuro states:
Not only do you have to write thinking about a subject but also what moves my potential reader to read and continue reading. And it’s not just about the topic and the quality of the content: above both things you have to write with the motivation of the reader in mind.
The human being initiates a behavior because there is previously a motivation.
A blog or a website must be oriented to the motivation of the reader.
In this sense, Google has a lot to say, since it sometimes positions short content better, but focused on the utility for the user, than those long ones where the abandonment rate is higher.
Adapting content to improve the user experience is, plain and simple, improving the experience that we transmit as a brand.
Use Simple Fonts
The use of fonts in your eCommerce is somewhat controversial and depends on both the product and the values of your company or brand.
Studies by Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan concluded that smooth and easy reading using simple fonts favored the purchasing decision process for users , helping to streamline their drive and action.
In companies where action, sports, or where aggressiveness is rewarded are promoted, for example, fonts with a sharp style. In others where comfort is promoted, instead, you can choose a rounded font.
On the other hand, and although it is paradoxical, we have the well-known Roger Dooley telling us that when a user needs more attention and concentration to read something or process some type of information, it retains it better in memory.
Although this is true (based on multiple experiments in basic psychology), it may not be very beneficial to the user experience. Not even if I remember it better …
To Conclude, I Will Tell You The Story Of The Curious Baby
As an anecdote, and to end today’s topic, I would like to rescue a test carried out by the specialist James Breeze, who, using the famous heatmaps tools, obtained very interesting results after analyzing more than 100 subjects.
During this test, each person in the sample was shown a pair of very similar images.
In both, a baby appeared, but the difference was in where the baby was looking.
In the first image, his gaze was directed at the test subject, while in the second he focused on the owner of a website or an advertisement.
The results, needless to say, were conclusive.
When the subjects saw the image in which the baby was facing them, they did not pay much attention to the website or the advertisement.
But when it was the turn of the image in which the baby stared at the ad, the subjects directed their gaze to where the baby did it, paying much more attention to the web or to said ad.
I did not want to say goodbye without first sharing with you this valuable reflection, which I find very interesting.