Neuromarketing and the “Buy” Button

What if there was a “buy button” in our brains? It’s every marketer’s dream. Just imagine if you could discover those hot buttons that will drive people to buy certain products or vote for a particular candidate. It’s not fantasy actually. There’s a science for that.

Neuromarketing is a field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective, or emotional, response to marketing stimuli. Essentially, neuromarketing is trying to figure out how we subconsciously respond to certain messages and stimuli. Through the findings, neuromarketing companies learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what parts of the brain are motivating them to do so. Neurobranding then uses these findings to create products that people will want to buy and messaging they will respond to.

Buying decisions reflect feelings and beliefs. For example, through neuromarketing research Frito-Lay discovered that shiny chips packaging triggers an area in the brain associated with guilt while matte beige bags of chips picturing potatoes and other “healthy” ingredients didn’t trigger the same feelings of guilt. Similarly, a study of 600 women who got an empty Tiffany box found out that when receiving the box, their heart rate went up by 20%. Even thought there was no logo on the box, their reaction was associated with the color which triggered the emotional association women have with engagement, marriage or children.

Our brain has adapted to spend as little energy as possible to process sensory information. Science has found that the non-conscious brain (what they call the “old brain’ or the reptilian brain) is actually the real decision maker. The same senses of flight or fight that helped our ancestor survive millions of years ago is still at work today in the complex world of consumerism. In fact, your “reptilian” brain knows what you want 2 seconds before you do!

Neurobranding is essentially learning how to talk to the old brain effectively and stimulate it so it responds quickly. Here are six stimuli that the old brain responds to:

  • Me – People love to talk about themselves. Make sure to direct the message to them and they are more likely to pay attention.
  • Contrast – The old brain responds to contrast. Think of all those before and after ads. That’s a good example of using contrast.
  • Tangible – Make sure what you are communicating is easily understood and has tangible benefits. The old brain doesn’t understand numbers and abstract terms, you have to tell the customer what he/she will see, hear, smell, feel or taste as a result.
  • Beginning and End – Most people will have a good memory of beginnings and endings but not so much about the middle.
  • Visual – A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Emotion – People respond strongly to emotions.

Want to see neurobranding in action? Check out this Old Spice ad and try to spot how many of these stimuli the company used.