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Neuromarketing Nation: How Emotions Influence Your Buying Decisions

How often do you find yourself standing in a store and thinking that you absolutely have to have a certain product? Nine times out of ten, the product we’re contemplating is something we want, not something we need.

How many commercials have you sat through and experienced an emotional connection that led to you buy the product? When the price between products is not an issue and quality is the same, we tend to take time and make a precise decision and purchase the “better” product, even though it may be something as simple as trying to decide between dish soaps.

Or, do you ever find yourself stuck when (logically) one purchase makes more sense than the other? Or go to the store for milk and come out with a long receipt and a cart of purchases? Why is it we tend to go with the emotions attached to the things we buy? Since one of America’s most cherished events, Black Friday, has officially passed, I want to try to dissect the average shopping experience of all the consumers in America and really try to understand why we shop and purchase the things that we do.

Neuromarketing may replace traditional surveys someday.

Neuromarketing may replace traditional surveys someday.

All of the above instances are perfect examples of how emotional marketing has worked time and time again. Neuromarketing, the process of researching consumer brain patterns to understand buying decisions and/or responses to specific ads, is an ongoing trend that is the most successful form of marketing to consumers. Conventionally, marketers and advertisers used consumer group test bases and research as a means of finding out the positive reaction and success to products. In the 1950s, most ad campaigns utilized how well a product worked and how much people liked it. Today, in order to stand out, it has taken science to get a brand noticed and make a brand truly be noticed and succeed.

Because of our progress with science and technology, we are now able to precisely pinpoint what causes the emotional part of our brains to respond and decide what we do based on feelings we have by using something called Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). When using an MRI to see of the blood fluctuations and neural activity, scientists can find out by simply looking at your brain for an emotional response instead of asking people or test subjects if they like a product. And it doesn’t just stop with people either; some have used neuromarketing on animals as well! They also use Galvanic Skin Response, EEG (Electroencephalography), SST (Steady State Topography) and Eye Tracking. There are already a handful of brands using neuromarketing today.

The way we perceive things also plays a major role in neuromarketing. Ever notice how often brands and products change their design? Wal-Mart, Pepsi and McDonald’s are huge examples because they’ve changed their logo design through the years, and Wal-Mart and McDonald’s even added a comforting building redesign to their locations. Pepsi has redesigned their logo so often I can’t remember a time one stuck around long enough for me to get sick of it!

Fear is a common emotion utilized by marketers.

Fear is a common emotion utilized by marketers.

Using this kind of science puts marketers at an extreme advantage, because now they have the ability to use all of our emotional senses to get us hooked. Typically, we think we buy simply for joy or pleasure. But in actuality, the biggest emotion that marketers utilize is FEAR. Fear is the most accessible and important emotion we have as a means of survival. Marketers do this by claiming that problems will be encountered if you do not buy their products. Guilt is another huge emotion that marketers play on — you may feel guilty for not being home with your kids very often, but you do the best you can by filling that void of absence with toys or electronics. Pride is another big one because it gives everyone the mindset that they “deserve” the best.

Why should you pay attention to this new science called neuromarketing? Because like it or not, it is here to stay.

Here’s how you take what you’ve learned about neuromarketing and apply elements of it to your own company:

Be considerate! If your brand only screams “YOU” and “ME,” then be prepared to lose business. Engross, participate, and incorporate the rest of the world! “You” and “ME” is singled out and isolated. “Everyone” is inviting and we all know that being a part of something is better than being apart from everything.

• Make everything about your website user-friendly, get a lot of insight from consumers, and see just how functional it is from a third-party perspective. Be mindful of what links you use and what your content really conveys to your customers. Make sure the content is also consistent and coherent, and optimize it for minimal confusion and frustration. If the site is too busy but easy to use, then it may still need some work. Too much clutter may make the average consumer overwhelmed.

Do your research! There is a plethora of data out there about neuromarketing. This is key to making simplicity and satisfaction a huge factor for you and your business. This is also important to the design and feel of your brand as well. Every little thing counts, from fonts to color, because they are all factors in getting your brand noticed.

• I want it NOW! Sorry to say, but we are a nation of instant gratification and satisfaction. Instead of fighting it, we have to feed it. If satisfaction seems far and something worth waiting for, then the word “wait” is the kiss of death. We have slightly become a post-patience nation. In a culture that prides itself on productivity, no one has time to wait for gratification. So, your wisest move is to get everything done right, and quickly!

Years ago, the science and understanding about neuroscience was minimal. It was such a new technology that it did not benefit small businesses. Though it is still a new technology today, it has proven itself to be an important one. There are now enough resources and advancements that we are able to access and utilize no matter what our business or size. Today, we have the means to understand at length and depth the importance of neuromarketing.

Have you heard of other ways marketers are using neuromarketing to reach customers? What are your thoughts?


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  1. Joseph Giorgi

    “Sorry to say, but we are a nation of instant gratification and satisfaction. Instead of fighting it, we have to feed it.”

    Far and away my favorite line. Well put!

    Inasmuch as it allows savvy marketers to better understand and cater to the human need for gratification, neuromarketing seems like an intriguing area of study. Sure, one could argue the irresponsibility of exploiting science for the sake of consumerism, but at the end of the day, it’s tough to argue against a practice that produces results and does no real harm.

    I’d go as far as to say that I’m a fan of neuromarketing. 😉

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Woo! He is a fan! I wish I could have put a little more information here but I felt there was already so much that I did not want to hurt anyone’s brains! This is only a sliver, I am pretty sure this is only Webster’s Dictionary definition of Neuromarketing there are so many more areas. What amazes me for something that is so simple (advertising to emotion), it is so amazingly complex. Which is why I am guessing you are a fan. You, an average Joe on the outside with a depth and complexity of layers, onions themselves stand in awe. 🙂

  2. Cybernetic SAM

    I think mister Giorgi is a fan of an elite exclusive group. Marketing according to to Joe being “a fan” or not sounds like an even better scientific route. I agree, I have always taken away from a lot of marketing campaigns the “me” factor. I was always under the impression that everyone wants to be unique, and ahead of the trend. But, we also have been shown time and time again that staying a part of a mass trend is a significant portion of human existence.

    I think it is hard for people like you and I to understand that type of mental marketing. I think that this type of marketing exists, because of people like us. We are the difficult masses that show resistance, which is why they had to resort to scanning our brains to figure out what we want.

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Hey it is a good thing as I said, you and I, and I wouldn’t say difficult I’d say People like us know what we want, so I would be more prone to say women like us are “determined”. Seriously, the way you write stuff, you are much like me, when you know it there is determination and perseverance! and there is nothing wrong with that! 🙂

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    I was also surprised that fear was the biggest motivator. But as I think about it, I suppose we buy things because we fear that we won’t be as cool, as pretty, as smart, or as savvy as the other people out there.

    As the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, I can definitely see this becoming the most popular (if not only) way to study consumer feedback. Who wants to rely on surveys when we can scan brains?!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      My thoughts exactly had you been looking at a n MRI of mine you would be able to tell I am pleased by your comment. I think most people are surprised that fear is the biggest motivator, but think about it, people are afraid to age, to be alone, to be attacked and to die so these are things that can be manipulated sooooo easily to get you to buy their product I think the best example is home security system commercials:!

  4. david k waltz

    There is a field of study called behavioral finance which focuses on how people make financial decisions in fact (i.e. by studying behavior) as opposed to the “rational” person, which most economic and finance theory is based.

    Framing things as losses as opposed to gains can make a big difference in the alternative selected.

    See under the Experimental Demonstration section for an example.

    This post also reminds me of something I ran across the other day, where there were eye movement studies on old and new Facebook pages, where they go to first, then second, etc. Very intersting for a web designer!

    Thanks – very thought provoking!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      You’re most welcome and thank you for sharing. That is very interesting about Facebook I am becoming more and more alarmed, yet intrigued to the science of social networking as time goes on it never ceases to amaze me with what they come out with next. As for the emotional finance I think that is very true, if I had a dime for people I knew that would rather go into deep financial debt (or already are) and still are willing to rack up the bill as long as the get that 70″ flat screen.

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