Yes, we are all consumers. Whether we buy a pound of apples, a gallon of water, or milk, a car, a cell phone, a computer, a house, a pair of pants, shoes, etc, shopping either in person or online, is a huge part of our everyday life. Every day we are exposed to hundreds of messages from different companies, marketers and advertisers, enticing us to buy even more, each of them wanting us to buy their products and not their competitors’. More brands are being created every day, and we are exposed to them right away, through the power of the Internet.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how are we able to remember all that we see, all that we hear? We are exposed to so many things, and how do our brains work for us to choose some products over others?
Some large companies, in addition to marketers, have hired scientists to run numerous studies about how our brains are constantly collecting and filtering information. Think of the brain as a huge capacity computer that chooses to store some bits of the information it receives in long-term storage; some is kept in an active file while most of the information is put in the trash bin. Our brains do this without us even realizing it, because this process is unconscious and it happens in an instant.
Marketing companies have invested large amounts of money to figure out how exactly consumers’ brains work and what makes them choose one product over another or one brand over another., It’s a delicate balance between the science behind market research and understanding human psychology, and understanding this can bring all the answers we need Neuromarketing is the science that reveals our subconscious thoughts, feelings and desires that drive our buying decisions that we make each and every day of our lives.
Big companies are willing to pay great sums of money to get these answers and see neuromarketing as a tool to help their marketing departments find out what consumers are thinking about when a new product or service is presented to us.
Why is this important and relevant to us as sales professionals? Because the more we understand our own subconscious behavior as it relates to consumerism, whether it’s understanding why we buy a designer bag or how we relate to and assess a potential client, we will have more control over our choices and over how we interact with others. The more we understand why we make our own choices regarding buying things, the better we will be able to develop certain strategies to sell things to others.
The more we as entrepreneurs learn about our subconscious habits, needs and desires, the more we will create useful and meaningful products and services to bring to our clients, and will be able to satisfy their needs and wants. What marketers want and what we, as entrepreneurs, want as well is to provide our clients products and services that they fall in love with, things that engage them emotionally and that enhance their lives.
Still, the most commonly used methods to find out what a buyer wants, is to observe their habits and behaviors or asking them directly. With neuromarketing, scientists and marketers together can dive deeper into their quest to understand the thoughts, feelings, motivation, needs and desires in all of us and the multitude of subconscious forces that motivate us to buy.
Here are some neuromarketing techniques that marketers and neuroscientists have used to help companies understand their clients better. By learning these techniques it will help you to better understand your potential client’s needs and will learn exactly how to sell to them what they want and need.
1. Eye Tracking – helps marketers see things through the customer’s eyes by following the eye movements of people participating in an eye tracking program. It is a tool that allows a company to see through their potential clients’ eyes, not only in laboratories, but in real purchasing scenarios as well. As modern eye tracking devices are very small and light, the participants in the programs would wear these devices while going shopping or watching TV. Based on the data collected, marketers can answer a series of questions:
How much attention did participants pay to items promoted near a store’s entrance, for example? Do people really read posters and billboards, on the side of the road or do they just glance at them without reading the words? How do they distribute their attention when choosing a product from a shelf in a store or an online shop? Do they pay attention to product placement when watching TV?
As you can see, eye tracking opens a whole world of possibilities for marketing studies.
2. Pupillometry – looks at the size of a person’s pupils to see if they are dilated or not. The reason that this metric is important is because a normal human’s pupils dilate when they are looking at something they like. This can be useful in marketing because, not only does it indicate whether people like a product, but also it can be used to optimize many things, from websites, to branding colors, to product packaging, etc. Having a visually pleasing website or advertisement will generate a greater rate of engagement from the public. This in turn can increase brand awareness and sales.
This technique is relatively inexpensive for a large company and It can also be used together with other neuromarketing tools such as eye tracking.
3. EEG or Functional MRI-Not only can we learn what people are looking at and if they like what they see, but we can also get clues as to what they are thinking while they’re seeing certain things, by using devices that specialize in reading the brain’s electromagnetic activity, such as functional MRIs or electroencephalograms (EEG). Marketers use these tools to really get to know consumers’ preferences, like if they feel attracted or repelled by a certain image, projection, or color and whether a brand makes them feel bored. Similarly, these tools can identify when images, colors, object placement etc, stimulate responses of joy or excitement. In the end, with these specialized tools, marketers can obtain the answers to the same questions as traditional marketing studies provide, but with much greater accuracy and scientific data to support these findings. Both these techniques have advantages and disadvantages.
The electroencephalogram is very time-sensitive and accurate – it can relate a stimulant to its reaction almost immediately, which is what makes it so useful to figure out exactly what element provides which kinds of responses from the person participating. However, when it comes to locating which area of the brain causes that reaction, its precision is not as precise.
The functional MRI tells marketers and scientists exactly which parts of the brain are being activated, but doesn’t offer the time-sensitive accuracy that is offered with the EEG.
4. Facial Coding – There is also a process called facial coding, which has been used for many years in crime investigations and interrogation techniques, however these days it has crossed into marketing and consumer behaviorism. Have you heard the saying: A Smile Is Worth a Thousand Words? This has always been the case, but now neuromarketing has changed the art of interpreting facial expressions into something of a science. Just as neuromarketing techniques can be used to measure eye movements and brain activity, they can also be used to “read faces” with unprecedented precision. The way it works is simple: when we show emotions on our face, either with a smile, showing anger, sadness, laughing, etc, we use our facial muscles. By using sensors, these subtle muscle movements can be accurately measured to detect expressions and emotions that people aren’t even aware they are feeling. Of course, a small smile or a grin won’t show the absolute truth of what a person is feeling at that given moment, but facial coding helps marketers by reading and interpreting subtle reactions that offer insights on people’s opinions. They are sometimes even able to predict the behavior that will follow.
5. Sensory Marketing – has more of a practical, functional application. By taking the results obtained through neuromarketing, companies can impact consumers without them feeling any direct impact. There are several forms of sensory marketing, such as through touch, sound, or smell, all of them based on influencing the audience to think of a certain brand in the presence of sensory stimulations. Smell is a perfect example of the use of sensory marketing. Sometimes, getting a customer to make a purchase is as easy as influencing their senses with the right fragrance. A very common example are supermarkets who enhance the smell of fresh bread to attract people to the bakery section and encourage them to purchase. Sounds are also a very useful resource – look at Starbucks and Olive Garden as they always play the same songs in the background, specially chosen to make their clients purchase more often by enticing them to spend more time on their premises. As a fun fact, it’s also been shown that consumers pay more attention to lighter colored objects when they hear high pitched sounds, and darker objects when they hear low pitched sounds.
Isn’t this interesting?
6. Neuromarketing Tricks – Last of all, we are going to address the psychological tricks used by neuromarketing to boost sales. Psychological neuromarketing techniques can be very subtle. For example, it has been shown that removing the dollar or other currency symbol from the price tag of a product can make consumers purchase more. It seems that the currency symbol makes people think more about losing money than about what they will gain by buying the product, so by not seeing the symbol, their brains don’t make that association anymore. Out of sight, out of mind. Another surprising example is the organization and structure of restaurant menus. It’s been shown that visitors have higher chances of choosing healthy options when these are shown on the left-hand side of the menu than if they are on the right-hand side.
Have you ever paid attention to the department stores in the mall? Neuromarketing studies have shown that women are far more likely to make the final shopping decisions in these department stores. When going up or down on an escalator, women’s eyes tend to look toward the right when getting off an escalator… Pay attention to product placement in your large department stores, like Macy’s or Nordstrom. It is less likely to observe these trends with smaller companies because they either don’t know these selling techniques nor do they have the funds to invest in doing these marketing studies In our local Macy’s, if you enter through the main entrance upstairs from the mall to the right are brands like Michael Kors, Tommy Bahama, and other upscale brands that Macy’s sells. If you enter the stores through the upstairs but use the main entrance coming from the outside parking lot you will notice to the right, there is the women’s shoe department. Coming up on the escalator from the lower floor, on the right there is the cosmetics and fragrance department, while going down the escalator, immediately to the right the first thing you see is the men’s fragrance department. All these departments placed to the right of floor entry are Macy’s high-end items, and they are placed strategically in each store based on marketing results showing the clients tendency to look or go to the right when entering the store or coming up or down the escalator.
Through these examples you can see that a variety of neuromarketing techniques can be used to track and trend consumer habits which in turn can drive higher sales.
Author: Sanda Kruger
Sanda is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, health coach and professional dancer. Sanda is an entrepreneur with more than 20-year experience in business development and project management in the fields of life, health and fitness coaching. She is also a real estate investor and a banker, who learned outstanding adapted business strategies, sales and marketing techniques, communication, and goal setting skills, hands-on, through life and work experiences. She is a certified fitness professional and is the creator of two original fitness programs, called BellyCore® Fitness and AquaCor®.