A good part of the efficiency of our brain lies in the fact that it is capable of making a shortcut through reality and use learned patterns, emotions and old instincts to build a context within which we can take the daily decisions in our lives.
The so-called neuromarketing works with these elements and how they interact in our mind and in the anatomy of our brain. In this lecture, Amy Africa, an executive of Eight by Eight, presented the principal phenomena that occur in our unconscious mind and which determine the mental strategies of buying and consuming. She further discussed how to apply it to shopperdirected marketing. Check out the main points:
• We are all self-centered. Our brain is always thinking about four things and how they affect us: flee, fight, eat or the reproductive act. This is instinct, or rather, on each interaction, we run a little program that asks; Is this edible? Is this going to eat ME? And so on, and so forth. This constant exercise can be tiring. So, for this reason, when we go shopping – when we are in the buying process – we prefer to shop (hence: buy) in familiar places, known to us and without risk;
• We prefer the black and white contrast, not the shades of gray for taking rapid decisions. Complex situations perturb us and cause us to abandon the purchase. For this reason, successful sites have buttons of the kind “go to checkout now!”. Amy even bet with the audience that whatever item was ranked first in the online store would sell 75% more, for the simple fact of being first;
• We are visual. Videos work in the world of e-commerce because people use this sense much more than the rest. According to the lecturer, medical studies show that the visual cortex (the part of the brain that processes images, transforming them into thoughts) is 40 times faster than the non specialized cortex. Apart from this, you cannot un-see what you have already seen – and the visual cortex is also very powerful at creating memories;
• We look for patterns. Over human evolution, we have developed the ability of connecting causes and effects and of seeking out patterns in all these answers from nature. For this reason, if a retailer gets the order wrong twice, we believe that he will make a third mistake. It is important to be consistent [but not consistently wrong];
• We like tangible things. Abstract concepts that hide a series of other concepts behind them are difficult to understand and break our attention. When we are advertising something, we must be direct; we should try to write without using abstract terms that remove the consumer from our field of influence;
• We like limits. When we put something on offer for a limited period, the chances of success are much greater than when we don’t say when the offer will end; • We like short cuts. On planning the interaction with the shopper, we should foresee what shortcuts they would like to take, particularly in e-commerce and anticipate the path of the shopper;
• We are emotional beings that think and not the contrary. Emotions are superimposed over our thoughts. Amy asked the audience where they had been on the 11 September 2001. Everyone knew the answer. When an emotion is associated with an event, the memory is much stronger. The challenge is how we can use this in favor of the retailer;
• We are immediate. In fact we prefer to put the present first. Thus, whether you are a manufacturer of healthy products or a producer of fruit and vegetables, you should create strategies to make the benefits of the products more visible now and not over the long term;
• The fear of losing is stronger than the possibility of winning. Would you have an operation that had a 90% chance of success? Probably. But if the surgery had a 10% chance of failing? Probably not. The way we put things makes a different
• We respond to status because it gives us the comfort of making a superficial evaluation of reality;
• Reciprocity has an immense power. A hotel made a test by putting a notice in the bathroom saying “reuse your towel more than once and we will make a donation to entity X”. Result: 0% of reuse. When the same hotel wrote “reuse your towel and we will give $1 to entity X” 45% of guests reused the towels;
• Scarcity works. If we have two jars of biscuits and one of them has just two biscuits left, while the other is full, we believe that the first has the best biscuits. At times, less is more.
My view: Neuromarketing is fundamentally based on neurolinguistics. It is difficult to put such a vast and interesting subject into a 40-minute lecture. Therefore, here is my tip for those wishing to delve deeper: read the classic authors on the subject, such as Joseph O’Connor (Neurolinguist) and Antonio Damasio (O Erro de Descartes). And for more on how to apply this to retail, it is worth discovering Marc Gobé – the master of a generation of neuromarketeers that are focused on the design of products and points-of-sale. In the book Shopper marketing – The new integrated marketing strategy for conquering the customer at the point-of-sale (Ed. Atlas/2011, from this author), there are also applications of neuromarketing for generating retail insights – well worth checking out!
Originally published at Mundo do Marketing website in 1/18/2012