Ever wondered why we make those impulse buys, why we choose one colour over another and why some brands resonate with us whilst others don’t?
The truth is, whilst we like to think that our decisions are underpinned by logic, a lot of the time our decision making is actually driven by our subconscious minds. In fact, Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95% percent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious.
Over the last decade, marketeers have caught onto the idea of looking into consumer ‘brainfluences’ to predict consumer preferences. This has led to a newfound and exciting way of conducting market research known as neuromarketing.
What Is Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing, or consumer neuroscience, explores how we can use neuroscience to examine how our minds work and gain insight into consumer behaviour.
Whilst traditional market research relies on the likes of engagement analytics and surveys, neuromarketing uses advanced scientific metrics such as heart rate monitoring, facial expressions tracking, eye-tracking, electroencephalograms (EEGs) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
In essence, neuromarketing looks into the nitty-gritty of what makes us tick and can be an incredibly useful tool for gathering consumer insight.
How Has Neuromarketing Been Used So Far?
Neuromarketing is a very pricey method of market research and only super brands such as Coca-Cola, Yahoo and Facebook have been able to check out the field so far.
In 2018, Hyundai created a unique experiment to find out what consumers would consider as the most positive colour. In the experiment, participants were placed in a blank room that lit up one colour at a time. These participants were also hooked up to EEGs, that read the electrical activity inside their brains, and other bio-sensory tools that read heart rate and galvanic skin response. Hyundai were then able to extract emotional data as to what the individual was feeling in response to a certain colour i.e., bored, excited, relaxed or focused. The result: the colour blue was found to be the happiest colour. Despite ‘feeling blue’ giving it a bad rep, blue was found to be stimulating, energising and comforting. Since the experiment, Hyundai have injected touches of blue through its vehicles.
Hilton Hotels have been another to experiment with neuromarketing. In 2020, during a conference in Liverpool, guests toured around displays and event stands. Hilton Hotels had placed 24 carefully positioned cameras that tracked each person’s movements and changes in expression as they moved between stalls. This Zenus Emotion AI technology was able to monitor even the most subtle of contractions in an individual’s facial muscles. By using facial expressions tracking to gauge how guests were feeling, the results found that a puppies-and-ice-cream stall was more engaging than the open bar. Though sounding a touch trivial (I know), the same system can be used to detect threat at border checkpoints, evaluate job candidates and monitor levels of boredom.
Once more, in 2021, Procter & Gamble used an eye-tracking software to monitor participant eye movement and focus when watching some P&G mobile ads. The tool was able to detect which parts of the ads were more engaging and how consumer gaze patterns changed over time. This allowed P&G to tailor their content to better capture consumer attention and evoke the desired emotional response.
The Future Of Neuromarketing
Neuromarketing is an advanced method of helping brands to further personalise messages to suit individual customers, understand their emotional responses and use that data to better design products and services. Over the coming years, neuromarketing is expected to witness exponential growth and has a predicted 2029 market worth of USD 2.41 billion.
That said, looking scientifically into consumer emotions is a difficult metric to capture and far too out of budget for most. However, what we can take away from this emerging discipline is the idea that forging an emotional connection with audiences adds tremendous value.
Consumers are more driven by emotional responses than we think. The 2024 marketing statistics show:
- Ads portraying above-average emotional responses have a 23% potential sales increase
- Negative headlines have 30% higher click-through rates than ones with positive superlatives
- 82% of highly emotional brand-engaged consumers buy from their brand based on loyalty
So, the science shows that emotions get the better of us. Building trust, echoing warm values, sparking excitement or even outrage is what draws customers the most. Putting emphasis on what you want to make your target audience feel and how you are going to make them feel that way should be an essential in your PR and marketing strategy.
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