Written By: Matthew Hemmings, Columnist, International Director
Often, when people from two knowledge areas collaborate and those knowledge areas intersect, new areas of knowledge and breakthroughs emerge. One such area of knowledge and its associated practices that has appeared in recent years is neuromarketing. Neuroscience and marketing have intertwined and enabled specialists to devise new tools for organizations. Those tools can be leveraged for optimal marketing effectiveness and satisfying customers at deep psychological levels.
Since the beginning of its inception, marketing has been about understanding customers better and meeting their needs in exchange for profit. It was founded on the premise that for organizations to generate real value for customers, they need to go in depth and know their customers closely. And there was no better way to achieve that objective than using neuroscience knowledge and technologies, such as neuroimaging.
Understanding the subjective experience of customers is no longer a problem.
One of the challenges that marketers face on a regular basis is understanding what customers truly want, particularly when even customers are unable to articulate their desires. To make this challenge harder, customers often do not know how much they are willing to pay for it—regardless of what itis.
By using two neuroimaging technologies: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), marketers now can have the answers they need by reading a prospect’s brain activity. This enables organizations to understand the subjective experience of customers and know to what they respond the most.
Intense competition for consumers’ attention
In today’s market conditions, consumer attention is something for which all companies are competing, and it is quite limited. And marketers need to perfect every detail in their marketing communications to win in that competition. Research on children’s education shows that if you can capture children’s attention long enough, you can teach them anything. A similar concept can apply to adults: if you can catch the attention of consumers, you are likely to sway their purchasing decisions.
Neuromarketing yields useful insights.
Neuromarketing has given marketers lots of interesting insights and enabled their marketing campaigns to succeed. For example, neuromarketing gave marketers a hint that using a baby face looking directly at the viewer in an advertisementcan significantly enhance consumer attention to the ads. Engagement with advertisements becomes much better following applications.
Neuromarketing has also helped marketers make the best choice about packaging design, by exposing consumers to different designs and recording their brain activity for their responses. The experiment was often then supplemented by an interview to get an in-depth knowledge ofwhat specific changes in design elicited the strongest responses. Companies such as Campbell Soup, Gerber and Frito-Lay have applied this successfully and optimized their packaging designs, replacing the ones already on the market. Even PayPal used a similar approach to design ads on its website and change its existing ads after discovering that ads that focused on speed and convenience received the highest response rate.
A widerange of applications
In fact, all kinds of sensory input can be optimized to get customers’ attention. Aside from images used in marketing communications, the fonts also need to be chosen carefully in order to engage customers and get them to act on what is written. The results of experiments in this area show that simple, easy-to-read fonts are the most effective in prompting readers to act on instructions or calls to action. This applies toboth documents and website content. But this is not to say that complex fonts should not be used. In fact, complex fonts work better in helping customers remember information over the long-term.
Neuromarketers can also shift customer focus by using the right sounds with the right characteristics. An experiment found that music with strong bass makes people more likely to shift their attention to dark (or dark-colored) objects, whereas music with high frequencies shifts attention to light (or light-colored) objects. This happens at a subconscious level—i.e., customers do not make a conscious choice to shift their attention to dark or light objects. And this makes it a powerful approach. Marketers can use this by placing the items they want to sell on light or dark shelves and then playing the right music. The results can even double the sales.
The above examples are just a few of the many actions that organizations can take to optimize their marketing performance. There are other examples, such as pointing viewers’ attention in the right direction by pointing the gaze of the person in the ad in that direction, to displaying less serious facial features such as smiling. The opportunities that neuromarketing offers are countless.
Neuromarketing can enable your organization to achieve its marketing objectives with much less resistance from customers. It can be used in different areas such as designing packaging, creating ads or decorating sales points with the right colors and playing the right music. The results are established by science, and customer engagement is often remarkable.
But caution is advised. Advances in neuroscience have been enabled mostly by available neuroimaging technologies, but those technologies are not perfect. Specialized medical professionals have even criticized fMRI for its shortcomings. Sometimes, for example, the software gives a signal when there isn’t one (a false positive). But in practice, electroencephalogram (EEG) technology, through which electrodes read the brain’s electrical activity, offers straightforward results, and it is the main method used in neuromarketing. There is certainly room for improvement, but the benefits are already established—as grabbing customers’ attention opens the gates of influence.