Marketing Brand Purpose Brand Safety

Branding and the brain: how to use neuromarketing to shape your strategy

By Margo Waldrop | Content Writer

May 16, 2023 | 10 min read

Neuromarketing looks at how companies can influence customers on a psychological level. Learn how your brand can use neuromarketing to shape your brand’s marketing strategy.

How to use neuromarketing for your brand

How to use neuromarketing for your brand / Adobe Stock

Neuromarketing, or consumer neuroscience, is the study of the brain by evaluating neural and physiological signs to help understand consumer behavior. It is a delicate balance of marketing, neuroscience and psychology.

The goal of neuromarketing is to influence consumer decisions through neuro signals that tap into the evolutionary biology of the brain. In other words, brands want people to buy stuff based on their natural instincts. It’s not a bad plan considering that neuromarketing was valued at $2.4bn in 2021 and expected to reach $21bn by 2030. Taking into account that possibly 95% of consumer decisions are based on unconscious bias versus conscious thought, neuromarketing is certainly worth a go.

Ethical? Not ethical? The debate may never be settled but consider that it’s no different from normal advertising which is intended to dive into a consumer’s emotional wheelhouse. Emotional manipulation in marketing has been around since the very first paper advertisement and will continue to ride the rails for as long as there are brands and consumers. Remember the SPCA commercial featuring sad dogs and an even sadder Sarah McLachlan song? Advertising has always gone for the emotional throat of consumers and with neuromarketing, the brain is the target.

How neuromarketing works

The purpose of neuromarketing is to understand the consumer brain. How it thinks and responds to the multitude of advertising stimuli thrown at it on a daily basis. Worried about the effectiveness of your website homepage? How about understanding why your recent Facebook ad didn’t hit its mark? Want to learn what colors your target audience responds to the best? What emotions they feel when watching your latest commercial? All of this and more can be learned through neuromarketing.

Some of the techniques used for neuromarketing data, include:

  • EGG (electroencephalogram): Records electrical signs on the scalp from neurons within the brain

  • fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging): Measures increased neural activity by detecting blood flow to the brain

  • Eye-tracking: Technology that detects where eyes rest or scan on specific items. Heat mapping tools use this technology to determine what parts of a website page or ad content gets the most or least attention from visitors

  • Facial coding: Identifies emotional responses through facial expressions

  • Pupillometry: Measures dilation of pupils in response to visual stimuli

  • Biometrics: Measurement of respiration, heart rate, and skin conductance

All the above technologies are useful for understanding recall, level of engagement, emotional responses, interests and preferences. Putting this to work for you means improving your ads, websites, campaigns and more. Whatever your marketing heart desires.

Benefits of neuromarketing

One of the major advantages of neuromarketing is the ability to take consumer responses out of the equation, so to speak. Instead of relying on test subjects to accurately report their emotions, neuromarketing allows brands to discover insights from a subconscious level by measuring consumers’ physiological reactions to visual or auditory components.

The application of neuromarketing is meant to achieve the following:

  • Subconscious, strong physiological response to brand stimuli

  • The activation of the automatic response that requires little to no deliberate thought

  • Formation of visceral, emotional response within the brain

  • Self-image congruity - the congruence of brand personality and self-concept that consumers experience or feel while forming a relationship with a brand

This hidden science helps to measure visceral responses instead of conscious ones. Reactionary versus thoughtful choices. It’s the place where brands want to be, that knee-jerk reaction of needing to purchase. The sweet spot of consumerism.

Examples of neuromarketing are endless, with companies from Frito-Lay to Facebook utilizing neuro research to improve everything from store displays, packaging, social posts, advertising, store layout to product production.

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How to use neuromarketing

Fortunately, there is no need to run out and rent a lab and hire a bunch of scientists, the principles of neuromarketing can be easily applied to your marketing strategies.

  1. Restructure your photo content: Depending on your goals, some ad photos can be adjusted to better direct the eye. For example, research has shown that, in ads, if the person in the photo is looking directly out to the viewer, then the viewer’s focus is on the subject’s face instead of the content of the ad. However, if the person in the photo is looking at or toward the ad content, then viewers follow suit and focus on the ad content.

  2. Use eye-tracking tools: Heatmap tools such as Hotjar and Crazy Egg measure your viewers’ gaze so you can learn what part of the content attracts the most attention and what sections cause user attention to drop.

  3. Utilize color psychology: Color psychology focuses on the impact that colors make on consumers regarding brand or product impressions. Different colors symbolize different emotional reactions so choosing colors that exemplify your brand, product, and personality will help build brand awareness.

  4. Tap into your customer’s emotional base: Shared emotions help build lasting bonds by relating the consumer to the brand. If you understand ‘why’ consumers purchase your products you can create marketing content that further incites the emotions needed to encourage sales.

  5. Incorporate emotional response content: Thoughts, feelings, and memories play a major part in emotional responses. Noldus offers facial coding software that analyzes facial expressions and assists you in creating content that tugs at the emotional heartstrings.

  6. Create product scarcity: Flash sales, low product inventory alerts, special editions, limited-time offers, countdown timers, and yearly sales all create an air of scarcity for the consumer and encourage an instinctual need to purchase. Fear of missing out is a psychological notion that can increase the perceived value of a product or brand.

  7. Social influence: Decisions create uncertainty in the brain; therefore, the unconscious inclination is to follow what others are doing. Social proof establishes an emotional safety net for consumers. Testimonials, influencer shoutouts, user videos, social comments and reviews all provide a positive impact on hesitant consumers.

Wrapping up

How you can improve your marketing strategy with this knowledge all depends on how you apply it. The sky is the limit when it comes to what neuromarketing can do for your brand. It is the marriage of science and psychology that can up your marketing game and solidify your presence in the minds of consumers.

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