Advertising legends such as David Ogilvy, Claud C. Hopkins and Leo Burnett understood the power of neuromarketing. Back then, they just didn’t call it that. They vigorously tested strategies for appealing to their target audience, driving more sales and generating greater results. They knew down to a science what worked — and what didn’t.
Like these advertising giants, some marketers today are using neuroscience to supercharge results. And so can you.
The brain is at the core of every single decision that customers make about your products and services. When you crack the code, unprecedented visibility is granted into customer behavior. But what specific strategies are marketers using?
Neuromarketing: The Nuts and Bolts
Neuromarketing is the study of consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. It digs deep into customer behavior to provide insight into what customers think about your products and services. For example, if people aren’t purchasing your new product, could changing something simple, such as the packaging, color, or size of text make a sizable difference?
Marketers test responses with real people in real time using a variety of strategies, but here are a couple of popular methods.
MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the body uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Marketing researchers us it to track the brain’s flow of blood as a person responds to a variety of visual and audio cues. With this method, researchers are usually examining the deep parts of the brain typically associated with pleasure.
EEG. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain. This method attaches electrodes to the scalp (sometimes the electrodes are placed in a cap that fits the head tightly) and is cheaper than the MRI. The EEG allows the participant to move more freely, which makes the process more comfortable than the confinement of the MRI. Electrodes measure electrical waves produced by the brain and allow researchers to track emotions, such as anger, excitement, and sadness.
You might well be thinking “That sounds great, but our B2B marketing team doesn’t have a budget for an MRI or an EEG.” There are a few powerful actions that you can still take (more on that in a minute). But first, here are a few examples of companies that use neuroscience that might inspire your efforts to add neuromarketing to your arsenal.
Brands That Use Neuromarketing
Because the brain is hardwired to respond to certain factors in a specific way, major brands have used neuromarketing to generate greater results for several years. For example, marketers who want to understand why customers are purchasing less of a product can gain greater understanding through neuromarketing. Here are a few examples:
Frito-Lay: Uncovering Unexpected Information
Frito-Lay hired a neuromarketing company to better understand the popular snack food Cheetos. It selected a group of customers and scanned each participant’s brain. The goal was to measure the responses to different attributes about the popular snack food.
The results were surprising. The researchers discovered that the sticky, yucky, orange dust that covers customers’ fingers when eating the snack was actually desirable. Yes, you read that right. They liked having their hands turn into a glowing, grimy mess. What’s more, the company leveraged this new information to overhaul its existing advertising campaign. In fact, NeuroFocus, the company that helped them, actually earned a Grand Ogilvy award (awarded by the Advertising Research Foundation) for its research.
Frito-Lay also uses neuroscience for other types of products. For example, they wanted to test women’s responses to Lay’s® Oven Baked Potato Crisps. Findings of their studies shaped an ad campaign that focused on new single-serving packaging.
Key takeaway. Customers may love attributes about your products that you weren’t expecting. Research can help you discover this information, so you can tap into it and drive great results.
Coca-Cola: Measuring Emotions
The soft drink giant uses neuromarketing to gauge customer emotions about its products. Unlike the MRI or EEG approach, the company uses a technique called “facial coding” that records facial expressions. The process is as follows:
“The technology is seamlessly integrated, and with the participant’s permission, it simply records their face while they watch ads within a normal survey environment, automatically interpreting the viewer’s emotional and cognitive states, moment by moment.”
Basically, facial coding slows down video of subjects to find those fleeting, true emotions that register for only a fraction of a second yet are caught on video.
In this specific instance, customers are exposed to a piece of product packaging and their responses are recorded and categorized as positive, negative or neutral. This strategy is used in conjunction with an interview to identify impact points to change. For example, the company found that color, imagery, and even text size made a serious impact.
Key Takeaway: Expensive equipment isn’t always required to uncover the feelings and emotions that customers have about your products. Partner with an agency that decodes customers’ facial responses to your products and services using less complex, yet accurate methods.
PayPal: Uncovering Unexpected Messaging Opportunities
For many years, PayPal’s messaging focused on safety and security. Since it sold financial services, it was natural to assume that people were primarily concerned with these benefits. Yet once the company started using neuromarketing, they uncovered an even more powerful message.
Customers did want safe and secure services, but they also wanted something more – speed and convenience. Customers wanted to send and receive money quickly and easily. Once this was discovered, the company took a new approach to marketing and leveraged these appeals.