The Latest Neuromarketing Insights

Do people really like the songs they vote for? How does the order effect influence decision-making.

Relevant topics Archive, Conversion

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    When it comes to an evaluation of items presented in an order, people prefer the most recent one they saw
  • Application:
    Discover how to ensure that your consumers choose the right things
  • Even Eminem benefits from neuromarketing

    Remember Eminem? He was gone quiet for almost four years. Lately, Post Malone, Drake and Kendrick Lamar have been topping the Global Charts.

    Every year in November, MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA) review the year and award the best songs. This year, to everyone’s surprise and confusion, Eminem won the Best Hip Hop song with his most recent creation “Walk on Water”. The song was released days before the EMAs. Even Eminem himself was confused with his award as he hasn’t done anything in years. Was the song so great that everyone instantaneously fell in love with it?

    Can the order of presented items influence decision making?

    When people are subjected to a number of performances or items they see, they must compare those items to each other to make a decision. In this case, a greater importance is attached to the most recent thing in a set people were exposed to.

    If all the items in a set have unique but positive features, the brain will apply a shortcut and simply prefer the most recent item. This is called the Contrast Theory.

    For example, if you are listening to a playlist on Spotify, you are most likely to remember the most recent song you just heard.

    Research has shown that in song contests, such as Eurovision and New Wave, the later a contestant performs, the higher she/ he is ranked.

    For the EMAs, out of all contestants, Eminem presented his song last.

    How to deal with the ordering effect

    When planning an arts performance competition, it is advisable to reverse the order of the running numbers to weaken the ordering effect.

    Surveys may also suffer from this neuromarketing phenomenon. Therefore, it is advisable for marketers to present the questions in a different order to each participant.

    In advertising, companies should discuss the positioning order of the ad on TV or Radio. For example, if Bose speakers are advertised before the Sonos speakers, consumers will likely prefer Sonos speakers. 

    Boundary conditions

    Consumers’ preferences for charity or obligatory situations (e.g. choosing a health insurance) may differ. And also: high involvement situations will require a more complex decision-making model.  

    No principles should be applied blindly without testing as different industries may have their own specific boundaries.  

    Take away points

    • The evaluation process of ordered performances is biased. The judgement is influenced by the contestant’s running number.
    • The later a contestant performs, the higher she/he is ranked.
    • While it does not generalize to all song contests, it suggests that the principle also works outside of art performances.
  • Do people really like the songs they vote for? How does the order effect influence decision-making.
  • Reference:

    Antipov, E. A., & Pokryshevskaya, E. B. (2017). Order effects in the results of song contests: Evidence from the Eurovision and the New Wave. Judgment and Decision Making, 12(4), 415-419.


    Further Reading

    • Unconscious Cues and Their Surprising Effect on Behavior

      Unconscious Cues and Their Surprising Effect on Behavior

      Influencing behavior through advertisements, both consciously and unconsciously, but especially the latter, has given neuromarketing a bad reputation. Take James Vicary’s famous subliminal messaging experiment from the 1950s as an example. Vicary claimed that subliminal projections telling ten thousands of people to Drink Coca-Cola and to Eat Popcorn during a movie caused a 18 % sales increase for Coca Cola and 58 % sales increase for popcorn. 


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