The Latest Neuromarketing Insights

These are the 7 most interesting neuromarketing insights of 2015

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  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    The best neuromarketing insights of 2015
  • Application:
    Depends on the finding
  • I vividly remember reading a cool article last year.  Scientist found that words that sound alike could trigger the same brain areas. Specifically they found that ‘bye now’ and ‘buy now’ were closely linked together. It was good to know that the hidden gems from the scientific journals still found their way to us marketers. But after that it got quiet. Where was I going to get those latest juicy insights? 

    That’s when Tom, Aletta and myself started newneuromarketing.com. A blog where we unravel the latest and most interesting neuromarketing insights, right from the source: scientific journals. Every month we dig through them, looking for articles that could have a real impact in marketing. We then transform them into readable blogs with practical implications of how you could put them into practice.

    In this blog I want to share the seven most mouthwatering findings. My heart still beats a little bit faster while reading the following list.

    Here’s a small overview of what I’m about to uncover:

    • To Round or Not to Round (conversion/pricing)
    • Social proof. Having versus liking (conversion)
    • Everything about happiness (branding/conversion/design)
    • The real predictive value of EEG (advertising)
    • Don’t let your product turn its back on (design/conversion)
    • The persuasion of neuromarketing (branding)
    • The floor is nearer than the sky (conversion, branding)

    PDF bonus: This article is 1.972 words. Click to download The full PDF so you can reference it later.

    To round or not to round (conversion/pricing)

    While there are a lot of signals that influence price perception, price itself also conveys a message. Most of us know that a product priced $19.99 will sell better compared to a pricing of $20. Recent research however, tells us it maybe not as black and white as you might think.

    Round pricing, such as $20, is processed differently than prices that aren’t round, such as $19.99. A price like $100 is processed fluent, easy, emotional and requires little energy. However a price like $99.11 is processed disfluent, hard, rational and takes more energy. The implications this has on your pricing strategies are big.

    The buying intention of a consumer has to correspond with the emotional experience of the price. A photo camera you buy for your holidays, for example, is a positive emotionally loaded purchase. In this case you should use round pricing. However, would you buy that same camera for your business (which is a functional, rational purchase), then a specific price like $99.11 would persuade you to buy faster.

    source:  http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/round-pricing.htm)

    The question one should ask in advance is: ‘To round or not to round’.

    Social proof. Having versus liking (conversion)

    We all know the persuasion tactic social proof: influencing people by showing what others already did. This is probably Cialdini’s most well-known persuasion tactic. The amount of articles written about it is astonishing. But what if I told you that you could be using it wrong?

    The devil is in the details, and it’s no different here. The way you frame social proof matters. To put it more clearly: do you frame social proof in terms of actions (‘others bought’), or in terms of preferences (‘others also liked’). Tu and Fishbach (2015) discovered that the latter was significantly more effective.

    To make this principle a bit more vivid, let’s put it in the context of intimate relationships. Would you rather have a partner that’s either desired by many or had by many others?

    Thought so.

    You can see this translating to e-commerce. Why not try ‘others liked these products as well’ instead of ‘others also bought’.




    Of course you can also test other approaches: ‘others viewed’, ‘others put these items on their wish list’ or ‘others also want’.

    As always, the following still applies: you should test that. 

    The most important take-away is that social proof comes in many forms. Sticking to displaying other people’s actions could lead you to miss out on social proofs true value. 

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    Everything about happiness

    Using smiling models in your ads work! You’re probably thinking: ‘That’s old news, Tim’. That’s what Hanna Berg Magnus Söderlund Annika Lindström thought so too, until recently. While digging through the scientific journals, they hardly found evidence underpinning this ‘solid’ marketing wisdom.

    About time this technique got some investigation. Indeed, they found that smiling models in ads generate more happiness and positive emotions for the viewer. Which flow right into the brand at hand. The main culprit according to the scientist? Mirror neurons.

    Nothing new, you’d say. Until you think about this the other way around.

    If the same mirror neurons are at work with sad faces, this would imply that that same sad feeling is being felt by your target group. And a sad feeling is not something you want your brand to be associated with. Something to think about when you start your commercial with a sad grandpa alone at Christmas.

    The same principle also works for charities, as was found by Genevsky and Knutson. They found that people were more willing to give out micro loans when they saw happy faces. Charities could use this insight when asking for a donation. A happy face near the donation button can increase the amount they’re willing to donate.

    Pride versus joy

    Two emotions that look alike are pride and joy. Still Karsh en Eyal found an interesting difference in the application of both.

    Different emotions have different effects on people, pride, for example, lets people think more abstract than joy does. And for some products that’s exactly the mindset needed for action.

    Products or activities which advantages are only noticeable in the future, require more abstract thinking compared to products with instant gratification. In the former cases your message will be more persuading when using pride. The latter products will benefit from messages containing words or models that signal joy.

    Newneuromarketing is looking for new authors! Are you up for the job?
    Send us an e-mail at tim@newneuromarketing.com to become an author and start spreading knowledge.

    The real predictive value of EEG (advertising)

    Companies like Neurensics, ST&T Research and AmsterBrand are making implicit research methods more and more popular. Tools like fMRI, EEG and IAT respectively, can tell you everything about what your customers won’t (or can’t) tell. Indeed, only three years ago, fMRI could predict the top 40 in music.

    But this years EEG research found a way to tell which movies would become a hit. Conducting an EEG while participants were watching trailers gave Boksem en Smidts insights in which movies would be leading the charts some time later. In principle this provides a basis in which we can use EEG research to predict the effectiveness of a commercial.

    Until recently, implicit marketing research via fMRI worked differently. Neurensics, for example, compares scans from participants who’ve watched proven successful commercials to new commercials. This enabled them to predict a certain chance of success. Implicit association tests work on a different level, by measuring which associations are relevant in packaging, commercials or brands.

    Don’t let your product turn its back on me

    Processing fluency describes how fluently your mind can process things. The more fluent you can process something the more positive your feelings towards it will be.

    Take the way you read this text for example, from left to right. Because a car in a commercial drives the same way (from left to right), it’s easier (more fluent) for your mind to process. As a result, your feelings will be more positive towards the car at hand.

    This effect has even proven itself in court. Suspects were significantly more often found guilty when they walked into the courtroom from the right as opposed to from the left, from the point of view of the jury.

    This brand new research found the same processing fluency at play with product ads.  An important driver for success is which way your product is facing in your ad. When your product is facing the ads center, as shown in the Apple ad, it’s valued more positively. The opposite holds true for the right ad, which will be valued less positively.

    iMac adDell ad1

    I know, it’s the almighty Apple again. But like it or not, but those guys always tend do a pretty great job when it comes to advertising.

    In the example shown above, the iMac is perfectly facing the center of the ad. Notice how it allows your gaze to look at the text. The Dell ad though, is letting the laptop face outwards of the ad, making you look at everything except the text they want you to look at.

    So keep in mind, next time you’re designing an ad, make sure you’re placing your product towards the center of your ad.

    The persuasion of neuromarketing (branding)

    We already knew that simply showing brains in your presentation or page helped boost your credibility. That’s why we, as neuromarketers, have those brain images on a lot of our websites and twitter profiles. (Next to it being relevant, as our approach relies on social sciences).

    However, it was surprising to hear that merely naming neuromarketing can also be persuading on its own. Weisberg, Taylor en Hopkins discovered this year that statements with seemingly irrelevant neuroscience words were found to be more trustworthy as opposed to statements which lacked those words. Their results confirm that ‘neuromarketing’ as a word already has a persuasive effect on people. Good to know for your next product text or presentation.

    PDF bonus: This article is 1.972 words. Click to download The full PDF so you can reference it later.

    The floor is nearer than the sky (conversion, branding).

    The last discovery of this year and this article requires a bit more understanding of psychology.

    Maybe you’ve heard of the term ‘embodied cognition’. This term describes the tendency of our brains to make physical movements psychological. An example: a friend that lives far away, also feels more distant emotionally. And a classic: if you nod your head during a message, you’ll believe this quicker.

    A few scientists from Oxfort University found a similar embodied cognition effect, which has everything to do with our head and eye movements.

    When looking down, objects seem very close: very concrete. But while looking up, objects appear further away: more abstract. The tilt of your head has an effect on the way your brain is willing to think: in an abstract or a concrete way. In line with embodied cognition, the researchers found that looking down caused a more concrete way of thinking: simple and focused at a short term. Looking up, however, lead to the opposite, a more abstract way of thinking: complicated and focused on the long term.

    This has interesting implications for marketing. When a consumer looks up, they value deeper desires more, ideal for promoting a dream car, which isn’t very practical and probably a bit too expensive.

    However, when a consumer is looking down, they focus more on the practical aspects of your product. Perfect for promoting that practical minivan with a low gas mileage.

    So if you want to appeal to a feeling of luxury, make sure to put your products on a high stand. This effect is already at play at fashion shows for example, where the audience has to look up to the models, which in turn adds to their desire towards those models.

    This also has implications for the position and movement of elements in your banners. Think about an element in your banner which you’re letting ‘fly’ in from the top. Or from the bottom. Do you have an offer you can desire (a flight to a beautiful resort for example); make sure to let those eyes go up. However if you have an additional service (concrete and practical), it’s better to let people look down.

    I’m hoping you’re just as excited about these findings as I am. These were the needles in the haystack we were hoping to find when we started newneuromarketing.com. But of course I couldn’t have done it without the help from my colleagues!

    Did I miss an article? Be sure to let me know in the comments. After all, the more hidden gems from science we can uncover, the better!

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  • These are the 7 most interesting neuromarketing insights of 2015
  • Reference:

    1. Wadhwa, M., & Zhang, K. (2015). This Number Just Feels Right: The Impact of Roundedness of Price Numbers on Product Evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(5), 1172-1185.

    2. Tu, Y., & Fishbach, A. (2015). Words Speak Louder: Conforming to Preferences More Than Actions.

    3. Karsh, N., & Eyal, T. (2015). How the Consideration of Positive Emotions Influences Persuasion: The Differential Effect of Pride Versus Joy. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 28(1), 27-35.

    4. Boksem, M. A., & Smidts, A. (2014). Brain responses to movie-trailers predict individual preferences for movies and their population-wide commercial success. Journal of Marketing Research.

    5. Leonhardt, J. M., Catlin, J. R., & Pirouz, D. M. (2015). Is Your Product Facing the Ad's Center? Facing Direction Affects Processing Fluency and Ad Evaluation. Journal of Advertising, 44(4), 315-325.

    6. Weisberg, D. S., Taylor, J. C., & Hopkins, E. J. (2015). Deconstructing the seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Judgment and Decision Making, 10(5), 429.

    7. Van Kerckhove, A., Geuens, M., & Vermeir, I. (2015). The floor is nearer than the sky: how looking up or down affects construal level. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1358-1371

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