Neuromarketing is the fascinating and rapidly developing combination of scientific findings and marketing. As a significant influence on modern marketing techniques, neuromarketing in turn influences consumers and their decisions. The more we know about the human brain, the better we understand how people respond to marketing tools, which allows us to fine-tune and prime our marketing efforts (which can vary from advertising to custom clothing).

The good news for you as a marketer is that you don’t have to conduct your own neuromarketing research in order to harness its power. All you need is to understand the following principles and facts about the human brain in order to drive higher conversion rates and satisfy customers.

How to convince your customer to make the right buying decision

It all starts with an idea

Neuromarketing as a concept is based on, guess what, memes. While the term commonly describes viral pictures with clever captions, a meme in the general sense is a piece of cultural information, an easily recognisable idea that spreads from person to person within a culture. In marketing, the meme becomes a mnemonic device that connects an idea to a product or brand and places it in cultural context. Traditional marketing memes are: melodies and songs (jingles, theme songs, classical music), costumes, style and fashion (uniforms), popular figures (celebrities, mascots, spokespeople, brand ambassadors) and brand images (Thirsty? Think of Coke). It all starts with an idea, and the consumer has to draw a relationship between it and the product. What cultural experience can you tap into to influence the choices of your customers? Think of highly personal connections when defining your memetic marketing principles.

The brain is fooled by decoys

A decoy is a standard marketing trick because it’s simple and highly effective. Our brains are wired in a way that if we’re presented with too little options, we place less value on what is available. If there is no competition for an item on the market, it’s hard to convince consumers of its quality. The decoy effect is most commonly used as third choice phenomenon: instead of offering just a standard and premium option, a third one of lesser value (basic) makes the higher price choices more attractive. Satisfy the irrationality of your customers with three-tiered options or environmental marketing design that contrasts your decoy with the real target, thus convincing them of the rationality of their choice.

We are creatures of habit

Human behaviour is shaped by habits: if we are rewarded for doing something, we keep doing it – especially when the reward increases. This exact principle is what makes video games so addictive. They follow a loop in which the player repeats tasks while at the same time progressing through skills and rewards. In much the same way, habits are acquired. As a marketer, you have to create an attachment between your customers and your product or service. Build a habit loop that integrates with the routine of their lives. To achieve this, one experience is not enough, so you need to interact with customers after the first conversion to turn them into addicts.

Thinking vs. doing

There is a fundamental difference between why consumers buy things and the reason they give for doing so. 85 percent of new products fail, because they have been based on misleading and unreliable surveys and research. We all have two minds, one for doing and one for thinking. The latter one is slow and can only focus on one task at a time. It comes into play when we try to make up our minds about a purchase decision: Do we really need this item? How often will we use it? The doing mind is fast and relates to intuition, the subconscious and sensory stimulation. We can’t help but be influenced by it, which leads to impulse or repeat buying, choosing under pressure or information overload and purchasing items outside of our usual interests or importance. It should be fairly obvious that your task as a marketer is to influence the doing mind through stimulation, experiences, associations, emotions and messages appealing to impulse or habitual behaviour as well as intuition and spontaneity. Also, be weary of the data you gather from the thinking mind of your customers: their stated purchase intentions and justifications are not what actually, non-consciously made up their mind.


The brain wants to take shortcuts

Let’s face it, we’re all lazy, and taking a shortcut is very often a smart move because it helps us save time and energy. Our brains follow the same logic, which in turn leads to somewhat irrational but very predictable behaviour. Have you ever wondered why you first find yourself in the fruits and vegetable section when you enter any supermarket? Selecting these fresh goods first creates a feel-good-factor with consumers so that they spend more on other items. In marketing, this is called a prime or anchor. We bias our decisions according to the first piece of information we are given. It can be a set high price for a used car which is then bartered down, or a call to action that appeals to a real or perceived need we have. Customers base their justification on the anchor or prime, thinking their judgement is rational when often it’s not.

Memory needs to be aligned

As a marketer, you want consumers to have a positive and strong brand memory that is linked to at least one of their goals or needs. This alignment is crucial, otherwise they remember your marketing, but not the brand. We’ve all seen the phenomenon: Likes, views and shares in large quantities appear to mark a success but don’t translate into a conversion or sales goal. You might remember the viral video and game hit Dumb Ways to Die released by Melbourne Metro Trains. Despite the massive downloads and views, the campaign did little to improve safety statistics for the Melbourne rail system. To avoid the pitfall of unaligned memory, make your brand memorable. At all touch points with your target audience, the brand needs to be emotionally engaging and play a central role to be cemented into the memory of customers.

Herd mentality

We are social creatures, and we tend to follow the herd. It’s normal for humans to take a cue from others, and it’s another shortcut the brain takes: group-thinking. The more people are doing something, the better it must be. We are likely to choose what others have chosen or want, no matter when or where: finding an exit, dressing up or buying a car, we follow popular choice. As a marketer, you can make customers choose an item by telling them it’s the most popular. Also called the bandwagon effect or social proof, this psychological phenomenon is caused by our deep-rooted desire for harmony or conformity with our peers. Social cues such as the number of previous buyers, the popularity rank or simply a most popular badge are highly efficient when integrated into product display and pricing strategy.


Learn to leverage the incredibly powerful tool of neuromarketing. The techniques outlined above are neither rocket science nor are they completely new – many of the marketing principles you are already familiar with take advantage of simple facts on how our brains are wired. Conversion optimisation means using neuromarketing tactics that complement each other to achieve your marketing goals. Experiment what works best for your target audience! Also read up on Neuromarketing Ideas to see how companies use science to get creative and more facts about subconscious buying decisions.


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