07 / 09 / 23

Consumer Neuroscience: The Secret of Brain-Powered Marketing  

You might be thinking consumer neuroscience or 'neuromarketing' as it's also known, sounds like a very big concept that you’ll never be able to grasp, but it’s actually not that big of a deal. In simple terms, it’s all about using big brain science to market your products better. You know how companies try to get inside your head to sell you stuff? It doesn’t happen by chance - it’s a cleverly engineered marketing process. 

Since the secrets behind consumer neuroscience are just too good to pass by, we’ve set out to uncover exactly how brands harness the power of neuromarketing to create irresistible experiences for their consumers, all in this article! We’ll need our thinking caps for this one… 

Consumer Neuroscience - why you should care 

You may be thinking, 'why would anyone care about this mumbo jumbo?'. Turns out, if you’re a marketer, or a business wanting to increase your sales, consumer neuroscience should be somewhere on your agenda. In today's competitive business landscape, understanding the inner workings of the human brain can provide useful insights for marketers that can be used to drive sales.   

Neuromarketing, a field that combines neuroscience and marketing, can unravel the hidden desires and preferences of our minds, revealing the secret ingredients that make us fall head over heels for certain products. As a discipline, it’s fascinating.  

For instance, did you know that our decisions are often driven by emotions rather than logic? Consumer neuroscience uncovered this truth by exploring the brain's emotional centres, teaching us that tapping into our feelings can make a brand truly unforgettable. But that’s not all, it also discovered that our brains are wired to respond to certain stimuli, such as visually appealing designs or catchy jingles, evoking positive associations that can influence our decisions.  

Hopefully you’re starting to get the point. By understanding these bits of brain science, businesses gain the ability to craft irresistible messages and designs that get consumers hooked from the get-go.  

Cracking Consumers: Neuroscience and the Emotional Code 

As we all know, emotions play a pivotal role in our decision-making process, especially when it comes to purchasing decisions. It’s like our brain has a shopping cart full of feelings and sneaks in extra items we never knew we needed, which pushes us to buy things on impulse. And consumer Neuroscience is behind this phenomenon. 

Deep within our brains lies the limbic system, a marvellous network of structures responsible for regulating emotions and influencing our behaviour. Sadly, it’s not just a button at the back of the brain that we can press whenever we want, but instead, it’s something that’s beyond our awareness. This powerful system, hidden within our grey matter, helps us feel and remember emotions, and it plays a big role in how we respond to things happening around us. 

By learning how to tap into the limbic system, marketers can employ powerful techniques using consumer neuroscience to evoke positive emotions in their campaigns that convert potential customers into sales.   

The Neuro-Magic of Storytelling  

One such technique is brand storytelling, as narratives have a profound impact on our emotions and can create a connection between consumers and brands.

When we listen to or engage with a compelling story, different parts of the limbic system are activated. The amygdala, for example, becomes engaged as it helps us connect with the characters and experiences in the story, triggering emotional responses such as empathy, excitement, or even fear. The hippocampus also plays a role by encoding the story's details into our memory, making it easier for us to recall and remember the emotional journey we experienced.

In fact, storytelling is so powerful, it can help you perfectly memorise items you’d struggle to remember otherwise. For example, imagining walking around your house picking up items in a thought-out narrative sequence enables you to recall all items on a shopping list more successfully than trying to memorise the separate items from a list itself.  

We can draw two conclusions from this: storytelling can create lasting memorability, and it can really pull on our heartstrings. While it might appear complicated to pull off the feat of consumer neuroscience, the process doesn’t have to be that complex - and Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign stands as a prime example.  

Coca Cola and the consumer: Neuroscience in Action

Picture this: you're strolling through the supermarket, and suddenly your eyes lock with a Coke bottle sporting your name… talk about an instant connection! Coca-Cola knew exactly what they were doing when they swapped their famous logo for personalised names and phrases, and it had everything to do with storytelling and the principles of consumer neuroscience.  

Finding a Coke with your name, or a name of someone you know sparked a sense of excitement, triggering positive emotions associated with the joy of recognition. As people found bottles with names of friends, family, or even their own unique names, it created a shared experience and a feeling of inclusion. 

And here's where the magic of storytelling comes in. Coca-Cola encouraged everyone to ‘share a Coke’ with someone special and capture those precious moments. People started snapping photos, sharing stories, and spreading the love. It became a movement, a shared experience that brought people closer together and created a unique memory, personal to every individual.  

By using storytelling, Coca-Cola transformed a regular beverage into a symbol of personal connection and happiness with the power of consumer neuroscience. The campaign not only increased brand awareness and engagement but also fostered a sense of community, which skyrocketed sales and strengthened the emotional bond between consumers and the brand. Coca-Cola ensured that everyone had their own story to tell, and a medium through which they could tell them to the world. 

The Power of Personification  

Another great trick for sinking deep into the mind of your consumer through neuroscience of the limbic system, is simply using vibrant visuals, and personifying your products into relatable on screen-characters to trigger positive emotional responses. It makes sense; people relate to people the best, so creating something familiar to act as the desirable product, really is a no-brainer. Pair that with some engaging visuals that will keep the viewer’s eyes glued to your product, and you’re winning. Interestingly, there’s a world-dominating brand which managed to check those boxes, all in one sleek campaign they released in the 2000s…  

Rewind to Apple and their legendary "Get a Mac" advertising 

Back in the day, Apple wanted to showcase the superiority of their Mac computers over traditional PCs. They decided to take a creative approach by personifying the two competing platforms in a series of adverts. The campaign featured a hip, cool guy representing the Mac and a nerdy, suit-wearing character symbolising the PC. 

Now, here's where the consumer neuroscience happened: Apple infused the videos with vibrant visuals, using sleek, modern settings that echoed the Mac's elegant design. They paired this with catchy, upbeat music that added a touch of energy. excitement, and humour to each advert.  

But the real secret sauce was the relatable characters. The Mac guy exuded confidence, charm, and an aura of effortless creativity, making you believe that once you get your hands on the new Mac yourself, you’ll be the most productive version of you, ever. When you think about it, this message is still communicated in Apple’s current day campaigns too. On the other hand, the PC character was portrayed as slightly bumbling, overwhelmed by technical issues, and outdated in comparison. 

The distinct personalities created by Apple managed to hack our limbic system, subconsciously connecting with us via the relatable traits of both characters. The positive emotional response triggered by the Mac's coolness and creativity made us feel drawn to the brand and its products and continues to draw us decades later echoing the same concepts. Consumer Neuroscience. 

Consumer Neurosceience and Social Proof

If you’ve ever visited the Instagram, TikTok, or website of any business, you’ll know that social proof has really become a staple of every marketing strategy. That is because our brains crave connection, so when we see someone enjoying or trusting a product, our brains’ social gears start turning, saying, "Hey, if they like it, maybe I will too!". That's social proof in action. 

Testimonials on websites, or user-generated content on social media, can leverage the power of human connection and really instil a sense of trust and belonging in the consumer. Think fitness clothing brands - companies like Gymshark invest a lot in influencer marketing, hiring people with loyal followings to honestly review products, become ambassadors, inspire their followers, and eventually, drive the purchasing decisions of their fanbase.   

Using social proof to win over prospective customers isn’t a tactic limited to influencer marketing or fitness brands. You can spot this consumer neuroscience technique anywhere.  

Imagine you're planning a getaway, and you stumble upon Airbnb. You're scrolling through listings, and boom! You see a cosy cabin with reviews from ecstatic travellers gushing about the breath-taking views and great host. These reviews are the social proof. It’ll work its magic and draw many more future travellers to the Airbnb. Neuromarketers can easily infiltrate our brain to build excitement, trust, and loyalty through social proof. 

The Consumer Neuroscience Price Tag Tango 

To finish, we’re quickly going to cover some pricing business. This one is a tale as old as time. It is no secret that neuromarketing uses pricing strategies to tap into our limbic system too, triggering emotional responses that influence our decision-making and purchasing behaviours. 

Ever wondered why some prices make you jump with joy while others give you pause? Different pricing strategies trigger distinct reactions in our minds. Lower prices spark excitement, while higher ones make us cautious. Brands are masters at playing this brain game, strategically setting prices that align with our mental dance as we decide whether to spend our money on something, or not. 

Now, onto cognitive biases – those mental shortcuts that sway us in our choices.  

Familiar with the ‘anchoring effect’? It's when a higher price is introduced before the actual cost. Our brains anchor to the initial, higher price, making the actual price seem like a better deal. This elicits positive emotions of saving money, which can influence our decision to purchase. 

And then there's ‘scarcity’ (anchoring effect’s sibling) which further pushes us to make swift purchasing decisions. The instant we spot ‘limited stock’, our brain's alarm bells ring, urging us to ‘Buy now!’ This also taps into our limbic system, fostering the fear of missing out on a fleeting opportunity, and it works. If you don’t get it now - you’ll think about missing out on it all the way home. This form of consumer neuroscience harnesses our instinct to dodge losses, and savvy brands employ these tactics to gently guide us toward the checkout. 

Next time you’re strolling through the multi-product deals at the supermarket, or limited offers on the High street, remember your brain is moving through the motions of the price tag tango, two-stepping alongside the anchoring effect and scarcity. From excitement to biases, it's all part of the pricing game. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Neuromarketing leverages insights from brain science to enhance marketing strategies.
  • Understanding the role of emotions in decision-making is crucial, as emotions often drive consumer choices.
  • Storytelling is a powerful tool that activates various parts of the brain and creates lasting memorability.
  • Brands like Coca-Cola have successfully employed consumer neuroscience principles to create emotional connections with their customers through storytelling.
  • Personifying products and using relatable characters in marketing campaigns can trigger positive emotional responses, as demonstrated by the example of Apple's 'Get a Mac" advertising.
  • Social proof, seen through testimonials and user-generated content, builds trust and encourages consumer engagement.
  • Pricing strategies, such as the anchoring effect and scarcity, tap into the brain's emotional responses to influence purchasing decisions.
  • Embracing neuromarketing tricks, from storytelling to social proof, can enhance marketing strategies and create a more profound impact on consumers.

Neuromarketing opens a treasure trove of insights for marketers to decode the fascinating world of mind magic. By incorporating insights from consumer neuroscience, marketers can craft campaigns that whisper directly into the audience’s subconsciousness. Whether you’re weaving enchanting narratives, riding the emotional waves, or spreading your social proof like confetti, embracing these neuromarketing tricks can give your marketing mojo a serious boost. 

If you're wondering how to turn these neuromarketing insights into marketing magic, get in touch with us. Let's team up to create campaigns that will craft an unforgettable journey and leave a lasting impact. 


Written by Ewa Formation