Have you ever wondered why fast food logos are almost always red, orange or yellow… and rarely blue? While, on the other hand, why health and medical-related ads typically use blue as the predominant color… but almost never red or yellow? It’s certainly not accidental.

The answer to these questions can be found in a branch of applied neuroscience called neuroscience marketing, or “neuromarketing.”

After all, neuroscience — in its most basic form — focuses on studying how the brain responds to certain stimuli.

Neuromarketing applies that research to consumer behavior. It looks at how companies can use principles of neuroscience to adapt their brand awareness strategies to influence customers.

It’s All in the Process(ing)

Making an impression and converting a sale is hard work. Marketers need every tool at their disposal to accomplish their objectives, so why not throw some science into the mix?

Consider the following:

  • 95 percent of buying decisions involve a subconscious element.
  • Human beings process visual information 60,000 times faster than text.
  • Most people see 4,000 to 10,000 marketing messages every day.
  • Most people only read 20-28 percent of the words on a page.
  • 55 percent of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds actively reading content.

That all seems pretty daunting.

Fortunately, there’s a way to cut through all of the noise, distraction and short attention spans… by understanding the underlying science of human reactions and behaviors.

In a study conducted by the University of Hyogo in Japan, participants were served the exact same potato soup in three different color variations: blue, yellow or familiar-looking. Those served blue soup consumed less of the soup, were less satisfied with their soup eating experience, and were less likely to be willing to eat the soup again.

So, why did this occur? Well, it turns out human brains are experts at recognizing patterns. And there is very little blue food in nature. So, when the brain comes across blue food, it’s only natural that a subconscious hesitation occurs.

Learning through pattern recognition is called statistical learning.

Whether or not marketers are aware of it, all brands are built using statistical learning. After all, how a customer perceives a brand — its brand identity — is the sum total of the connections a consumer’s brain has made about that brand.

Think of the associations many people have between Nike and athletic performance, or Amazon and online shopping, or Starbucks and coffee. There are lots of examples… but at the end of the day, these brands have been so successful at making connections that they are perceived by consumers as being a type of shorthand for entire business categories.

Learning how customers and prospects think and process information can help building product marketers reach the right audience with the right messaging… for more effective marketing campaigns.

Think Fast, Act Faster

In 2019, the Mobile Marketing Association’s Cognition Neuroscience Research project conducted a study in partnership with the research company Neurons Inc. and The Advertising Research Foundation. Eye tracking and EEG monitoring were used to measure how participants responded to a series of live mobile ads.

The study showed that cognitive processing of ads happens incredibly fast, particularly in the mobile environment. In fact, 67 percent of the mobile ads tested triggered reactions at just 0.4 seconds.

The study also demonstrated the power of video. Video ads were twice as likely to trigger emotional responses as static ads… and they did it faster — in less than 0.7 seconds.

This study, and others like it, show the value of considering neuroscientific principles when developing marketing plans. Ultimately, this research reinforces the core tenet of advertising: great campaigns start with great content… but they end with great visuals… and great reception from audiences.

Here are five examples of neuromarketing at work in the real world.

The Power of Color

Colors can evoke a wide range of emotions, and studies show a consistent link between certain colors and associated emotions.

Utilizing a color, or group of colors, effectively can be a powerful marketing tool.

One of the most notable examples is Coca Cola’s use of the color red. But many more companies have used color to great effect.

Neuromarketing experts specializing in color and advertising have divided colors into subgroups as a guide to how they may be used effectively. Cool blues, for example, are commonly used to attract professional audiences. Greens are often used to convey health and relaxation or an association with nature.

Layout Matters

Neuromarketing techniques are also being applied to website design.

From color schemes, layouts and font size to navigation and the user experience, neuromarketers are observing website visitors’ biological responses to determine website preferences.

For example, websites that note a brand’s certifications, include testimonials and provide social sharing widgets capture more attention than those that don’t.

Another interesting finding is that newer, horizontal-scrolling website layouts are less effective than the traditional vertical format. It turns out reading webpages from the top down more effectively engages the brain — and encourages viewers to keep on scrolling.

Decision Paralysis

Sometimes, consumer behavior research contradicts previous beliefs.

While having a lot of choices seems like a good thing, that’s not necessarily the case. A well-regarded study revealed that too many options can be a deterrent for consumers, causing them to become overwhelmed. In the study, customers were much more likely to stop and browse retail displays containing a few options compared to those with multiple selections.

The reason? To the human mind, less is often more. Think about clutter and the stress it can cause. Creating several curated collections or bundles from an extensive catalog reduces the burden of decision-making and may result in more sales.

The Desire for Proof

One of the reasons word of mouth marketing is so effective is that customers are forever looking for proof that they can trust a company or brand.

So show them proof with easily accessible testimonials and reviews.

Web copy, ads, imagery, video and audio content should reinforce these examples to help establish consistent, reinforcing patterns. Seeing patterns of proof creates deeper connections between a brand and the brain of the consumer.

All people use pattern recognition and statistical learning, consciously or not. Driving home a pattern can be an invaluable tool for building product marketers.

Avoiding Perceived Loss

It’s no surprise that, in general, people don’t want to miss an opportunity. So much so that worry about what might be lost is more motivating than the promise of a gain. That’s why “buy before it’s gone” strategies are so effective.

FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is becoming increasingly common and can cause significant stress. The term even has its own hashtag.

Framing gains and losses properly is an important concept in neuromarketing. They don’t need to be as blatantly phrased as a limited time offer… but alluding to the potential to miss out can promote purchasing behavior.

Applying the Science

Our brains are always looking for solutions to pain points and do so in surprising and often counterintuitive ways. Awareness, with the help of neuroscience, is key. Putting new scientific findings and insights to work to better understand and address customer needs can lead to impressive results.

Interested in discovering how neuromarketing techniques can help elevate your brand? Send an e-mail to sk@kleberandassociates.com to get the conversation started.