Many of the biggest companies in the world are using neuromarketing right now, to dive into consumers’ minds and to understand how they respond to external triggers and how instincts work. Names like Microsoft, Pepsi, Daimler, Mercedes Benz have been investing in the practice to test designs, products and advertisements, while luxury brands are looking for a new way to convey messages, pushing exclusivity, elegance and an inspirational lifestyle through communications and products.
What is neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing, also known as consumer neuroscience, refers to the measurements of physiological and neural signals to gain insights into customers’ motivations, preferences, and decisions, according to Harvard Business Review.
An even clearer way to explain is that neuromarketing relates to measuring brain activity in different contexts of marketing techniques and stimuli, to make a connection between consumers’ behaviours and external factors, to identify patterns and to further use these insights to drive certain actions.
Why neuromarketing? What are the benefits?
As a study by Yankelovich shows in April 2020, an average consumer sees and interacts with over 5,000 ads per day. This means that people are more than ever before flooded with branded information and content to assess and disseminate and to make purchasing choices.
In this context, it is almost impossible to think that picking one product over the other tens of similar ones could be a rational decision. With so many options and so much information directed their ways, shoppers begin to choose products based on emotional and psychological factors more than logic.
Marketing in general studies how consumers make these purchasing decisions, while neuromarketing takes it to a new level, by using brain scanning techniques and technology to understand how consumers behave.
1. Brain analysis is more reliable than answers from interviews or surveys
Some may wonder whether neuromarketing is actually necessary or whether the data it offers brings added values. The answer is yes.
It reveals emotions and reactions that might not be noticeable or communicated by respondents otherwise.
Researchers at the Emory University managed to use fMRI to successfully predict whether a song would become popular. They compared brain responses to sales data for the next 3 years and confirmed the relevance of neuromarketing.
What’s interesting is that, unlike their brain activities, the respondents’ answers are not reliable. When asked whether they liked the songs, respondents’ answers differ from the the results of brain analysis.
This showcases that neuromarketing may better analyze how consumers feel about things than interviews or surveys, as respondents may not always understand their emotions. They may also feel pressured to respond to a certain question against their own will. While communication isn’t always accurate and transparent, brain analysis may not be fooled.
2. It provides an objective measuring system that is scalable.
Another study. In 2021, Innerscope Research tested a line of USB flash drives in labs. They collected heart rates and eye tracking data from respondents viewing the items, performed exploratory analysis and rated the flash drives from 1 to 30. Without receiving any sales data or other information, this research company managed to identify four of the five bestsellers. The research proved that neuromarketing may actually predict sales.
If you ask consumers to assess or grade a commercial product from one to ten, the results you get depend very much on their own understating of the system. An 8 for someone might be mediocre, while for someone else, it might be quite satisfying. In this case, results can be quite unreliable.
Moreover, integrating results from different countries or cultures will make the situation even worse. Fortunately, neuromarketing enables researchers to assess emotions or reactions in a more objective way, making results comparable.
How does neuromarketing work?
The most common tools used to measure neurological brain activities are EEG (electroencephalography), fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and Steady State Topography (SST).
fMRI is used for monitoring brain activities by assessing the subjects’ blood flows, while responding to audio and visual stimuli. Depending on which parts of the brain light up, researchers understand each person’s emotional response and, thus, see what the images, sounds or clips trigger.
Compared to fMRI, EEG is significantly less expensive, but it gives less detailed information. The tool uses a cap of electrodes that gets attached to the subject’s scalp to register electrical waves produced by the brain. This means that it may track emotional responses which signal excitement, lust or anger, but it may not go forward to read the deeper parts of the brain, where the pleasure center is located.
SST, on the other hand, measures the speed of electrical activity on the brain’s surface, to identify changes in engagement and memory encoding.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are also solutions which infer neurological responses by proxy, such as eye tracking, facial coding and heart rate monitoring, aimed to tell what is attracting consumers’ attention and what emotions they are feeling. These tools are less technical, less expensive, easier to implement and may easily be paired with traditional marketing research tools like surveys and focus groups.
Neuromarketing principles used in the luxury industry
Some marketers might consider neuromarketing research too complicated or too expensive. Fortunately, there is an alternative solution: Using established neuromarketing principles. It enables professionals to take advantage of the studies that have already confirmed.
The luxury industry is one of the most impacted industries by neuromarketing, because luxury consumers tend to make decisions based on emotional factors rather than on costs.
1. Color psychology
According to psychology, colors influence human perceptions and cause different emotions in people, whatever the cultural background or personal preferences.
This is why, when creating a product, specialists need to understand the brand’s values and attributes and associate them with colors that can successfully convey the message. Starting from this point, professionals can later define the color palette that may be used further in window displays, websites, social media and so on.
Take pink, for example. The color is feminine, playful, warm with a young and modern feel to it. It is also found to be able to add a luxurious touch to product. This is why pink is the choice of multiple brands like Victoria’s Secret.
Of course, colors have universally-accepted qualities; but in time, we may add meanings to them and even get them accepted by the collective perception.
While blue in most cases means consistency, dependability, trust and peacefulness, suggesting the integrity and competence of brands, the Tiffany blue goes beyond all these meanings. The color has now made such an impact on consumers that it may be recognized by itself, without any other branding element.
In neuromarketing, anchors are points of reference. As defined, “Anchoring or focalism is a cognitive bias where an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information offered (considered to be the <<anchor>>) to make subsequent judgments during decision making. Once the value of this anchor is set, all future negotiations, arguments, estimates, etc. are discussed in relation to the anchor.
Information that aligns with the anchor tends to be assimilated toward it, while information that is more dissonant or less related tends to be displaced. This bias occurs when interpreting future information using this anchor to gauge.”
In luxury neuromarketing, anchors refer to iconic products that define a brand and represent references for consumers. The Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags, the Gucci Dyonisus, the Chanel 2.55 or Louis Vuitton Speedy are the items that attract consumers and remain in their minds as aspirational and must-have items.
These anchors not only help set a tone for brands but also help sell other items, like keychains, scarves, wallets that are pricey but still cheaper than average. This way, they become “affordable” to aspiring consumers.
People are afraid of losing out; luxury buyers, too. They want what they can’t have and are willing to make the effort for it. Products that are in short supply or which aren’t available to wide audiences are extremely desired and perform very well sales-wise, because they create a sense of scarcity and exclusivity.
Hermès is an example of such a neuromarketing strategy. The brand’s exclusivity is guaranteed through its limited offer and restrictive prices, which position iconic bags like Birkin and Kelly above $10,000. The company has such a restrictive distribution and expansion strategy that demands for its products are consistently high and the market is never saturated.
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Hapticmedia has worked with multiple luxury brands including Piaget, Guerlain, Kenzo and has over 15 years of expertise in immersive technologies including 3D visualization, customization and configuration, including engraving, Augmented Reality, Virtual Try On, supported and covered by LVMH, Forbes, Les Echos, Le Point, BFMTV.
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