Why We Buy: The Neuroscience Behind Our Purchasing Decisions
If you’re looking to understand why you buy the things you buy, Buyology may answer your questions.
This book examines what’s going on in our brains when we make purchasing decisions, who why people prefer one brand over another and delves deeper into why we don’t always base our decisions on a rational comparison of pros and cons.
Traditional market research methods like questionnaires don’t necessarily provide an accurate reflection of our buying behaviour.
Buyology reveals how neuromarketing, or marketing based off data from sophisticated neuroimaging machinery, can help marketers design the best strategies possible.
It discusses whether subliminal advertising really works, why sex doesn’t always sell and shines a light on similarities between seemingly disparate entities such as Oreos and the Catholic Church.
You will gain insight into why some smokers simply cannot be grossed out enough to kick their habit.
Understand what makes you buy what you buy with this comprehensive analysis of purchasing decisions!
How Mirror Neurons And Dopamine Make Us Vulnerable To Advertising
Mirror neurons have the power to manipulate our buying decisions and responses without us even knowing.
Thanks to the 1992 study of Giacomo Rizzolatti on macaques, we now know that these premotor neurons light up both when one reaches for something and when another does.
They essentially enable us humans to re-enact others’ actions in our heads.
Companies leverage this natural human reflex by triggering our mirror neurons with “targeted gestures” in advertising; such as a simple image of someone sipping from a can of soda or lacing up a new pair of shoes.
They often work hand in hand with dopamine (the pleasure hormone), which results in that rush of happiness after making purchases – even if we go over budget.
Our desire to purchase something is part of evolution, as it increases our chances at reproduction and can be seen as an indicator of higher social status.
We just might not always be aware that we are being swayed into buying something, because mirror neurons have the capability influencing our decisions covertly.
The Power Of Somatic Markers: How Our Brains Help Make Quick Buying Decisions
Have you ever wondered why you automatically choose one product over the other based on split-second decisions? It could be due to something called Somatic Markers.
These markers are thought-process shortcuts, triggered by our brain as a result of us making previous purchasing decisions.
An astonishing 50 percent of buying decisions are based on unconscious and spontaneous reactions.
Somatic Markers can explain why we might prefer certain brands over others.
Take the case of Andrex Toilet Paper over Kleenex for instance – the Andrex labrador puppy logo seems to give people the impression of it being linked to a young family, triggering their somatic markers and eventually creating a subconscious affinity towards it.
Even something as simple as colour plays an important role in deciding what product we ultimately go for.
From banks to stores, many places have taken this idea into account and used various colours to radically improve their business prospects.
Ultimately, Somatic Markers can be exploited by companies and marketers for marketing purposes, since they have such powerful influence over our buying decisions.
Exploiting Our Fears For Financial Gain: The Dangers Of Fear-Based Marketing
The truth is, marketers are becoming more and more aware of the powerful tool that fear can be in convincing people to buy products.
It’s been demonstrated repeatedly through various marketing techniques that leveraging our deepest fears can lead us to purchase whatever’s being sold.
Take for example, Lyndon B.
Johnson’s “Daisy” commercial from 1964 presidential campaign.
In this ad, a young girl plays with daisies before an impending nuclear explosion starts behind her as a way to remind voters of the possible consequences of not voting for him – essentially creating an association between voting for LBJ and safety from nuclear war.
Political strategist Tom Freedman conducted a study on how effective this commercial was by measuring people’s amygdala activity when watching it, and it was shown that there was a noticeable increase in fear-based stimulus – no surprise he won the election!
Or consider No More Tears Baby Shampoo from Johnson & Johnson, which promises to help avoid any pain or discomfort associated with regular shampoos.
This type of technique links the absence of their product with painful childhood memories, effortlessly selling the idea that without it you risk going back to times no one wants to go back to again.
Marketers clearly understand how powerful our fears can be in purchasing decisions and are increasingly using this knowledge to better sell us their products, and it works!
The Power Of Subliminal Messaging: How A Small Stimulus Can Make A Big Impact On Your Purchases
Subliminal messaging has been a subject of controversy for decades.
While it was declared banned by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1957 after a study purported to show its usage, its true form remains very much present in modern marketing.
Companies such as Philip Morris take advantage of this by using sensory stimuli such as scent, sound or even symbols to subconsciously entice customers to buy their products.
Neuromarketing studies have shown that there is indeed an effect on purchasing behavior due to subliminal messaging.
A recent experiment found that seeing happy or grumpy faces can actually influence people’s willingness to pay for something.
When test subjects were shown happy faces prior to pouring themselves a beverage, they were willing to pay double what those who were shown frowning faces would offer!
This leads us to the conclusion that subliminal messaging is used quite often in marketing and it induces us to buy more than we might if not under its influence.
So we should be aware so we don’t fall into the trap of marketers using these tactics!
Cigarette Health Warnings Do More Harm Than Good
It may seem counterintuitive, but cigarette health disclaimers actually do nothing to discourage smokers; in fact, they can even increase sales.
According to a study conducted by the author of Buyology, volunteer’s brain scans showed no neurological difference when they were exposed to images of cigarette warning labels versus not.
Additionally, an anti-smoking ad did not repulse people into quitting their habit as was intended; rather people focused on the friendly atmosphere depicted in the ad and their cravings for a cigarette increased.
This suggests that warnings and disclaimers can backfire: instead of discouraging the habit, it may actually encourage it further by drawing attention to the sociable atmosphere often associated with smoking.
How Coca-Cola And The Catholic Church Cultivate Loyalty Through Similar Strategies
Strong brands such as Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church have a lot in common when it comes to creating and maintaining loyalty amongst their followers.
For example, they both utilize quasi-religious rituals which help form an emotional connection between people and the brands or religions.
An example of this would be Oreo cookies; many people have their own rituals for eating the cookies, making it as much a ritual as it is a snack.
Additionally, just like major religions, strong brands often have missions that distinguish them from their competitors.
IBM’s mission is to provide “Solutions for a Small Planet” while Bang & Olufsen strives to constantly question the ordinary.
Brands also use methods such as creating an “us vs.
them” mentality to further reinforce loyalty and iconography in the form of logos; Nike’s “swoosh” being a prime example of this.
Lastly, studies show that our brains respond similarly to religious references and images from strong brands like Ferrari or Harley Davidson.
This demonstrates that there is an emotional engagement with strong brands similar to our spiritual attachments with religion – one which helps ensure loyalty for these respective entities.
The Seductive Power Of Sex In Advertising: Does It Actually Work?
Do sexual references in advertising work? Not the way we think they do.
We have all heard the phrase “sex sells”, and are inundated with sexually charged advertising campaigns daily.
But is this technique of marketing actually effective?
A study found that there was no correlation between sexual content in advertisements and an increase in sales.
They showed two commercial breaks, one with sexually explicit content from Sex and the City, and one from Malcolm in the Middle – those who watched Malcolm in the Middle were more likely to remember the ads!
What about those overtly sexual ad campaigns for brands like American Apparel? Even here, it turns out that it’s shock value more than sex itself that gets people interested.
In fact, these controversial images often suck away attention from what really matters: brand names and logos.
So do sexual references in advertising work? Not really, at least not how we’d initially assume they would.
Instead, it’s all about shock-value and controversy – not just sex or nudity alone.
Neuromarketing Helps Companies Make Smarter Decisions About Their Products And Marketing Strategies
Neuromarketing has the power to completely revolutionize the way we conduct market research.
Traditionally, surveys have been relied upon to determine consumer choices; however, this is often an inadequate tool because many of these choices are made on an unconscious level.
Neuromarketing enables companies to better understand their customers’ true motivations in order to make strategic product and marketing decisions.
Take for instance a study that looked at viewers who were watching Quizmania, The Swan and How Clean is Your House? In traditional questionnaires The Swan and How Clean Is Your House? were rated neck-and-neck in terms of likely repeat viewing.
However, brain scans told a different story — it was How Clean Is Your House? that actually proved more popular later on due to its greater success in neuromarketing.
Having access to such data also prevents businesses from making costly mistakes that may backfire instead of being successful — for example before airing a commercial featuring Kevin Federline, Nationwide Annuities could have used neuromarketing data which would show that it would scare away potential customers instead of attracting them.
The final message of Buyology: Understading Why We Buy and How Marketing Affects Our Buying Decisions is that we cannot always accurately judge our purchasing decisions, as these happen on a subconscious level.
In order to interpret consumer behaviour more effectively, marketers must now use neuromarketing techniques which look inside consumers’ brains and study their response to marketing strategies.
By combining classical marketing techniques with the new research findings from neuropsychologists, advertisers should be able to gain a better understanding of how people think and behave when they shop, allowing them to improve their current strategies and create even more successful campaigns in the future.