What is Neuromarketing: Techniques and Examples

What is Neuromarketing: Techniques and Examples

11 March 27 March ~ 15 min read 1391 views
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Claspo Blog What is Neuromarketing: Techniques and Examples

Neuromarketing is the key to the success of modern big business. Companies such as Coca-Cola, HBO, Apple, and Google became industry leaders using it. They created perfect logos, advertising campaigns, product packaging, and communication policies by combining marketing with psychology and neuroscience. 

How did they do it? We will explain what neuromarketing is, how it works (with use cases), and what ethical contradictions to avoid. 

What is Neuromarketing

A brief definition of neuromarketing is as follows: the usage of cognitive psychology and neuroscience techniques in marketing. It sounds quite complicated, so let's see what these sciences study:

  1. Cognitive psychology studies the thinking and decision-making processes. As referred to in the definition of neuromarketing, it is the decision to buy certain products. 
  2. Neuroscience studies signals in the human nervous system. In our case, these are reactions to certain elements of marketing campaigns.


Thus, we can define neuromarketing more simply as the psychological and nerve signals analysis that enables us to determine consumer preferences and understand the decision-making process when buying certain products.

How Does Neuromarketing Work

Don't be afraid of the complicated scientific term. In fact, the essence of this technique is straightforward. Researchers demonstrate or test products and observe consumer reactions. Let's see the main types of neuromarketing in action.

1. Brand testing

Researchers demonstrate different options of logos, names, and color spectrums. They monitor consumer reactions and determine what emotions certain brands cause in them. This enables them to choose the option that best suits the company's marketing policy. For example, the emotions of the Pepsi brand are joy, excitement, and drive. Research shows that consumers mainly associate it with sports, active lifestyles, and public events.

2. Testing the user interface (UI)

User interface always affects sales, and neuromarketing research techniques allow you to adapt it to real users. For example, research organizers can detect their emotional states when interacting with the interface. Knowing this information, you can reframe it to evoke the desired emotions in the audience.

Another example is tracking users' gaze to discover how they move through the interface and which parts and elements of the page attract the most attention. These insights help determine the most effective call-to-action (CTA) button placement. With Claspo, you can create both built-in widgets and pop-ups with CTA buttons and place them in strategic spots where site visitors focus their attention. Our analytics will help you monitor the key performance indicators of your widget. With our A/B testing, you can verify which widget placement brings the highest click-through and conversion rates.

3. Product testing

This is a very simple but effective type of research. Participants use certain products in realistic scenarios. Researchers monitor emotions, paying particular attention to the peaks of positive and negative ones. This makes it possible to evaluate user experience on a subconscious level, getting the most objective information possible. Even if a consumer cannot express their attitude to a product, researchers already know its strengths and weaknesses. This methodology helped Hyundai create perfect car interiors that did not cause negative feedback from any target audience member.

4. Subconscious choice

This is a simulation of an actual situation at a point of sale or on a website. Consumers are shown different sets of products with similar properties but different packaging. Their task is to decide as quickly as possible without too much thought. Research on neuromarketing shows that such tests are very effective, as they allow us to assess a product not in a vacuum but in comparison with competitors. An example is PayPal. They tested two commercials with different unique selling propositions and found that ads promoting convenience and speed elicited stronger brain responses in consumers and performed better than those promoting safety and security.

Want to follow PayPal's example and find out what represents the most value for your audience? Claspo has you covered!

Our A/B testing template includes the main steps and key points to validate your marketing hypotheses competently and get meaningful results for your business strategy.

5. Neural pricing

Consumers are shown the same products or sets of products but with different prices. The research allows us to identify what price makes most customers buy a certain product right here and now. In this case, the examples are right next to us because everyone has seen the prices of $9.99 or $19.99. According to William Poundstone's research, a discount of just one cent can increase sales by 24%!

6 Neuromarketing Techniques

There is a misconception that neuromarketing tools are costly and difficult to use. But in fact, there are quite simple methods among them.

1. fMRI

Functional magnetic resonance imaging. A brain scan that "highlights" the brain areas that are activated during the study. It enables us to objectively assess what emotions and phenomena a particular brand or product is associated with. This is one of the most expensive but effective neuromarketing methods - according to Marketsplash statistics, the frequency of its use has increased by 80% over the past 10 years.

2. EEG

Electroencephalography. Another type of brain scanning. It allows you to accurately determine the intensity of positive or negative emotions. This technique is very popular because it uses cheaper portable equipment that does not require large investments.

3. Biometrics

One of the most popular neuromarketing tools is measuring pulse rate, breathing rate, sweat secretion intensity, mobility, and other external expressions of emotions. This is an affordable technique, but it has a subjective component - individual reactions of each person. Therefore, it requires a very careful interpretation of the results.

4. Eye tracking

This involved monitoring eye position using special cameras or glasses. It allows you to identify specific product parts, packaging, or user interfaces that attract the consumer's attention. This technique is quite accurate and easy to interpret. Tobii is a leader in such research.

5. Pupillometry

This technique involves monitoring the condition of the subject's pupils. Pupil dilation indicates user interest in the material being viewed. Based on the results of such research, you can understand whether your advertising message, website, or marketing material generates the appropriate interest and engagement level among the target audience and adjust your strategy as necessary.

To conduct this research, you can promote two or more special offers on your website using Claspo widgets. Having set up the time interval between their display, you will show them one after one (for example, every 3 minutes) and track which causes the dilation of the pupils (that is, the greatest interest) in most users.


6. Face coding

Face coding is recognizing emotions through facial expressions. This technique is ideal for hidden RT testing. If a research participant does not know how the information is collected, they cannot influence the results. This makes obtaining very accurate, though difficult to interpret, data possible.

5 Examples of Neuromarketing

Let's see how well-known brands use modern research methods.

1. Chanel

The company was suffering from the low effectiveness of its advertising campaigns, so it conducted a neuromarketing study. It turned out that the source of the problem was minimalistic posters with short text and a large image of the product, which attracted all the attention, preventing people from reading the commercial offer and call to action. Based on the results of applying eye-tracking technology, new posters were created with smaller images and more text.


2. Frito-Lay

A subsidiary of PepsiCo is known for its successful examples of neuromarketing. It conducts large-scale testing using fMRI and EEG techniques when developing its product packaging. One of the experiments gave an unexpected result. In a test commercial, a woman threw a packet of Cheetos into a washing machine, dyeing the laundry a deep orange color. All the test participants interviewed expressed negative feelings about this, but the fMRI scan showed that they all subconsciously experienced positive emotions. As a result, the video was successfully shown in most US states.

3. Xbox Gaming Studios

One of the top computer game developers uses a system of "rewards and punishments" to increase gamers' engagement levels and reduce the churn rate. Rewards are various achievements, bonuses, and other rewards that cause a rapid release of dopamine- pleasure hormone. Punishment is a lost profit due to abandoned games and envy of the success of other people who spend more time in the virtual world. This manipulation of emotional reactions and hormonal levels is very effective. According to the International Journal of Scientific Trends, this example of neuromarketing has brought computer game developers more than $100 billion in additional revenue over the past 5 years.


4. HBO

After releasing the first seasons of the Game of Thrones TV series, the multimedia giant commissioned a large-scale study. Its participants watched the series while scientists measured key biometric indicators. The result was a selection of key scenes that caused the strongest emotional reactions, either positive or negative. These images were used in trailers, outdoor advertising, books, banners, etc. Experts estimate that using neuromarketing helped increase the number of views of the following seasons by an average of 15%.


5. Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts did one of the classic examples of neuromarketing in 2012. It sprayed a coffee-scented air freshener in its establishments only when its advertisement was broadcast on loudspeakers. Surveys showed that people soon began to associate the smell of coffee with the Dunkin' Donuts brand. Spraying a similar scent at bus stops made them return to the establishments and order coffee.


Why Should You Use Neuromarketing

When using traditional marketing you need to build hypotheses and conduct experiments on your own, while modern neuromarketing technologies allow you to accurately establish cause-and-effect relationships. And it has a number of advantages.

1. The most honest answers possible

One of the reasons why neuromarketing is important for marketers is that it makes it possible to obtain data without distortion. According to Hubspot, 70% of professionals trust such research more than traditional surveys and focus groups. Their results are not affected by the political or religious beliefs of participants, social status and profession, cultural background, or level of education.

2. Updated information

During standard testing, participants express their general attitude toward a product, and it is usually difficult for them to say what exactly causes positive or negative emotions. Neuromarketing research allows us to identify these moments and link them to specific aspects of product use, such as looking for the order button on a website or opening a bottle.

3. Budget optimization

Yahoo Finance reports that the average cost of neuromarketing research was $10,000 per 15 participants in 2021. And statistics from the Edward Lowe Foundation show that the average cost of traditional focus groups is about $3,000 per participant or $45,000 in similar conditions. In most cases, neuromarketing in action is more accurate and cheaper.


4. Non-obvious answers

Modern methods can reveal hidden secrets of the success of certain brands, such as original color combinations in logos, rounded letters in names, or odors in stores. It is much harder to get the same answers in conventional research, as you must gather large groups of people and conduct many expensive tests.

Is Neuromarketing Ethical?

The humanistic paradigm, which includes the concept of "ethics," empowers individuals to recognize their needs, prioritize their satisfaction, and determine the best way to fulfill them. Ethics is about respect for each individual's subjectivity and free will, as well as the recognition of equal rights for all individuals. We are talking about freedom of choice.

So, can we consider neuromarketing to be ethical? To answer this question, let's look at the concept of "ethical choice" within the framework of marketing and neuroscience separately.

  • Neuroscience generally denies the idea of freedom of choice. According to it, many unconscious factors influence our behavior and choices. The notion of choice itself is considered a hallucination, an illusion, and a byproduct of consciousness that is ultimately determined by factors beyond our awareness. Therefore, "neuro" is not about ethics.
  • Marketing is designed to serve the interests of the business owner. Whatever the policy of customer relationships and whatever measures are taken to satisfy the target audience's needs - all this comes from the interests of the business owner. Accordingly, the needs of clients (as well as employees, partners, and so on) are valuable primarily as an incentive or obstacle to achieving the business owner's goals. Individual freedom of choice does not play a central role here.

Based on the above, the “ethics of neuromarketing” does not exist. Your task is to find a balance between meeting the needs of your business and maintaining respect for your audience. What does it mean?

You are unlikely to refrain from appealing to your audience's triggers and pain points. However, you can still refrain from damaging your audience's dignity and manipulating feelings such as shame, fear, or guilt. This way, you have every chance to maintain audience loyalty, which results in long-term relationships with your company. Yes, this is again about your benefit, and this is inevitable.

No one would like to hear from the surgeon: "This body itself knows how to cope with an open fracture, so I will not interfere and violate its integrity." Just as a business owner would not like to hear from a marketer: “As a sign of respect for our customers' freedom of choice, I will refrain from drawing their attention to our products or services. I understand that they may have more pressing needs at the moment, and our offerings may not be what they need now."

Thus, if the neuroethics of neuromarketing is more of a myth, then non-violent communication and showing empathy for the target audience is a reality.

Stay Ahead with Claspo

Since Claspo widgets are one of the ways to communicate with your audience, using neuromarketing tactics will allow you to improve and strengthen this communication. In a perfect scenario, you apply the results of your research when choosing the text, design, placement, and display scenarios of your widget. But since conducting research can be a time-consuming and sometimes expensive process, you can start by implementing commonly accepted neuromarketing tactics, such as:

  • Appeal to a sense of urgency. Use widgets with a countdown timer to display limited-time offers. It can encourage website site visitors to buy immediately.


  • Demonstrate social proof. Add customer testimonials, ratings, or the number of people who have already bought a product or subscribed to a service in a widget. It reinforces the bandwagon effect, whereby people are likelier to choose what others choose.
  • Promote mutual exchange. Offer something of value, such as a discount promo code or a free guide, in the widget in exchange for an email address, a social mention, etc. According to the principle of reciprocity, people are more likely to respond positively when they feel they are getting something in return.

Whatever the benefits of neuromarketing, the main thing is to test and analyze how the above and other tactics work for your business and your target audience. Fortunately, Claspo's built-in analytics and A/B testing feature makes this task much easier for you.

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