Having some understanding how people behave and make decisions can make a big difference to your marketing efforts, and not surprisingly with a name like BrainWeb, its something that interests us. Marketing psychology is the study of peoples cognitive processes when browsing and making buying decisions. Research from the field has direct implications for digital marketing and influences our website design work.
People like to think they make rational buying decisions, but the reality is very different. When scientists scanned people’s brains while they made buying decisions they found that the emotional parts of the brain were more active than the logical reasoning parts. It is estimated that an average decision to purchase is based on 20% logic and 80% emotion. Another study by the Advertising Research Foundation found that the a consumer’s emotional response to an advert had a stronger effect on the intent to buy than the content of the advert. This was by a factor of 3 to 1 for TV adverts and 2 to 1 for print advertising. Consumers perceive the same personality traits in brands as they do people, and respond to those traits in the same way.
The brain has evolved to make decisions as quickly and accurately as possible, but these two traits do not go hand in hand. In order to make a quick decision you often have to sacrifice some accuracy. This can lead to a systematic deviation from rational judgments, due to inferences based on illogical thought patterns. The brain is taking shortcuts known as cognitive biases, and a little knowledge of these biases can help your marketing efforts.
Psychologists found that when making a decision subjects don’t tend to judge something on its intrinsic value, but instead compare it to its immediate alternatives. When shopping you won’t judge a new phone against every other phone, but rather against those on the shelves next to it. This is know as the anchoring bias. There are many other recorded biases that affects consumer behaviour, including the framing effect, the ingroup bias, the loss aversion bias, and the status quo bias.
The implications from psychology research on marketing are many, far more than can be covered in one blog post. However, a little understanding the human mind leads to some general guidelines that every brand should adhere to.
- Admit honest errors: Experimenters gave participants one of two fictitious company reports explaining poor performance over the last year. The first report emphasised strategic faults while the second argued that external event were the cause. The participants viewed the first company much more favourably. As with our perception of people, admitting honest errors shows you’re in control and taking responsibility.
- Set minimal parameters: While canvassing door to asking for donations charity volunteers were given one of two questions to ask. Either “would you be willing to help by giving a donation”, or “would you be willing to help by giving a donation, every penny will help”. The second question increased the number of donations by nearly 100%.
- Offer immediate gratification: People respond much more strongly to immediate rewards than to delayed reward. The midbrain becomes more active when considering an immediate reward, and words like instant, immediate and fast can all increase midbrain activity.
- Stand for something: Just like with human relationship, people are attracted to brands with have shared values. One study found 64% of people who have a strong relationship with a brand stated it was because of a shared value.
- Add an extra wow factor: Surprise your customers with a small favour, something as insignificant as a complimentary drink can change a person’s view. The shoe retailer Zappos, legendary for customer satisfaction, regularly upgrades customers from standard to a 24 hour delivery service
This infographic was designed by Salesforce.