Neuroscience meets marketing - with a growing attraction for consumers to stay online, what can neuromarketing teach marketers about the attention of shoppers and their purchase journey?

  • Neuromarketing involves the analysis of brain activity to help marketers understand what can captivate the attention of shoppers and what motivates them to make impulsive purchases.
  • Consumer behaviour is always changing, and so that marketers can truly understand what triggers the start and completion of their purchase journey, the use of neuromarketing will provide a deeper insight into the stimuli behind these decisions.

What type of shoppers are there?

Controllers: These are the more rational and sensible shoppers, who put more thought behind their purchases. Their purchases are usually planned, prior research is carried out as they search for the best deal.

Impulse shoppers: They are quite literally the opposite of 'controllers'. Impulse shoppers seek immediate gratification even if this contradicts their situation or goal. Their purchases are often made quickly and spontaneously with little to no prior consideration.

The high street has been fighting a hard battle with internet retailers. The internet appeals to the ‘controller’ shoppers far more, but one thing the high street can hold onto is the power that physical proximity to a product can have on impulse purchases. Marketers considering a strategy with neuromarketing will equip them to better understand how to entice consumers back to the high street and to shop impulsively.

What are the triggers?

Research into neuromarketing suggests there are internal and external incentives that trigger impulse purchases.

Pure: Those who make purchases in response to emotional triggers.

Reminder: When a shopper comes across a product they do not have but previously decided was necessary to solve a problem.

Suggested: When a shopper purchases a product they did not set out to buy but were convinced through a deal or fear of losing out.

Planned: When a purchase is planned but bought earlier due to a special offer or fear of it selling out.

How can neuromarketing help?

1. Retail Therapy

The act of purchasing something new provides a feeling of empowerment for the consumer that is not as easily replicated in other aspects of life. On the other hand, the negative emotions associated, like guilt and regret, can also trigger impulsive shopping. 

For people who are highly stressed and reactive, the short-term fulfilment that comes with impulse shopping can enhance positive self-feelings and their overall mood. Generally, impulse shopping is associated as a way of coping with stress, and those consumers who shop in a negative mood tend to indulge in these impulsive desires as a way to improve their mood.

Therefore, marketers should look to promote this need to self-gift as a way of eliminating a shopper’s negative mood to drive impulsive purchases.

2. Individualism or Collectivism?

Shoppers will buy products that express either their individualism or collectivism, it is a means to demonstrate their personality.

Collectivism is associated with consumers who believe they belong to collective groups like family, friends, or co-workers and follow the values of these groups. To entice these kinds of shoppers, marketers should advertise the must-have items of these social groups.

Individuals see themselves as autonomous and independent, their preference and personal goals take priority. They are more susceptible to loss aversion, with the concern to avoid feeling negatively in the future. To encourage these shoppers, high street retailers should ensure the shops are prioritising aesthetics and not overstocking so that the individualists feel if they do not make the purchase now, they will lose out later on.

3. Play to the fantasy

Fantasy promotes emotions that surpasses logical and rational thinking, they ignite a spontaneous need to act. If marketers focus on creating experiences in shops that promote the creation of fantasies which will reduce cognitive evaluation, shoppers are more likely to ignore their better judgement and instead, make impulsive purchases.

4. Focus on environment 

Absorption occurs when one is immersed in self-involving experiences that are caused by engaging stimuli. Shoppers who are absorptive will have a more unconventional thought pattern and marketers can engage this through sights and sounds that enchant and inspire

In using the shopping environment through colours, smells, sounds, and textures, shoppers can be influenced to make more impulsive purchases.

Consumers like to believe all their purchases are rational decisions, however, the influence of the unconscious mind has more power than shoppers think. If marketers find a way to harness the drive behind impulsive purchases, high street shopping could win the battle against internet retailers.

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