Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The New Way Marketers Make You Buy

From MSN Money.

"Neuromarketing, which relies on technologies from the field of neuroscience, such as functional MRIs and PET scans and other biological measures, "gives us a look inside that black box," Dooley adds. "It doesn't change what's happening. The real promise of neuromarketing is to help advertisers and product developers get better feedback from customers, for better market research."

Neuromarketing doesn't change what happens to you when you look at a Porsche or the new G line of Gatorade drinks. But neuromarketers think that by gauging your unconscious emotional responses to ads, websites and products, they can alter those messages to increase your engagement and drive your purchasing choices.

But can they?"


"Lindstrom found that when smokers looked at a billboard of a cowboy on a horse, with a certain red background, it would kick up the neurological response in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain, associated with pleasure and addiction. Guess why.

Paradoxically, health warnings on cigarette packages, Lindstrom found, also stimulated the nucleus accumbens, suggesting that those warnings actually increased the craving for a smoke instead of squelching it."


"Emotions tag information for relevance," Marci says. So, your emotional response to a brand or product (cowboy = smoking = feeling good) can nudge it to the top of your to-do -- or to-buy -- list.

The marketers' job is to flip those emotional switches by testing and measuring the elements that stir consumers' level of interest or engagement."


"It's not about mind control," Marci says. "It's more about optimizing stimuli, whether that's a TV ad, website or shelf display. The world is a cluttered place. How do you break through that clutter?"


What to do about it:

" * Think before you spend. If you notice a sudden preference for a certain brand of overpriced face cream but you can't say why, stop. "Be sure that there is a conscious thought process going on," Dooley says, "so that any short-term appeal is muted." (Hint: Mom was right. Comparison shopping pays off.)

* Hold onto your cash. "The moment when someone takes out their credit card or cash is a moment of consciousness," Marci says. Don't even take out your wallet unless you're sure of your reasons for buying.

* Beware the fantasy. I asked Marci why catalogs, in particular, can be such a strong temptation to spend. He said that catalogs play to the fact that you're probably browsing in a quiet moment at home, when you can get caught up in the fantasy these marketing tools provide. The same may be true of a TV commercial or a website. If you find yourself sliding into that life you've always wanted to live as Robert Redford's hip, Western, laid-back, horse-riding neighbor, don't click on that shopping cart.

* Visualize the future. Dooley says that whenever you're tempted to spend money on something you don't need (but your brain is telling you that you desperately want), visualize one of your bigger priorities, such as a new home, a college-bound kid, a jet-setting retirement. "By focusing on the most compelling aspects of the long-term reward, you lessen the power of that short-term desire," he says."

Just like Mickey D's sells the smell, OTC smoking cessation products sell the nicotine delivery system, and makeup sells the look of youth, marketers use your weaknesses to sell everything--even weaknesses you didn't know you had.


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