The Brain’s Secret Sauce of Purchasing Power

Direct and brand response marketing require motivational stimuli for a consumer to pick up the phone or go to an e-commerce site and purchase a product or service. What drives transactional conversion? Creative campaigns designed for users to make a purchase — hopefully resulting in a robust return on investment (ROI) that meets ideal key performance indices (KPIs). Now, with the advent of increasingly brilliant data science and martech companies providing artificial intelligence, understanding neuroscience can help to define why a purchasing decision is made and completed.

In other words, is the "secret sauce" a sequence of consumer touchpoints — or is it the result of repeatable imagery bringing an emotional response? Or both? Being able to determine what is important when devising a marketing campaign helps synthesize how the brain recognizes images that have been ingrained through repetitive emotional exposure. These concepts have had an enormous influence on marketing and advertising — from the days of Mad Men to avatars and now to the Internet of Things (IoT), all resulting in what is now known as "neuromarketing."

Understanding the neuroscience behind the reception and the construction of these neural pathways can help marketers access key emotions that precede impulsive purchasing. Yes, marketing and advertising relies on subconscious access. The result is loyalty, with a byproduct being word-of-mouth referrals. At its best — sprinkled with inspiration and aspiration – all marketing is framed to influence the subconscious mind and thus create a sequence of actions, namely the decision to purchase.

How have technology, the internet, social media, and cultural shifts changed how stimulus is received? Brands connect with consumers as if they were friends — even best friends. Technology has revolutionized shopping patterns, whether online or in a retail store, playing a much more fundamental role in managing the interactions between the seller and the customer.

Word-of-mouth influence and social media piggyback the foundation that cultural, religious, and gender segmentation status has created. Every human processes recognition the same way neurologically. This is why messaging and content creation transcend language and geography. It is that experience that marketing and advertising professionals manipulate in what is termed a call-to-action (CTA).

The stronger the CTA, the more reliable the intended response. Campaigns take this intended response and create storied brand arcs to generate responses based on informational, educational, and emotional input. These three, coupled with frequency of media exposure, will drive sales every time and support product demand. This is why brand response and direct response is crucial to lead generation.

It has been said that colors evoke certain emotions: orange equals enthusiasm; yellow, warmth; blue, calm and trust; and red, powerful and energetic. Using certain colors in marketing and advertising has been tested and proven effective for messaging. In digital advertising, colors are often A/B tested until winning combinations of colors, messaging, emotional stories, and information are garnered.

It is not enough to provide positive feelings about a brand. Namely, consumers respond to the following:

  • If it works for me, it will work for you.
  • Aspiration trumps inspiration.
  • Like beholds like, when targeting a specific demographic.
  • Tone of voice creates share of voice.

In essence, neuroscience as the impetus for purchase has a two-pronged place in the omnichannel experience:

  • Contributor: part of the communication channel
  • Influencer: driving impact across all channels

The idea of moving toward pleasure or away from pain is too narrow. What is relevant is that people purchase out of necessity. They purchase for price. They purchase when friends and family recommend. More and more, people are purchasing based on fear of missing out (FOMO) and wanting to be the first to experience a new product introduced to the marketplace.

And they purchase because they have been sold on a brand. If the product offers convenience, they will buy it. If the product or service offers security and protection (insurance), people will purchase. Does it bring happiness? Consider it bought.

Building brands and driving response are no longer mutually exclusive actions. They are symbiotic, defined as a strategic and executional initiative where brand building drives response and this response, in turn, builds the brand.

These campaigns typically incorporate elevated placements across programs, networks, and/or dayparts — and are held to more traditional awareness goals and less stringent DR cost-per goals. As a result, transactional revenue is robust, resulting in potential growth and profit.