What We See Influences What We Buy
What drove Walmart in 2008 to rebrand itself from WALMART to Walmart? What was the logic behind transforming xerox, ebay, facebook and amazon logos from upper case capitalization to lower case lettering in their brand logos? Other corporate entities choosing to reimagine their logos in lower case include yahoo, at&t, citibank, intel, nickelodeon, and a host of other household names. The strategic purpose isn’t simple, and some major corporate players have not chosen to transform to lower case logo brands, but the trend is clear and growing. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Radically refurbishing a corporate logo company wide is a very expensive proposition, yet many familiar corporate giants have decided to take that risk.
Corporations spend considerable resources on selecting suitable branding visuals for their products and services. Final decisions are made after consumer research with focus groups, marketing design conferences, and other study tools. Subtle and unconscious impacts on the emotional processing part of the human brain reveals what will effect consumer perceptions and choices. Brand name logos and visuals selection factors include the use of color, font, logo size and other visual cues. Could the choice of capitalization or lower case lettering effect consumer preferences? The answer is positively yes. Research particularly reveals that female consumers have a definite preference for lower case graphics in logos, and this should be kept in mind when creating visual appeals to that market segment.
In a study published in the Journal of Retailing, Na Wen and Nicholas Laurie found that gender association has a profound effect on capitalized vs lower case graphic messaging. Understanding this impact on consumer decisions can aid corporate marketing divisions use scientific evidence to determine their company brand presentation strategies. The study demonstrated that lower case brand logos, i.e. adidas, were associated with female attributes, contrasted with upper case logos, i.e. NIKE, which were found to be associated with male attributes. In addition, female characteristics are strongly linked to lower case brand logos while listing upper case logos are linked to male characteristics.
Nearly half the human brain is involved in processing visual information. What we see has a strong influence on what we buy. What about other senses, like hearing, tasting, smelling and touching?
What We Hear Influences What We Buy
A group of psychologists studied wine customer behavior in a 1999 test case measuring responses to background music and its impact on wine variety selections. On different business days either German or French music was played at a retail wine location. Sales figures showed French wine outselling German on days when French music was played in shops, while German wine outsold French at a 3:1 rate when German music was played. Yet interestingly enough, 90% of customers insisted background music had no relevance to their choice of wines purchased.
The background music study produced as many questions as answers. How are consumer decisions generated? Are those choices made on logic, fact or reasoning, or are they at least as strongly driven by feelings, emotional reactions, and personal intuition?
Conscious level decision processes are the usual target of traditional marketers. Most of us assume that individuals make their life choices on logical factors, data, and objective reasoning. The new science of Neuromarketing shifts the target point to the strong influence of the subconscious mind on consumer decision making and choices. A perfectly sensible approach, considering that more than 95% of our decisions, including purchases of goods and services, are the result of emotional, intuitive and impulsive reactions to sensory inputs.
How Does Traditional Marketing Miss the Target?
Principles associated with traditional marketing methods are often ineffective because they ignore unconscious level decision processes. Beverage giant Coca Cola launched the New Coke line with great fanfare in 1985. It boasted an improved flavor that would outshine Pepsi products with a superior beverage formula. More than 200,000 people taste-tested the New Coke and the vast majority preferred it to the original Coke and Pepsi.
Shortly after the introduction of New Coke, Coca Cola faced a huge and unexpected customer uprising. Angry Coke drinkers began protests nationwide demanding the return of their beloved original Coke. How did Coca Cola so badly misread the national mood? It’s simple. They failed to take into account the strong tradition and emotional ties between consumers and original Coke. The beverage had a 100 year run as an iconic “feel good” drink, and that connection was only deeply rooted in taste. Consumers had formed a strong association between drinking Coke and feeling good, and New Coke broke that spell. Untangling that marketing blunder was a massive and costly undertaking for Coca Cola.
How Vital Is the Neuromarketing Focus?
A major revenue stream for Google is paid ads from search engine results. The color scheme of those display ads is always blue. The link between color and emotion at the subconscious level is strong. This linkage can even be observed at a more subtle level involving differing shades of the same color and how they can increase the click rate of Google display ads.
Even at color shade levels not noticed by conscious observation, differing emotional responses are evoked which impact and encourage particular behaviors in humans. The aim of Neuromarketing is to discover what factors in the consumer experience are capable of motivating action and eliciting positive responses to marketing messaging.
Why do consumers make buying choices? Sometimes those decisions are driven by stimuli that can’t be physically seen, tasted or measured. The most sophisticated tech companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon have mastered the identification and deployment of messaging which provides those inputs and optimize the customer experience. Neuromarketing builds strong bonds of emotional attachment, and helps to cultivate lasting brand loyalty and increased sales revenues.
For centuries since the beginning of mass communication as simple as the printing press, business has relied on basic instinct and traditional beliefs about the drivers of consumer choice and behavior. The breakthrough approach of Neuromarketing changes everything, replacing guesswork and assumptions with precise and tested scientific evidence that accurately and efficiently crafts marketing messages that win the hearts and minds of consumers. It is the ultimate merging of behavioral economics, social psychology, and neuroscience into a powerful and highly effective marketing machine.
Consumer choices can be driven by a wide variety of subconscious inputs and emotional responses. In a recent 17-minute TED Talk, Dr. Terry Wu, CEO of Neuromarketing Services, introduced Neuromarketing and why the brain buys to the general public as well as marketing professionals. He discussed a number of examples illustrating how unconscious emotional processes strongly guide our purchasing decisions.