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Nudge consumers into buying with framing

Nudge customers with framing

We live in a world in which we are continuously flooded by advertisement. Turn on the radio, look at Youtube, or take a stroll through town: marketing is everywhere. As a consumer, we are exposed to an overload of stimuli. And as a marketer, there is a lot of competition to take on. You need to stand out and persuade your potential customers. This could be achieved by understanding the AIDA-model and using powerful and clear communication. That is why this week we will discuss a psychological effect that is all about persuasive communication called framing. Like priming, by using framing, small changes in your content could have a major impact. Get ready for some wordplay and learn how to optimise your content!

What is framing?

The most important thing to understand about framing is that it is perceptual. This means it’s not about what you say, but how you say it. In other words, you need to choose the right frame for your words and images. Compare this with choosing a frame for a picture you printed: when the frame doesn’t suit the picture, the overall look will not come together. When choosing the frame, it is important to know your target audience. In the end, you want to frame your content in such a way it will impact this audience. Dove is an example of a company that clearly chose their target audience: with their real women campaign, they wanted to deliver a message addressed to the average woman. They have commercial showing women of all shapes to emphasize the idea that women should embrace their body. Now, who’s your target? Framing is not about what you say, but how you say it Click To Tweet If you haven’t found your target audience yet, we will give you some tips to determine it.
  • Determine the purpose of your product. What benefits will your customers get from buying it? How does it fill the needs of your customers?
  • What type of person will buy your product? Make a list of features like age, interests and gender. Do they browse online? These are important things to know.
  • Determine the expertise you deliver. Is this a very specific area, or do you target a broad group of people?
  • Who is your competition? This will help you determine why you are unique in what you do. Try to look for the gap or the service that is still missing.
Writing and creating content for a specific group is easier than writing for a wider audience. Also, you will address more people because they will feel more connected to your content.

Choose your words wisely

Now that you have determined your target audience, let’s see how to put your content in the right frame. We told you framing is all about what our eyes see, or in this case, read. Like priming, framing automatically trigger connections and words in our brain. Try it yourself: don’t think about a bear. Did it work? Probably not, because the word bear and associating words were automatically triggered in your brain. Choose words that you want to trigger in your consumer’s brain. When doing this, think about content that your customers are drawn to. These words will, in return, affect your customers’ emotion. If you master this, your content will contribute to a convincing message. Let’s show you a simple example of how to frame words. Compare the next two sentences and guess which one will be more effective:
  1. This chocolate chip cookie only contains 20% sugar.
  2. This chocolate chip cookie only contains 6-gram sugar.
While the first sentence focusses on the amount of sugar in percentages, the second sentence highlights the amount of sugar in grams. As a result, you can show a lower number, thus making it more attractive. This doesn’t change anything about the cookies, they still contain 20% sugar, however. With this message, you can convince a consumer to buy the product. So, when consumers are in doubt, using the right words can nudge them into the buying mode. When consumers are in doubt, using the right words can nudge them into the buying mode. Click To Tweet The best thing about framing is that you can use it for all kinds of content. Even a small change, like with the cookie example, can affect how your customers perceive your product. Up next, we will focus on how to adjust your content by looking at your customer’s emotions.

We hate to lose

Emotion and feelings play a huge role in neuromarketing. They can drive consumer behaviour. We try to place ourselves in the customer’s mind and figure out what their motivations are. There are two forms of framing:
  1. Gain-framing: the profit someone will gain by making a specific choice;
  2. Loss-framing: the loss someone will experience when making a choice.
Research shows that loss-framing is more powerful. We feel a lot sadder when losing an amount of money compared to the joy we feel when receiving the same amount. This emotion is so strong, that we are twice as motivated to prevent the loss compared to win. This means your customers’ brain will strongly react to (the fear of) a loss. How can you combine this fact with framing?
  1. Use the right language that triggers corresponding emotions; think about your target audience and the words they are susceptible too. Example: if you own a travel agency, use positive and appealing words. Going on a holiday makes you happy, so your goal is to trigger these positive emotions!
  2. Use a form of loss in your content; tell your customer what they will miss if they don’t use your product. Example: if you own a webshop that sells chocolate, offer a limited edition bar for just one week. This will trigger loss-aversion, meaning your customers are more likely to try the limited edition chocolate as long as it is available.
We hope you have a better understanding of how forming the right sentences and choosing the right words can have a big impact on your marketing content. Framing is, like priming, a method where a small change can have a big effect. It is important to think about your target audience and their emotions. Have any questions about applied neuromarketing? Need any help with this? Get in touch!
Brain coral – Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson

What every marketer should know about the brain

Welcome back to Braintalk. A series of brain-related topics for marketers looking for business growth. By teaching you the basics you will get a better understanding of your customer’s brain. In the last two blogs, we talked about dopamine and serotonin. This time we will explain some basic facts about the brain’s structure and functions. Keep reading if you want to know what is happening inside your consumer’s head!

Mapping the mind

I remember attending my first psychobiology class. It was a collection of odd-sounding words and strange-looking drawings. I was confused. The brain is a complex organ. Scientists make discoveries every day and still we don’t know everything there is to know about it. In a simple and understandable way, we will show you how the brain was formed and how it functions. Don’t get discouraged by all the names. The point is to understand it is more than grey mass resembling a walnut. This walnut makes it possible to do everything we do. Talking, reading, thinking, running, dreaming. The brain is the headquarter of the body. It consists of many different parts and interrelated areas that work together as one system.
The Human Brain By Dr Johannes Sobotta [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The brain viewed from below, showing the cerebellum.
Let’s start off with the largest part of the human brain: the cerebrum.

The cerebrum

The cerebrum consists of a left and right part called hemispheres. The outer layers of the brain also belong to the cerebrum. These are the cortices, better known as the cerebral cortex. Last, there are also structures deeper inside the brain belonging to the cerebrum. With our cerebrum, we can control all our voluntary actions in the body.

The cerebral cortex

Let us zoom in on the cerebral cortex. This is the part of the brain that handles the functions we use every day. It consists of grey matter; the outer grey and tangled looking layer of the brain. All the tangles and caverns are the work of evolution. It allows for a larger surface into a limited space, which results in greater diversity of functions. Remember we talked about neurons in our dopamine article? Most of them are located here. If we zoom in even further we arrive at the lobes.

Four Lobes

The cerebral cortex can be divided into four main layers—or lobes—that organise the connectivity of these neurons. They are:
  1. Frontal lobe: problem-solving (e.g. solving a puzzle)
  2. Parietal lobe: movement (e.g. moving our fingers)
  3. Temporal lobe: auditory perception (e.g. listening to music)
  4. Occipital lobe: visual perception (e.g. looking at a painting)
The exact functions of our brain areas are more complex than we described, but in this article, we will focus on what’s relevant to you. The different structures are highly connected and work together closely. An example is listening to music. Vibration-sensitive neurons in your ear give a signal to a specialised area of the brain, which passes it to other areas to extract notes, instruments and voices. Eventually, all signals from different sensory systems are processed and fused together for you to consciously perceive the song.

Biggest brain

Humans are distinctive from other animals. We walk on two legs, talk, show a greater range of emotions, and are able to send rockets into space. There is also another crucial difference: we have big brains. Actually the biggest of all primates in proportion to our body. Our cortex is the source of our intelligence and resourcefulness. But what caused this? The answer is evolution. Our brain has developed extremely fast compared to other primates. Scientists believe our brains grew to accommodate to a fast-changing environment, which enabled more advanced functions such as language, to evolve. The way we speak has changed enormously. From the time we lived in our caves to where we are now; using Emoji’s and learning a second or even third language. When looking at the evolution of our brain, there are three phases—or—brains that have developed to where it is today:
  1. Reptilian brain
  2. Limbic system
  3. Neocortex

The reptilian brain

The oldest part of the brain is called the reptilian brain and handles the most basic functions related to survival and instinct. Breathing and heart rate are examples of functions regulated by this part.

The limbic system

The limbic system—also called the middle brain—is responsible for memories and emotion. A lot of mammals have a limbic system, meaning they hold memories and feel emotions.

The Neocortex

Remember we talked about the outer layer of the brain holding a lot of different functions? This layer is also called the neocortex, the latest addition to our brain. Most advanced functions like reasoning and abstract thought are located here. Simply put, the brain is built up beginning with the most simple functions and ending with the most complex ones.

Our instincts drive our decisions

When it comes to consumer behaviour, it might seem logical that our new brain—the neocortex—makes rational choices by looking at relevant information. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux argues that this is not true and that our brain signals flow from the old brain to the new. This means our decisions are way less rational than we think. Even though we have a new and more developed brain, our instinctive brain is still very active. Read more about this distinction and conflict in the consumer’s mind here. We don't make rational choices when we're buying. We let our emotions decide. Click To Tweet

Wiring and connecting

We know that our brain has developed significantly over the last million years. But did you know you can change your own brain within a few weeks? This is because of a powerful ability called neuroplasticity.
Rewire your brain by meditating Photo by Jared Rice
Rewire your brain by meditating
It is possible for the brain to modify connections, make adaptations and rewire itself. People who recovered from brain injury are a perfect example of this. If damaged, the brain will look for new ways to function like it did before. Simply said, our brain can remap parts to work together to make something happen. If there’s damage somewhere, a different area can take over that function. So how can you improve your wiring and connections? In short: new experiences.

New Experiences

The key to this is environmental enrichment that relies on sensory and motor stimuli. The brain is like a muscle. If you want to improve a certain skill you can strengthen it by practising. Research shows that the more a person seeks out new experiences, the stronger the wiring in the respective brain areas becomes. Because the brain is so malleable, it is important to keep it fit. We used to think there was a critical period for brain development only during childhood, but neuroplasticity is something we can benefit from throughout all of our life. A few ways to stay fit are through meditation, physical exercise, and learning a new language. How do you keep your brain fit?

A sneak peek in your consumer’s head

So far we have discussed some brain areas- and functions, but how do we even know these things? There are a lot of different methods that enable us to analyse this. We can inspect the effects of brain damage or look at brain activity. Information about the brain is also becoming more and more valuable in marketing. It can give you insights that are typically not accessible through standard methods like questionnaires. As you probably already know, neuromarketing is the relatively new field that combines neuroscience with marketing. We discuss the ethics of neuromarketing here. Let’s look into one method to give you an idea of how brain research works. We explained how evolution makes us smarter. We have evolved to the point where we invented a machine that tells us what brain area is active in which specific function. This is called functional Magnetic Response Imaging or fMRI. When you put someone in a scanner and let them perform a task you can see what area of the brain shows activation. With this information, you can conclude that the area (or areas) are involved with the execution of this task. This means the neurons in this area are communicating with other neurons (what is a neuron). How are we able to measure brain activity? We do this by detecting changes in blood flow in the brain. When our brain uses a certain area, blood flow to that specific area will increase. Simply said, if someone in a fMRI scanner moves his or her right arm, you can see what area is active, because blood flow to that area has increased. Even though fMRI is not a frequently used tool in marketing, it is a promising tool able to reveal subconscious processes and aspects that are not visible by the naked eye. We have already introduced you to this combination with the classical Pepsi versus Coke experiment in this article about wanting versus liking. This experiment shows that brand positioning is based on emotions and memory; brain processes that can be researched with fMRI. There’s still a lot of improvement to be made, but the first principles for neuromarketing are there. If we are lucky, we might experience a moment when we can peek inside a consumer’s head in an instance (this also sounds a bit scary, to be honest). Until then, we will inform you about the brain with the knowledge we have, give you neuromarketing tools and help you optimize your marketing strategy. If we made you curious, keep following our Braintalk series to learn more about the brain, optimizing your Facebook ads and other interesting developments!
Top 20 must read neuromarketing books

Top 20 Neuromarketing Books You Must Read

We’ve selected 20 books about neuromarketing that we believe should be on your bookshelf.

Some of them give you a broad overview of neuromarketing and others deep-dive into the conscious and subconscious brain.


Influence by Cialdini

By Robert B. Cialdini

In his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ (1984) Cialdini explains in detail the fundamental principles of persuasion that get us to say yes. Including how they are used against us by compliance professionals like salespeople, advertisers and con artists. Knowing these principles will allow you both to become a skilled persuader yourself and to defend yourself against manipulation attempts.


Pre-suasion by Cialdini

By Robert Cialdini

‘Pre-Suasion’ (2016) is about the art of influencing. In particular, it reveals that influence is about more than the specific wording of a pitch; it’s about how the pre-suader plays on our emotions, making his product or agenda seem more critical than it is. A pre-suader – be it your mom or your teacher, an advertiser or a sales agent, the media or even cult recruiters – know how to set the stage and get the desired result.


Hooked by Eyal

By Nir Eyal

Hooked (2014) explains, through anecdotes and scientific studies, how and why we integrate certain products into our daily routines, and why such products are the Holy Grail for any consumer-oriented company. Hooked gives concrete advice on how companies can make their products habit-forming, while simultaneously exploring the moral issues that entail.


Brainfluence by Dooley

By Roger Dooley

Brainfluence (2012) explores the unconscious thoughts and motivations that influence our decision-making process and offers tips and tricks on how savvy marketers can exploit them. By understanding the mechanisms that cause us to buy (or not buy), you can increase your sales while keeping your customers happier.


Neuromarketing by Renvoise and Morin

By Patrick Renvoisé & Christophe Morin

By drawing from brain research and innovative marketing techniques, Neuromarketing (2002) offers insights into how we make buying decisions. Understanding the brain’s ancient decision-making processes will equip you with the tools necessary to close deals and motivate people.

The Art of Thinking Clearly

The art of thinking clearly by Dobelli

By Rolf Dobelli

The Art Of Thinking Clearly aims to illuminate our day-to-day thinking “hiccups” so that we can better avoid them and start making improved choices. Using both psychological studies and everyday examples, the author provides us with an entertaining collection of all of our most common fallacies.


Switch by Heath and Heath

By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Switch examines why it is often difficult for people to switch their behaviour, and how, by understanding the mind, it is possible to find shortcuts that make change easier. Through scientific studies and anecdotes, Switch provides simple yet effective tools for implementing changes.

Made to Stick

Made to stick by Heath and Heath

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick explains why some ideas become popular, while others wither and die. The book lays out essential characteristics of “stickiness”; that is, what makes ideas “stick” in the mind, and how to make them work for you.


Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein

By Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein

The message of Nudge is to show us how we can be encouraged, with just a slight push or two, to make better decisions. The book starts by explaining the reasons for the wrong choices we make in everyday life.

Predictably Irrational

Predictably irrational by Ariely

By Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational (2010) explains the fundamentally irrational ways we behave every day. Why do we decide to diet and then give it up as soon as we see a tasty dessert? If you tried to pay your mother for a Sunday meal she lovingly prepared would she be offended? What’s the reason pain medication is more effective when the patient thinks it is more expensive? The reasons and remedies for these and other irrationalities are explored and explained with studies and anecdotes.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and slow by Kahneman

By Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) – a recapitulation of the decades of research that led to his winning the Nobel Prize – explains his contributions to our current understanding of psychology and behavioural economics. Over the years, Kahneman and his colleagues, whose work the book discusses at length, have significantly contributed to a new understanding of the human mind. We now have a better understanding of how decisions are made, why specific judgment errors are so prevalent and how we can improve ourselves.

Unconscious Branding

Unconscious Branding by van Praet

By Douglas Van Praet

Unconscious Branding (2012) reveals how marketers can tap into our subconscious, encouraging our participation in and support of company brands. In just seven steps, you’ll discover new strategies to guide your own company toward developing a brand with which customers can build a genuine relationship.


Buyology by Lindstrom

By Martin Lindstrom

Day in and day out we’re bombarded by thousands of brand images, logos and commercials enticing us to buy their products. However, only some ads motivate us to whip out our wallets. Why? Using cutting-edge neuromarketing methods, Buyology answers that question and explores the hidden motivations behind our purchasing decisions.

Neuromarketing for dummies

Neuromarketing for dummies by Genco and Pohlmann and Steidl

By Stephen J. Genco, Andrew P. Pohlmann & Peter Steidl

Neuromarketing is a controversial new field where researchers study consumers’ brain responses to advertising and media. It provides new ways to look at the age-old question: why do consumers buy? This book goes beyond the hype to explain the latest findings in this growing and often misunderstood field and shows business owners and marketers how neuromarketing works and how they can use it to their advantage. You’ll get a firm grasp on neuromarketing theory and how it is impacting research in advertising, in-store and online shopping, product and package design, and much more.

Webs of Influence

Webs of Influence by Nahai

By Nathalie Nahai

As legions of businesses scramble to set up virtual-shop, we face an unprecedented level of competition to win over and keep new customers online. At the forefront of this battleground is your ability to connect with your customers, nurture your relationships and understand the psychology behind what makes them click. In this book The Web Psychologist, Nathalie Nahai, expertly draws from the worlds of psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics to bring you the latest developments, cutting-edge techniques and fascinating insights that will lead to online success. Webs of Influence delivers the tools you need to develop a compelling, influential and profitable online strategy which will catapult your business to the next level – with dazzling results.

The hidden brain

The hidden brain by Vedantam

By Shankar Vedantam

Remember that voice in your ear when you make the most critical decisions in your lives—but you’re never aware of? That’s the hidden brain. It decides whom we fall in love with and whom we hate, tells us to vote for the white candidate and convict the dark-skinned defendant, to hire the thin woman but pay her less than the man doing the same job. Our brain can direct us to safety when disaster strikes and move us to extraordinary acts of altruism. But it can also be manipulated to turn an ordinary person into a suicide terrorist or a group of bystanders into a mob. In a series of compulsively readable narratives, Shankar Vedantam journeys through the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioural science to uncover the darkest corner of our minds and its decisive impact on the choices we make as individuals and as a society. Filled with fascinating characters, dramatic storytelling, and cutting-edge science, this is a gripping exploration of the secrets our brains keep from us—and how they are revealed.

Consciousness Explained

Consciousness explained by Dennett

By Daniel C. Dennett

Consciousness Explained is a full-scale exploration of human consciousness. In this landmark book, Daniel Dennett refutes the traditional, commonsense theory of consciousness and presents a new model, based on a wealth of information from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence. Our current theories about conscious life-of people, animal, even robots–are transformed by the new perspectives found in this book.


Decoded by Barden

By Phil P. Barden

In this groundbreaking book, Phil Barden reveals what decision science explains about people’s purchase behaviour, and demonstrates its value to marketing explicitly. He shares the latest research on the motivations behind consumers’ choices and what happens in the human brain as buyers make their decisions. Phil deciphers the ‘secret codes’ of products, services and brands to explain why people buy them. And finally, he shows how to apply this knowledge in day to day marketing to significant effect by dramatically improving key factors such as relevance, differentiation and credibility.

Neuro Design

Neuro Design by Bridger

By Darren Bridger

Today, businesses of all sizes generate a great deal of creative graphic media and content, including websites, presentations, videos and social media posts. Most big companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Tesco and Google, now use neuroscience research and theories to optimise their digital content. Neuro Design opens up this new world of neuromarketing design theories and recommendations and describes insights from the growing field of neuroaesthetics that will enable readers to enhance customer engagement with their website and boost profitability. Online resources include web links to inspiring reading and further website resources.

The Buying Brain

The Buying Brain by Pradeep

By A. K. Pradeep

The subconscious mind makes as much as 95% of our decisions. As a result, the world’s largest and most sophisticated companies are applying for the latest advances in neuroscience to create brands, products, package designs, marketing campaigns, store environments, and much more, that are designed to appeal directly and powerfully to our brains. The Buying Brain offers an in-depth exploration of how cutting-edge neuroscience is having an impact on how we make, buy, sell, and enjoy everything, and also probes more profound questions on how this new knowledge can enhance customers’ lives.

Bonus: How emotions are made

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD

By Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD

How Emotions Are Made (2017) challenges everything you think you know about emotions. From learning how our brain registers anger, fear and joy to how we think about these emotions culturally, you’ll come away with a new understanding of the ways in which emotions are created and how their scope is determined by society at large.

Priming: an invisible power tool for online marketing

Subconsciousness. You’ve without doubt seen this word pass by a few times in our blog. That is not a coincidence. Why? The subconscious brain plays a huge role in our daily life and neuromarketing. From the moment we learn to walk, start driving our first car or develop a hobby. At some point, we own these skills naturally and without thinking. A little brother of subconsciousness is priming, a phenomenon related to learning and our memory. Priming enables us to recognise information that we have been exposed to subconsciously. That means that exposure to one stimulus influences a response to another stimulus. For psychologists, priming is a Valhalla for research. It’s mysterious, complex, and impacts a significant part of our behaviour. In this blog, we will describe the basics of priming and how you can use it for online marketing.
Priming and pasta
Thinking about Italy makes you crave a plate of pasta

A pile of associations

When we mentioned that priming plays a massive role in our everyday lives, we were not exaggerating. Imagine that your friend returned from a trip to Italy and told you all about it. During the chat, it’s not unusual to find yourself craving a plate of pasta. Waiting for your doctor’s appointment in a room painted in a calming tone of blue? That will make you more relaxed when seeing the doc. Even after reading this article, you might recognise prime numbers faster. How do psychologists explain this? Human memory is pretty amazing. We are not only able to memorise words. Also, things like feelings, smells and sounds are present in our mind. Like thinking, we have both conscious and nonconscious memory. The latter is called implicit memory and plays a significant role in—surprise—priming. Our implicit memory is programmed in such a way that it links and associates everything we store in it. If your friend is talking about posing next to the Tower of Pisa, your memory activates associations. Words like the sun, ancient buildings and—drumroll— the pasta will show up. This automatic activation of related words and thoughts results in priming. Without us noticing, it affects our behaviour or reactions to other stimuli.

Different types of priming

There are different types of priming. We will mention three types here to give you an impression of its complexity:
  • Conceptual priming: the meaning of the stimulus activates associated memories in semantic tasks. Reading the word banana results in faster recognition of the word mango compared to chair. That happens because they belong to the same category (fruit).
    Priming and kindness
    An act of kindness activates positive associations in our memory
  • Positive priming: being exposed to certain stimuli makes a particular response to second stimuli more likely to happen. Remember that we talked about smelling bread in the bakery leads to a higher chance of buying it? Yes, this is a perfect example of positive priming.
  • Kindness priming: when being exposed to an act of kindness, you will notice more of the positive features of your environment. If you receive a free Ice Tea from a promoter on the street, you will experience everything more positive. That happens because kindness activates related positive words and thoughts in our memory.
As you can see, there are different types of priming, but sometimes they overlap each other. The main idea for all kinds of priming is the same: one particular event or stimuli subconsciously influences another.


Persuasion guru Robert Cialdini wrote a book about influencing, priming and communication. His book Pre-suasion explains how you can guide someone’s attention to get their agreement with a message before they experience it. Cialdini writes that numbers, background information or words can influence how someone reacts to a message. These are a few examples out of the pre-suasion communication list. You can also apply this knowledge to online marketing. Are you interested in how you can improve your online communication with priming? Have a look at Cialdini’s tools.

Priming consumers

It will not be a surprise that a lot of commercial companies use priming for marketing. An effect can already be reached with the smallest detail. You can use colour, your brand logo and typology to achieve this effect. Because everyone is a consumer at some point (yes, you included!), we all are primed when buying a product. For example, McDonalds’ big yellow M is without a doubt present in the memory of most people. When we see it shining somewhere, our brain activates associations. A tasty burger, coke or ice-cream will pop up. For some of us, McDonald’s wins and we start driving towards it to get stuffed. Besides unhealthy behaviour, priming can also result in more healthy decisions. A green food package is associated with healthy and natural food. Health freaks will buy it more often. Do you own a liquor store and do you want to increase the sales of French wine? Play some French music in the background! Research shows music can prime people. For example, restaurants can influence how fast their guests eat their meals. More upbeat music causes us to eat our dinner faster.
Red Bull and priming
Red Bull literally gives us wings!

Red Bull gives you wings?

We will further show the power of priming and a brand logo with a fun research project on Red Bull. Researchers aimed to influence the driving style during a computer game. They did this by creating two different types of cars. One group of vehicules showed the Red Bull logo, the other the logo from Guinness or Tropicana. They found that when people drove the Red Bull car, they indeed got wings. They drove fast, powerful and aggressive compared to the people in the other vehicules. People also took more risks and were unaware of their driving style in the Red Bull car. That shows that Red Bull’s brand priming is a mighty one. People are subconsciously changing their behaviour towards their brand image. So be warned: don’t put their logo on your car if you don’t want to be in a crash!

Boost your online marketing

Now that you know how other companies use priming, it’s time to put it into practice yourself. As mentioned before, there are different types of priming. If you are creative enough, the use of priming for your marketing strategy can be endless. Even the smallest detail can affect. If you own a webshop, visual priming will be your most prominent point of focus. We will give you some examples and tools on how to do this:
  • Use associative priming as a conversion booster for your webshop. You can prime your visitors using visuals that make them feel more comfortable, confident or luxurious. Example: the online basket of H&M’s webshop does not look like a basket, but a real-life shopping bag. This small detail increases the positive association with shopping, leading to more online sales.
  • If you add pictures, use positive priming and show happiness. Because smiling people will prime the visitor with other positive associations, this can increase your sales. Have a look at the next two pictures. Which one do you think will boost the sales of a hat webshop?
Positive priming can boost your online marketing Negative priming can hurt your online marketing
  • Look out for negative priming: you can subconsciously prime someone in a positive direction, but the opposite is also possible. So, negative words or images will activate related associations in your customer’s memory. Example: offer them the possibility to sign up for a newsletter and promise that you will not send any spam. The word spam will activate negative memories and associations, with the chance of no sign up at all.

Choose wisely

When you think about it, almost every aspect of your webshop or website is related to priming. It can boost your online marketing! Specific words, colours and images will influence your visitors. That might sound a little bit overwhelming, and you can’t decide what’s best for your shop in just a day. It will take a lot of time and effort. Choose wisely and keep your brand in mind! As a result, you will optimise your content to the fullest. Do you need any help? Contact us so we can help. Combining psychological knowledge with marketing gives you the best results!

The difference between wanting and liking

Imagine being at your friend’s birthday party. You have a drink, a chat, and then you notice this amazing looking buffet. You want to fill up your plate with all the delicious treats. However, your personal trainer who drags you into the gym every day is looking over your shoulder. Thinking about him and all the effort you made to be healthy makes you like the buffet less and less. This is an example of a conflict between two different motivation systems in your brain: wanting and liking.

Wanting it, but not liking it

The major difference between wanting and liking has to do with how our mind operates: conscious or unconscious. Liking is a conscious state of the brain, meaning that you are aware of external stimuli or processes within yourself. Wanting is an unconscious state, meaning that processes in the brain occur automatically and without you noticing. Unconsciousness is also the place where most of the work in our mind gets done: automatic skills, information processing, intuition and dreaming are all examples of unconsciousness events. Some neuroscientists even believe that 95% of our cognitive activities happen in the unconscious mind! Let’s go back to the buffet. If you want to fill up your plate with the inviting food, you’re probably hungry and your stomach is telling you to do so. This is your first reaction after seeing the table with food. In our dopamine article, we told you about the motivation to look for food. It’s a natural reaction that happens automatically and unconsciously. This means that our wanting system can be influenced without us noticing.
Liking and wanting at a buffet
Wanting versus liking when seeing a delicious buffet
How often do you walk in a supermarket and smell all the delicious, fresh baked bread? This is not a coincidence, the supermarket uses the smell of bread to unconsciously make you want to buy more. You can’t tell yourself to not like this smell. It just happens. What about liking? Standing in front of the buffet, you start to consciously think about it. How much will you take? Should I try the apple pie or the pumpkin soup? Or maybe both? The fact that you are (probably) on a diet makes you think twice about it. Eventually, you decide to stick with just the soup. You consciously made this decision.

A conflict in the sweets aisle

What on earth have this table full of food, and bread from the supermarket to do with your business? In a lot of cases, what you want is what you like. However, as shown above, in some cases this is not what you do. Consumer choice is an example where wanting and liking are often in conflict. We go back to the supermarket to further demonstrate this. Eye-tracking research – where researchers look at the eye movements of their participants – shows that there is a so-called approach-avoidance in the sweets aisle. Customers in a supermarket know what they want to buy, but still keep looking at other products too. In specific, this happens in the sweets aisle. Apparently, only 20% of our eye movements are related to what we actually buy, the other 80% we are just looking at our favourite candy. This again shows that our unconscious processes have the winning hand. For you as a marketer, this is something interesting to respond to. This is the moment when neuromarketing comes in to play.
Conflict in the candy aisle
Candy creates conflict: you want it, but don’t buy it

Get inside your consumer’s brain

To make your product as appealing as possible it is key to get insight into your consumer’s brain. The most common way to do this is by asking people about their experiences with your products. This is, of course, an informative source, but there is one major problem: it only gives access to the liking system of that individual. You should be more interested in the wanting system. And that is exactly the point where neuromarketing becomes interesting. Knowledge about how the brain works can make you understand the wanting system too. This is information that is not directly visible or logic, but despite can hold great value for your sales, popularity and brand. In this way, the whole concept of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience makes sense.

Pepsi or Coke?

We will demonstrate the importance of neuromarketing with a classic experiment. This was also the project that first put the brain related to marketing in the spotlight. Researchers gave their participants samples of both Pepsi and Coca-Cola and looked at their brain activity. When participants were ignorant of which brand they were drinking, they favoured the taste of Pepsi. Their corresponding brain activity was present in a reward centre (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex).
research on Pepsi versus Coca-Cola
Which one do you like: Pepsi or Coke?
Can you guess which system is linked to this part of the experiment? It’s the wanting system, participants unconsciously favour one flavour over another. However, when participants were aware of the brand, they favoured the taste of coke. The brain now showed activity in areas associated with memory, emotions and emotional information processing (hippocampus, midbrain and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Indeed, the liking system is now present, resulting in a conscious review from the participants. The researchers concluded that the preference for Coca-Cola is more influenced by brand image than by the taste itself. This is a perfect example of the consumer’s mind being in conflict! Apparently, we favour a soda differently if we are aware of what brand we’re drinking. The example above clearly shows why neuromarketing can be useful in your business. Are you also interested in your consumer’s brain? Read our Braintalk articles or contact us and we’ll help you have a look at it!