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The future of marketing

The Behavioral Future of Marketing

Our world has always been a dynamic place. Ever since the Homo Sapiens started to evolve quickly a ten thousands of years ago, we have been continuously learning and developing new skills. Our cognitive intelligence developed, and we’ve invented and discovered new things. Nowadays, we can walk on the moon, Google answers to almost every question, and we almost completely understand quantum mechanics. But the developments are not limited to complex physics or new inventions. Marketing and business growth strategies benefit from our brilliant brains as well.

New technologies and modern research methods brought new insights into the brain and behavior. Marketers have always pursued to explain, predict, and guide consumer behavior. Will this knowledge change the field of marketing as we know it? What can we expect in the future, and how should we deal with this? We’ll tell you.

Marketing research

Conventional marketing methods are primarily focused on consumer’s self-reported opinions and experiences. By conducting questionnaires and polls, we try to define the effectiveness of the advertisement and what customers think. We want to track down what makes customers buy.

CRO experts and marketers are always testing and optimizing their techniques. Based on A/B tests and the consumers’ ratings of the advertisements it is possible to specify what works best. These market research methods help you understand what you must do (the techniques) and how to apply these techniques in a framework. But it lacks the psychological knowledge behind the choices consumers make.

Do we really know what we think?

We think that we exactly know the reasons behind our purchases and decisions. It is convenient to assume that we are intelligent and rational thinkers. Are we continually weighing every pro and con against each other to find the best possible outcome? If we do so, how do we explain our worst decisions and our closets filled with useless purchases?

Indeed, it is hard to define why we make these terrible choices. We are weak at identifying the reasons behind our decisions: the bad ones, but the good ones as well. Therefore, conventional research methods fail individually. It is not useful to base marketing strategies on self-reported opinions. In the end, we are not aware of the factors that determine our choices.

If you want your customers to buy your product, you must understand how the decision-making process works. This process is divided into three levels; what, how, and why. We know what to do and how we must apply that. But we don’t exactly know why we do what we do. And this is where neuromarketing comes in.

The mysterious brain of your customer

Neuromarketing implements neuropsychological insights into consumer psychology to increase the effectiveness of existing marketing strategies. Research methods, such as fMRI, EEG, ECG, and eye tracking give us a look inside the brain. We’ve discovered and revealed patterns of activation in different brain areas that are linked to specific stimuli.

These techniques are an incredible help to diagnose neuropsychological disorders. But they also provide valuable insights into a healthy and functioning brain. This look inside the brain enables us to define what happens in our brain when we see an advertisement or watch a commercial. For example, we know that we scan our environment from left to right and we found out that the color red immediately attracts our attention.

The key to survival: information processing

These new insights uncover the processing of information from the environment. Information processing has become a hot topic in cognitive neuropsychology. It is essential to understand how information enters our brain, how we process this information, and how it influences behavior. To comprehend a good understanding of the consumer’s Brain and Behavior, we refer to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman. He distinguishes two decision-making systems; System 1 and System 2.

System 1 and System 2

Kahneman describes System 1 as the fast, intuitive, and subconscious system. We know System 2 as the slow-processing system. It is controlled, rational, and conscious. The two systems differ in the way they operate in decision-making strategies. That is to blame on the difference in processing speed of System 1 and 2. Where System 2 processes with a rate of 40 bit per second, System 1 has a processing speed of 11,000,000 bit per second. As a result, System 1 will almost always override System 2 in the decision-making process.

The subconscious buying brain

System 1 makes an estimated 95% of our decisions. That means that our subconscious mind initiates nearly all our decisions and behavior. Most marketing campaigns and advertisements are designed to influence the rational mind consciously (yes, System 2). Nonetheless, rational decision making is the exception rather than the rule. The ‘buying brain’ is a subconscious mechanism, driven by emotions and snap judgements.

Be different

Have you spent a lot of time speculating why one technique worked well, and the other didn’t? Or why a framework applies perfectly to your context but had adverse outcomes when your colleagues used it? These questions may sound familiar. You wont find an answer to these questions through endlessly A/B testing. But, an understanding of the consumer’s brain and behavioral psychology will.

“Marketing is Mass Psychology”, said Seth Godin once. The knowledge of psychology behind human behavior distinguishes many of the best CRO experts and marketers from others.

Marketing vs Neuromarketing

To make your customer buy you should play the factors that affect the subconscious buying brain and decision-making process. Practical changes in behavior must be backed up with a change in the consumers’ subconscious attitude towards the subject (System 1). Therefore it is important to understand why your consumers make a decision. Why do they choose to buy your product, and not your competitor’s?

The smallest nuances could have a significant influence on the outcomes. To understand the details and nuances, you have to know why your techniques work. Knowing the psychological process behind the methods will help you understand the techniques better and enables you to define the correct application of your marketing initiative. But not only marketers will notice the value of neuromarketing. Everybody who needs the persuade others, either to buy, click, or act, will benefit from learning neuromarketing.

Create the desire

We can tell you in advance; making rational suggestions to buy your product is not an effective marketing strategy. You won’t increase your sales when you tell consumers that your product is better, or that it has more benefits in the long and distant future. You must evoke emotional affect and an internal desire in your consumer’s mind. You want your consumer to buy now, and not 2 days later! You want to evoke the feeling that their life will be less enjoyable without your product. But why and how to achieve this?

Let’s get emotional

It is essential that your marketing campaign evokes positive emotions and happy associations. People directly act upon their emotions. Remember how we have explained System 1 and System 2?

Emotions are important influencers in the decision-making processes of System 1. Whether you are happy, sad, angry, or in love, your emotions play an important role in your behavior. We have written a deep-dive into everything you need to know about emotions, and how to use emotions in your marketing.

The little missteps of the brain

These neuropsychological insights in consumer behavior are a big help to improve your marketing campaign. From time to time we make a buying decision deliberately. But in most situations we don’t. Therefore it is essential to understand the consumer’s brain.

Our brain does not want to spent too many energy on every decision we make. We want to find patterns and predictabilities to be faster and more effective. Only a small part of all available information is used to make the decision. Our brain makes an educated guess about the best possible outcome in the situation.

Cognitive Biases

This educated guess not always result in the best answer. Our brain decides not to include relevant information in the decision, or the real situation deviates from the predicted outcome. The simplification of information leads to little missteps of the brain. We call these Cognitive Biases. Neuromarketing uses these missteps of the brain in advantage of the marketing strategy. These biases explain our behavior, and so we can find a way to guide the decisions we make.

What does this mean for the future?

In our ever-changing world, developing research, and dynamic social environments, marketers, cannot stand still. There is a need to develop and evolve and keep up with your customer’s and the world. Do you still want to be relevant in the marketing business in a few years? It is valuable for every marketer to adopt neuropsychological insights.

Leading firms already include the neuroscientific perspectives into their marketing strategies. Well-known companies like, IKEA, and Coca-Cola already adjusted their strategies with the latest insights and principles neuroscience has to offer. An understanding of cognitive biases and the effects on the behavior of individuals and groups, help you to anticipate the responses of your customers. Providing the ‘why’ behind our behavior, behavioral psychology and neuroscience in marketing is here to stay.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out our free online course on applying Brain & Behavior in Growth. We’ve poured our hearts into these 7+ hours of video lectures and hope it makes this knowledge accessible for professionals who are curious, not just the companies and teams we work with.

We also recommend having a look at software that helps you collect customer insights. This will help you collect all the insights in one place and make it available for anyone in your organization who needs it.

If you want to learn more about behavioral insights, read our blog or watch 100+ videos on our YouTube channel!

About Neurofied

Neurofied is a behavioral science company specialized in training, consulting, and change management. We help organizations drive evidence-based and human-centric change with insights and interventions from behavioral psychology and neuroscience. Consider us your behavioral business partner who helps you build behavioral change capabilities internally.

Since 2018, we have trained thousands of professionals and worked with over 100 management, HR, growth, and innovation teams of organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Deloitte, Novo Nordisk, ABN AMRO, and the Dutch government. We are also frequent speakers at universities and conferences.

Our mission is to democratize the value of behavioral science for teams and organizations. If you see any opportunities to collaborate, please contact us here.


Evi Rozendal

Combines the art of storytelling with the science of cognitive & neuropsychology