Next Big Thing

Economics of Emotions Dec 7, 2016

Your brain makes decisions approximately 10 seconds before you even realize it. For several decades, this fact has gotten a lot of attention from marketers who are working hard to understand the neurological aspects of behavior to learn how the decision making mechanism works. As a result, most product promotion strategies are now based on neuroscience, known as neuromarketing.

People think that their decisions are conscious. According to experiments conducted by John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, your brain is ahead your consciousness. By scanning the brains of people performing simple decision making exercises, scientists found that regions of the brain involved in making choices activate before people are consciously aware they have made a choice. How did he prove that our decision making is subconscious and irrational?

According to the experiment, described in Nature neuroscience magazine, subjects watched a screen that flashed a random sequence of letters at half-second intervals. Subjects are able to press a button with either their left or right hand to make their selection. They were asked to identify which letter they were looking at, then decide to push the appropriate button.

Throughout the process, scientists were recording the brain activity of the subjects, the regions involved in decision making became active up to 10 seconds before the subject consciously decided to press the button. They also found that the motor cortexes became active 5 seconds before the subject consciously decided to press the button.  So people act first, and think later.

The signal of the decision comes from cortex and acts like an electric impulse. So-called live electricity is involved in this action. There are a lot of animals that produce electricity. For example electric rays can generate electric shocks. The oriental hornet gets electricity when it absorbs sunlight from the sun and converts it into energy. Sharks have receptors that detect the electric fields of their potential meals. Electric fish paralyze their catch using an electric jolt up to 350 volts. People also use electronic signals to control their body and brains which includes the decision making process.

There are some devices designed to stimulate brain function using electrical impulses. For example, designers of Athletic headphones claim that their equipment improves the athlete’s learning process while training. Special spikes connect with the head and send electrical impulse into the wearer’s brain. The device stimulates the motor cortex with electrical impulse improving the working capacity of the brain and its ability to learn.

The truth is that no one can make clients wear headphones to improve sales performance. It is necessary to find a way to produce that stimulus at the distance. Neuroscience uses emotional content – feelings and emotions that energize the brain. This emotional power presses the “Buy now” button.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising conducted research, using the IPA databank that contains 1400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns over the last three decades.  The research was based on the profit boost of campaigns which relied primarily on emotional appeal vs. those which used rational persuasion and information. Campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those using rational content alone. Those that were purely emotional did better (31% vs 26%) those that mixed emotional and rational content.

Brands actively use the best practice of neuromarketing. Christmas stories 2017 of famous brands call out to emotions.  For example, John Lewis, a chain of British upmarket department stores dazzles its customers with emotional Christmas movies every year. This year, customers can enjoy a magical story about a gift for a little girl, Bridget, who loves to jump on a trampoline. On Christmas night her dad sets up a trampoline in the yard to surprise his daughter in the morning. Through the night, the local forest animals take the opportunity to enjoy the trampoline, while the family’s dog, Buster, watches longingly from the window. In the morning, he finally gets to enjoy the present as well.

Sweden-based clothing brand H&M shares another story “Come together” about a train conductor who saves the Christmas spirit when the passengers can’t get home in time when the train is delayed. All the passengers are touched by this thoughtful conductors give for them.

British retailer M&S tells a touching Christmas story about a boy, James, who quarreled with his big sister the whole year.  On Christmas Eve, he asks Mrs Claus to make a special gift for his sister. The story shows us how important family relationships are and how we can support each other while moving in the same direction.

The American retailer Lowe’s released a Christmas story about an unusual ginger bread with antlers. The other characters treat him like an “ugly duckling.” Through a series of adventures he becomes part of a family and we see how important it is that no one be alone, especially at Christmas.

It is a scientifically proven fact that brands that evoke emotions win. When people evaluate brands, they first check their emotions, which are connected with their personal experience and feelings. Noosphere Ventures is excited to learn about new technologies and trends in the field of neuromarketing. The connection between science and business is one of the core principles that move any sphere of peoples’ lives forward.  It is challenging and exciting to develop an ecosystem, where smart technologies and wise decisions meet.