Digital Marketing

9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies

By David Tomas, on 22 April 2020

Neuromarketing is a growing field with a lot of interesting potential. And we can see this with all of the new studies that have come out recently.

At Cyberclick, we like to keep track of the studies that are published in order to get a scientific view of topics that are important to marketers. Neuromarketing can teach us important marketing insights, like the influence of advertising on decision processes, the importance of price when making a purchase, or the factors that impact consumer behavior. Neuromarketing examples are all around us, and easy to find if we take the time to look for them.

Therefore, in this article I’ll share 10 neuromarketing studies and how you can apply their conclusions to your next marketing campaign. Let’s dive in!

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9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies


Neuromarketing Definition 

Neuromarketing applies neuroscience to the marketing field. Its aim is to discover how consumers brain’s work and how we can use that insight to promote brands, both at the promotional and product design level. 

Neuromarketing adds a scientific dimension to marketing and advertising. It is based on conducting laboratory experiments using the scientific method to gain knowledge about the relationship between the brain and buyer decisions. 


10 Examples of Neuromarketing

  1. Ad Design Isn’t The Most Indicator Aspect Of Its Success

As marketers, we often wonder how we can most effectively use our budget. Francisco Muñoz-Leiva, Janet Hernández-Méndez and Diego Gómez-Carmonac set out to solve this question with a neuromarketing study that measured the effectiveness of advertising in the tourism sector through eye tracking technology.

The study compared the visibility and recall of advertising banners on three different sites: a hotel blog, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. Metrics of eye movement and promotional recall were used among the participants.

The result was that the Facebook banner generated the most attention and recall among the participants. Although the banner was in the same position in all cases, the Facebook ad attracted participants' attention more frequently and for longer periods of time. According to the study managers, the complexity of the website design may influence viewing patterns. In the case of the study, Facebook had less content on the page than TripAdvisor or the blogs.

This shows us that website design also plays an important role in the effectiveness of your ad, not just the design on the ad itself.

However, it is also important to note that in all three cases the visibility and recall of the ad was low, suggesting that display advertising may not be the most effective way to promote brands.


2. Different Payment Methods Generate Different Emotions

Luis-Alberto Casado-Aranda, Francisco Liébana-Cabanillas and Juan Sánchez-Fernández set out to find out how the payment methods available on a website influence the trust of potential buyers, a fundamental issue for brands with ecommerce.

The study focused on two main payment methods: PayPal and credit cards. All 30 participants made simple online purchases and their responses were measured by MRI.

Analysis of the results showed that electronic payments perceived as unsafe activated brain areas connected with negative emotions, while payments perceived as safe activated the areas related to the prediction of rewards.

The conclusion of this study found that consumers show perceived PayPal as a safer, more rewarding and more effective payment method. In contrast, credit cards activated areas associated with negative and dangerous events. 


3. Users Can Tell How Much Time A Website Design Took

We’ve always known that first impressions are important. And now, thanks to Gustav Bergman and Felix Noren's neuromarketing study, we understand why.

These researchers created various web pages using different combinations of colors, backgrounds, trust stamps, and contact information, and showed them to the participants for 7 seconds. Participants had to answer "yes" or "no" to the question "Do you think this online store is trustworthy?"

9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies

In addition to recording responses, they also took into account the time it took users to respond to different versions of the page (31 total). Its main conclusions were as follows:

  • There is no relationship between the time it takes to respond to a page and the level of trust it generates.
  • The factor that most influenced the trust of the participants was the amount of time spent in designing the website. The more effort they put into creating a nice design, the more confidence the page generated. Therefore, the learning of neuromarketing for marketers is that it is worth investing in quality design.


4. Our Brains Know More Than We Do

One of the most cited studies in the field of neuromarketing shows how to use neuroscience to design more effective public service announcements.

Emily Falk, the study's author, wanted to find out to what extent the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in the brain was able to predict call volume in response to anti-smoking campaigns from the National Cancer Institute in the United States.

The study tested three television ad campaigns that advertised a special phone line for people who wanted to quit tobacco. Brain response to ads, participants' perception of their activity, and the number of actual calls they had generated were recorded.

The result was that there was no relationship between the perceived effectiveness of the ads and their actual result, but brain activity was related to the number of calls received by the ads. That is, our brain activity better predicts the effectiveness of advertising than our own perceptions.


5. Package Design Impacts Consumer Purchase Decisions 

Chips Ahoy conducted a study on its packaging and realized that it had a problem: consumers declared that it was difficult to read due to the colors used and the image was neutral or boring.

To solve this, they organized a study that included eye tracking techniques to identify how consumers reacted to different designs. Based on the results, they implemented several key changes to their packaging: Cookies are now sold in a tube that can be resealed, text and colors have improved, and the cookie's image is more fun and engaging.

9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies

6. Inspiration Varies for Different Audiences

In recent years, superheros and superheroines have gained more popularity. For this reason, the BBC (creators of the new Doctor Who) partnered with iMotions, Screen Engine / ASI and the Women's Media Center to study the perception of superheroines among adolescents of both genders. The objective was to find out how the representation of superheroes and superheroines influenced adolescents' self-esteem and self-confidence.

The researchers tested several trailers of television shows starring characters of both genders. These shows included The Flash, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Luke Cage. Participants visualized the trailers while researchers measured their physical reactions, facial expressions, and visual attention (using eye-tracking techniques).

The study found that adolescent girls respond much better to depictions of superheroines acting the same as their male counterparts. Additionally, when female protagonists were sexualized, girls stopped paying attention.

This gives insight on how to treat characters in stories and advertising to generate a positive reaction among the target we want to reach.


7. Audio vs Visual

Intuitively, many of us tend to think that video has a stronger emotional impact and efficacy when it comes to storytelling. On the other hand, the current podcast boom indicates that audio content is also widely welcomed. Well, a recent neuromarketing study from University College London has compared the emotional impact of the two to solve the debate once and for all. 

The researchers looked for equivalent video and audiobook scenes from different book/movie combinations, such as Game of Thrones and The Silence of the Lambs. They selected scenes with great emotional impact and in which the video and audio versions were almost identical.

The conclusion showed that users' perception and their actual physical responses were not aligned. On average, the participants stated that they found the video 15% more interesting. But when they listened to the audiobook version, their pulse rate was faster and their body temperature and skin conductivity rose.

9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies

The explanation proposed by the researchers is that listening to a story is a shared creation process, in which the user is more actively involved and therefore generates a greater emotional response and involvement.


8. The Brain Can Predict Sales

Researchers Simone Kuhn, Enrique Strelow and Jurgen Gallinat conducted a very interesting neuromarketing study, in which they compared different ways of predicting product sales with actual results.

The study was carried out with a sample of 18 habitual chocolate consumers, who were shown a product image and 6 related advertisements, including a control image. Their reactions before, during, and after viewing each image were measured by an MRI. Next, they were asked to sort the images according to their preferences.

Based on all this data, the researchers created 3 sales predictions: one based on participants' stated preferences, one based on brain activity while looking at ads, and one based on their brain reactions when viewing the product before and after seeing ads.

9 Neuromarketing Examples and Studies

The product was then displayed alongside ads in different supermarkets for a week, to compare actual sales and predictions. The most successful was the one based on brain activity when viewing the ads, and the one that failed the most was the one based on the participants' responses. Once again, this shows that neuromarketing outperforms traditional market research in making sales predictions.


9.  Product Framing Influences Perceptions

Finally, let’s examine a study about one of the most useful cognitive biases for marketers: the framing or presentation of a product.

Jia Jina, Wuke Zhangc, and Mingliang Chen investigated how framing influenced consumer care and decision-making around a product. To do this, they measured the reactions to descriptions of wool coats presented in two different ways: with a positive framing (showing the percentage of wool in the product) and with a negative framing (showing the percentage of synthetic fibers).

The study divided the users' reactions into two different moments: the level of initial care and the final decision-making. The result was that product presentations with negative framing generated more attention at first, but made decision-making more difficult. In addition, positive framing improved perceptions of product quality.

Although these conclusions are not too surprising, it is interesting to verify the real effects of this type of marketing techniques in a scientific way.

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David Tomas

CEO y cofundador de Cyberclick. Cuenta con más de 20 años de experiencia en el mundo online. Es ingeniero y cursó un programa de Entrepreneurship en MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. En 2012 fue nombrado uno de los 20 emprendedores más influyentes en España, menores de 40 años, según la Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 e IESE. Autor de "La empresa más feliz del mundo" y "Diario de un Millennial". ______________________________________________________________________ CEO and co-founder of Cyberclick. David Tomas has more than 20 years of experience in the online world. He is an engineer and completed an Entrepreneurship program at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2012 he was named one of the 20 most influential entrepreneurs in Spain, under the age of 40, according to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 and IESE. Author of "The Happiest Company in the World" and "Diary of a Millennial".