MIMA Recap: Advances in Consumer Psychology

brainfluenceThis morning I had the pleasure of attending the MIMA March Event: Advances in Consumer Psychology: Neuromarketing, Consumer Behavior and Web Persuasion from speaker Roger Dooley. In his presentation, Roger shared many insights from his book, Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing. While he initially spoke about [insert fancy neuro-heat mapping name here] and EG’s that track neurological activities to determine engagements with different advertisements; the majority of the presentation was geared toward the 99% of advertisers who don’t have the resources for these types of tests. Through a variety of studies, Roger summarized how we can test consumer behavior research findings to our own digital marketing efforts to (hopefully) improve our results.


Here are some of the studies, results and potential applications (also known as neuro nudges) that he shared:

petsmart1• Create a “liking” effect with your audience. The example that Roger used was asking the audience who had dogs. After a number of people raised their hands, he showed us pictures of his adorable four legged animal, Conan. This was when he got me to like him. I knew that Roger was smart and was going to share some cool insights at MIMA today, but I didn’t know that I was going to leave there with any opinion of his personality or whether or not I liked him; but I did. He created a sense of commonality between me, “the customer”,  and himself, “the advertiser”. This is something advertisers can easily do with their customers if they have a good understanding of who their customer is. Take a look at PetSmart’s executive’s portraits. If you were an animal lover who had no understanding of PetSmart as a corporation, these pictures might influence you to hold a more favorable view of the company.

2 buck chuck

• Create high expectations for your product. In two different studies using only Trader Joe’s “2 Buck Chuck” wine, the information the participants were told about the wine prior to tasting it affected their opinion of the wine. In the first test, Group A was told that the wine came from a well-known vineyard in California. Group B was told that the wine came from North Dakota. Results showed that Group A drank more wine, ate more food and spent more money than Group B. In the second test, Group A was told that they would be drinking $5 wine and Group B was told they would be drinking $45 wine. Not only did Group B say that the wine tasted better, but their neurological activity after drinking the wine was significantly more active. Creating a high-brand perception is important in getting your audience to believe in your product.

 • SOCIALIZE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE. I apologize for the all caps on this point, but I needed to grab your attention as this case is the most pertinent to our industry at this time. In this experiment, Roger gave $10 to an audience member named John. John was told that he could keep the $10 for himself or he could share it with a fellow audience member, Ward, who he did not know but was introduced to in front of the audience. If Ward did not accept John’s offer, Roger would take back the $10 from John. In this type of situation, Roger shared with us that 50% of the time there is a fair trade made between the parties ($5 for John, $5 for Ward). 33% of the time there is an unfair trade made ($9 for John, $1 for Ward). These percentages vary as soon as you incorporate socialization. In our instance, John and Ward were introduced and a fair trade was made. When socialization occurs between both parties, the fair trade deals increase to 83%. In business, we need to socialize with our customer. As soon as you humanize your brand, users will feel more connected to your brand and more likely to make a purchase. 

• Personalize your creative to match the user. The Doppelganger effect of someone seeing himself or herself associated with a brand will automatically give them a preference to that brand. For example, a 

linkedin adLinkedIn ad of a job opening like the one below would be more appealing to a user than a generic “we have a job opening” ad. Other sites use Facebook to sync your profile information into the content of the site. As an opt-in option, this will not be perceived as too creepy by the user and will give your site a personal touch. 

• Convey scarcity to influence decision time. In this instance, Roger cited a study on how appealing cookies were to people whether or not there were two cookies left or if there were ten cookies left. In the cookie jar with only two cookies, people were more attracted to the cookies than the jar with ten cookies. This is because of two reasons. One, the limited number of cookies indicates that other people of have been taking the cookies which would make them more appealing. In a business sense, if you are Amazon and you want to make your item seem like it is in high demand, you might communicate that there is only one item left in stock. The second way to approach scarcity, if there isn’t a natural scarcity, is through a limited time offer. Many people act on their fear of loss. If they feel like they will miss out on a good deal if they don’t act now, they will be more likely to act. As marketers, we can use this fear of loss in our messaging by using terms like “Last Chance to Save!” over “Get Great Savings Now!”. 

• Simple messaging expresses simplicity in action. In this study, Roger shows two lines of text in two different fonts and measures the amount of time the user thinks it will take to complete the task in the test.                              


The average time that Group 1 thinks it will take to perform the exercise is 8 minutes. The average time that Group 2 thinks it will take to perform the exercise is fifteen minutes. If we apply this study to our own practices, we will see that simple messages and design will most often have higher conversion rates than over-designed images and messaging.

Roger finishes his presentation by reminding us that though communication and media are rapidly changing in our culture, the brain has remained the same for the last 50,000 years. He tells us that the more we understand our customer’s brains and how they’re wired, the better we will be able to market to them and achieve success. 




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