The Amygdala makes us buy
Everybody wants to generate new leads and make more money, right? Well, there is a gland in our brain that is actually responsible for making us click “buy”. And this is not some kind of voodoo magic, in fact, this is absolutely scientific. I’m pretty sure that you want to know more. Right? Okay, keep on reading and welcome to the blog.
No time to read? Watch this video.
Let’s make a practical example with your body. That’s right. I’m going to make your body produce a liquid, no matter if you want it or not. Yep, I’m not joking. Are you ready? Watch the image below for 10 seconds and imagine squeezing that lemon with your teeth and the acidic juice filling your month.
By now, you should have noticed that your mouth is fuller with saliva, right? The empathic part of your brain associated the picture of squeezing the lemon with that acidic liquid going into your mouth and the limbic system reacted, producing saliva to counteract the effect of this acidic liquid. Like if this imaginary lemon juice was actually in your mouth.
So, if I can make you salivate, can I also make you do something else like a click “buy” or make you like my brand, my products?
This is called Neuromarketing, and it’s not new, it has been used for decades by multinationals. Today anybody can benefit from Neuromarketing to boost sales. This really works, and you can apply it to boost sales. Before I show you some examples, I’ll show you scientifically how this works, and everything else is going to be very clear.
The power of the Amygdala
The amygdala is a gland, part of the limbic system, which is also called the reptilian brain( or “old brain”). It’s almost 500 million years old and this is the part of the brain that deals with the primordial instincts and subconscious. The amygdala contributes to functions such as emotions, fight-or-flight response, subconscious responses (like the lemon juice).
The amygdala also triggers the neocortex (the top part of the brain) that is responsible for everything that has to do with actions and sensory input.
The neocortex is also responsible for language. So in case of a sales pitch, it is the one that says “yes” influenced by the amygdala.
The Old Brain also triggers the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and even for the creation of new memories. So, for example, remembering a new brand.
And finally (interesting for us marketers), the amygdala is essential for the decision-making process, and this is very well demonstrated. A patient with a case of brain stroke had the limbic system damaged. After the stroke, that person couldn’t even make a simple decision like going to the supermarket and decide what kind of cereal he wanted to buy.
Without the limbic system, we can’t make decisions.
Example 1: music makes you buy wine
The Journal of Applied Psychology in April 1999 published a study of the effect of music on purchasing behavior in a wine store. Could French and German music affect the purchasing behavior of consumers in a wine store? Over two weeks, in a wine store, they have been playing French music for one day and then German music another day, alternating for two weeks.
What they discovered is that the days that the French music was playing, the French wine sale absolutely exploded compared to the German one.
And vice versa, when German music was playing German wine was outselling the French wine. On top of that, they’ve done a questionnaire to clients going out of the store, asking them if they thought that the music was influencing their decision, and 90% of them, said: “Absolutely not!. My decision is my decision, it has not been influenced by music.”
So you understand how powerful is the amygdala. The client’s amygdala has been influenced by the music and made the person purchase the wine: that is a subconscious influence. And it’s so powerful because it doesn’t make the conscious part aware that it has been influenced. In fact, clients were not even aware that they were affected. They thought that their decision was 100% rational. (Yeah, right!).
The key question for effective Neuromarketing
In Neuromarketing, we need to ask the question:
“How do we make our client feel, with the campaign that we are designing?”
If we can change the way that the person feels than we affect the amygdala, and the person will not even be aware that he’s coming closer to our brand.
Emotions trigger sales.
Skeptical? Okay, let’s see a practical example.
Example 2: The “New Coke”
In 1985 Coca-Cola was losing market share against Pepsi. Pepsi ran a blind test with random consumers, and they found out that, without knowing which product they were tasting, typically, they were choosing Pepsi over Cola-Cola.
So Coca-Cola came out with a new formula, an original recipe, and they call it the New Coke.
Coca-Cola blind-tested the new product with 20,000 people.
Result: people liked the new Coca-Cola formula better than the classic Coca-Cola. Thrilled by the results, The Coca-Cola Company prepared a great launch in the market and… It was a disaster. At the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, they received 8,000 calls per day from angry clients that wanted the product back. How can 20,000 people be wrong? What did the Coca Cola miss?
Coca-Cola and Neuromarketing
You see, Coca-Cola spent decades in advertisement based on “fillings” (affecting the amygdala). Most of the ads that Coca-Cola was doing was about how the product makes you feel.
Look at the picture: the association is not to “the great tasting beverage,” but it’s about the feeling of spending time with your loved one. Take this other one, for example.
Do you think that the potential client is looking at the blurred bottleneck here above? You can’t even see the product!
“Taste the feeling”. That’s a direct attack on the amygdala.
See with Santa, again, “feeling”, not “taste”.
The scientific proof
In 2004 they conducted a test analyzing which part of the brain was activated when tasting sodas, Pepsi against Coca-Cola. In the first test, they were blindfolded so they couldn’t see the product, and slightly over 50% chose Pepsi, but we knew that already from previous studies.
In the second test, they did show the testers what brand they were drinking. Each person could see if he/she was drinking Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
The results were very different: 75% of the tester chose Coca-Cola. Why? Because of the “feelings” advertisement that Coca-Cola runs and the effect it has on the subconscious brain. The testers’ amygdala made them like Coca-Cola more, because of the association that the Coca-Cola brand was triggering. But you don’t have to take my word for it. During that specific experiment, they were analyzing what part of the brain was activated in both tests.
The analysis showed that the amygdala (and the whole limbic system) was activated when they saw the brand Coca-Cola. It was not activated in the first part of the test when they were blindfolded. This is the power of Neuromarketing.
And by the way, Coca-Cola reintroduced the old formula three months later, calling it “Coca-Cola Classic”. It was a huge sales booster, and in 2002 they discontinued the “New Coke”. So if you young folks don’t see the New Coke on the supermarket shelves, it’s because it doesn’t exist anymore.
The Coke Zero case
The same happened when they launched Coke Zero. Remember Coke Zero: the black can? Because of the whole public health concern and “reducing sugar consumption” campaigns, Coca-Cola had to launch a product without sugar. They wanted to differentiate it from the normal Coke with a black can.
Because of their neuromarketing campaigns associated with their very-red brand, and because the amygdala is a visual organ (it can’t understand written language but only color, contrast, movement and so on) clients associated the positive feelings of Coca-Cola only with a red can, not black.
Because of this, Coke Zero didn’t sell as well as they hoped for.
It didn’t take long for them to realize that they had to unify the brand with the red color. They took Coke zero, Diet Coke, Coke Life, and they labeled them all the same: in red.
They just added a ribbon on top of the can, in a different color, to differentiate the various products.
Problem solved: now, all the dollars they were spending in Neuromarketing were effective on all the product lines. And guess what? Coke zero sales went up. Four flavors, one brand, one neuromarketing strategy.
It’s like if the new brand was trying to say to the amygdala:” It’s still the same brand, it will give you the same feelings”.
Example 3: The Google Special Blue worth $ 200,000,000
You know when you do a search in Google that you have the advertisement on top: the hyperlinks in blue? Well, Google analyzed and tested 50 shades of blue to see if, by chance, one of those shades had more clicks than others. They found out that there was one that was performing better.
They changed that blue across the board, and they had an increase in annual turnover of $200 million, just changing that shade of blue. This is the power of Neuromarketing.
Example 4: 1/10th of a second is worth $1.2 billion
Amazon reported that increasing the experience of the customer, having a quicker turnaround time when making a purchase of 1/10th of a second, increased sales by $1.2 billion. That’s right. 1/10th of a second speedier experience, $1.2 billion.
Rationally our brain cannot detect a 1/10th of a second difference when you go through your online shopping.
But the difference that the amygdala “felt” in terms of experience shifted people on buying $1.2 billion more products. This is the power of Neuromarketing.
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