Neuromarketing 101: Top 10 Examples for your Marketing

What is Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is a market research method that leverages powerful techniques to provide insights into consumer decisions and actions, which ultimately guides better marketing decisions.

This form of human touch marketing gives marketers the power to design campaigns that sets them apart from competitors AND resonates with their target audience.


To put it simply, this type of marketing works to satisfy the senses of the chosen audience.

Below are 10 powerful examples of neuromarketing in action and how they are helping to change the way that digital marketing and social media marketing work today.

1. Eye Tracking Marketing

In marketing, eye tracking measures where people look on a web page and for how long. Vision is the most prominent of our five senses, accounting for 70% of the body’s sense receptors. While sight provides us with a great understanding of the environment around us, it can also overwhelm other senses that can lead to irrational thoughts or impulsive decisions.

Brands are using eye-tracking to gauge how their audience is reacting to their websites & landing pages, packaging designs, advertisements, newsletter, mobile apps and more. With the information gained, marketers can focus their efforts on developing features that are deemed the most engaging by the audience.

The heat map below illustrates in particular the power of directional cues. Researchers recorded eye gazing patterns for the advertisement below. Look at the heat map on the left vs. the one on the right. Which is more effective? The one of the right.

Researchers knew that the baby’s face would draw the most attention, but what wasn’t obvious was how a baby’s face could also be distracting.

Viewers were so fixated on the baby’s face that the ad copy was getting lost. By turning the baby’s face to the side, looking towards the ad text, something amazing happened…

Viewers were still looking at the baby’s face, but they equally focused their attention on the marketing message. This insight would have never revealed itself through traditional market research methods.

2. Packaging Designed for the Consumer

Big-name products like Campbell’s Soup, Frito-Lay, and Chips Ahoy are all leveraging neuromarketing techniques to create favorable packaging for their products. By using eye tracking and EEG (electroencephalography) data, they can locate design elements that aren’t resonating with their audience.

Note: EEG data is “an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. It is typically noninvasive, with the electrodes placed along the scalp… EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current within the neurons of the brain”

For example, Nabisco knew that consumers valued the resealable feature on the Chips Ahoy packaging, but when they tested it, they found it was actually eliciting negative emotional reactions. Why? It was too obnoxious, too difficult to read and the cookie visual on the front drew neutral (boring) emotions.

These insights allowed Nabisco to perform some significant packaging refinements before launch. The second draft of the resealable tab had subtle changes, but it was more legible and the cookie image was more dynamic (they added flying chocolate chips).

This specific form of human touch marketing and brain imaging gives companies vital information that can help guide more engaging branding and marketing decisions.

3. Anchoring Tendencies

Neuromarketing - Anchoring

When we’re faced with an important decision, we have a tendency to rely too heavily on one trait or piece of information to form an opinion. This is called anchoring and it’s a highly effective and subtle technique that’s being used throughout all industries.

The Campbells Soup Display

An interesting example of anchoring comes from a study by Wansink, Kent, and Hoch. They set up Campbell’s Soup sale display offering $0.79 per can with a sign that said “No Limit”, and another with the words “Limit of 12 per Person”. The study found that without a limit, shoppers purchased an average of 3.3 cans of soup. With a set limit, shoppers purchased an average of 7 cans.

Why did this happen? The shoppers brain anchored to the number 12 and assigned a meaning to it, like “this must be a really good product and the store only has limited supply.”

Another common example of anchoring is having the tendency to compare a product or service against other available similar products or services. Instinctively this might seem like a good way to evaluate a product, but a top marketing company will use this technique to win over customers with ease.

For instance, a high end camera might lose out to a lower quality product that comes with accessories and a case for the camera. This is why companies throw in added perks with their products.

4. Choosing the Best Ad

Have you ever thought how companies decide the best ad for their promotional campaign? A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare a number of advertising campaigns before sending them live. fMRI is a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow.

They wanted to create encouraging ads that promoted their hotline to help smokers quit. By using fMRI, they examined a test groups brain activity with three different advertisements. The ad campaign that sparked the highest amount of brain activity in the desired section of the brain consequently led to higher hotline calls. This helped the National Cancer Institute decide which ad was the most effective and persuasive.

5. The Fear of Loss

Neuromarketing - Fear of missing out FOMO

Or, in other words FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). In a 2013 study, researchers described FOMO as a “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent,  FOMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”

69% of millennials experience FOMO on a regular basis. It’s a mindset they’ve grown up with and will probably experience the rest of their lives. Marketers leverage this by conducting insightful audience research that uncovers the psychological and social implications of their actions or purchase.

Here are some FOMO examples you’ve probably seen or experienced:

  • Limited time offers
  • Limited products or one-of-a-kind products
  • Large events shared on social media

The key to effective FOMO marketing lies in understanding who your customers, and using the information to enhance customers experience, promote repurchases of products or services, and even create brand advocates.

6. Identifying Customer Priorities

Neuromarketing - customer priorities

If you’re familiar with Evolved Thinking marketing strategies you’ll know we’re strong advocates for personalized marketing. The “one-size-fits-all” strategy is a scam.

How are you going to create an amazing marketing strategy if you don’t listen to your audience?

Large companies like PayPal used EEG (as mentioned above) to understand how to position their product or brand with their audience. For example, to persuade more e-shoppers to use it’s online payment service, PayPal learned that convenience and speed was a bigger selling point that safety and security. This prompted them to shift their message from online security to focusing on the payment services ease-of-use.

7. Uncovering Hidden Preferences

One of the most powerful uses of neuromarketing is uncovering the hidden preferences of your audience. This is when your audience has a preference or opinion, but secretly or subconsciously their truth is different.

Frito-Lay brain-tested a focus group while they were watching a traditional Cheetos commercial. It featured a woman pulling a revenge prank on someone in a Laundromat by putting orange snack food in a dryer with white clothes. The majority of the participants said they didn’t like the prank, but EEG tests conducted reported the women’s brain activity indicated they loved the ad.

Participants in the focus group wouldn’t verbalize they found the ad humorous, likely out of fear of judgement. This is a perfect example of how neuromarketing can reveal hidden truths. Once these are uncovered, marketers can tailor their content and social media marketing more effectively.

8. The Best Website Layout

Neuromarketing - Website design

Colors, design patterns, fonts, logos and website layouts are all heavy influential factors on a customers online experience. Before deciding how to use the website as an influential marketing tool, you need to understand who you are talking to. We might sound like a broken record, but knowing the different personality traits and purchase behaviors of your online community can make or brake your online success.

So, what do you need to do to make your website more engaging for your audience?

The goal of using neuromarketing for your website is to increase the percentage of visitors who take action.

Through careful research, the best marketing companies have determined that traditional vertical style websites are more effective than the newer horizontal style sites, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discoveries.

However, don’t take this finding as the end-all for your website design. The online search world is rapidly gearing towards mobile search before desktop search.

In addition to website design, subtle features like testimonials, certifications, social widgets, reviews and more, help to build the “trust”factor with your audience.

9. Using Both Reward and Punishment

Game developers are relying on past neuro studies that connect the creation of dopamine in the brain to a reward and punishment system that makes their games a lot more engaging. To really leverage the power of neuromarketing and create something that’s going to compel gamers, creators are even hiring psychologists to build in psychological principles into their games.

One reward and punishment study revealed that by increasing the reward presented in the game, the action also increases dopamine levels within the brain. Just like the game creators, social media marketing can integrate neuromarketing principles as well to make them more effective in relying on rewards and punishments.

10. Price Setting

Neuromarketing - payment

There’s an interesting amount of neuromarketing that goes into establishing prices of services and products. Numerous studies show that precise prices (with odd numbers and decimals) are more believable.

In contrast, some research shows that visually simpler prices are perceived with a lower value. This has been attributed to the number of syllables in the price. Apparently, we humans “sound out” prices in our mind.

A 2015 study, proposed that rounded prices (e.g. $200.00) lead to a subjective experience of “feeling right” when their purchase decision is driven by feelings. Non-rounded prices felt better when the purchase decision was driven by a logical evaluation.

Why does this work? Researchers say its easier for our brains to process rounded numbers, while odd numbers make the brain work harder.

A Final Thought 

Neuromarketing has been around for decades, and from the research mentioned above, it seems evident that the more we listen and try to understand human behavior, the more we can fine-tune our campaigns to appease the consumer.

There are numerous tried and proven neuromarketing techniques, but not all of them are going to satisfy your needs as a marketer. It’s essential to listen first and then take action.

If you’re curious or unsure about which neuromarketing strategy might be beneficial for you to explore, reach out to us! Fill out the form below, leave a comment, message us on Facebook, send a carrier pigeon, WHATEVER! We’re more than happy to help you think through your specific situation and consult you on the best strategy – free of charge.

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