Neurologica of purchasing decisions

The essential marketers task is to influence short-term and long-term solutions to buyers, inducing them in favor of buying certain brands. Need to retain existing customers and recruit new, and increase the frequency of purchases. Therefore, the center for marketing measures lies the question of why people buy, and not another, and what determines their choice.

In an innovative experiment of Professor, Stanford University Brian Knutson and his colleagues conducted in 2007, an attempt was made to predict consumer choice using the analysis of neuronal activity of the brain (see figure). First, participants in a few seconds showed the image of the product, for example chocolate boxes. Then on the screen appeared and the man had the touch of a button to indicate he agrees to purchase this product or not.

Brain activity was measured using FMRI — functional magnetic resonance imaging. Tomographic images showed that the images of products activates neurons in the so-called pleasure center — the area of the brain that becomes active when we think it’s valuable. As if the brain says, “I want it”. The strength of the desire to possess depends on the value, which, in our opinion, is in any thing. In the associative memory is stored associated with the product experience (direct or indirect use of memories is or how it was used by other people). Associations constitute the value we expect to receive from the brand. If the expected value is large, the pleasure center is activated very much and Vice versa.

What happens when in addition to the image of the product appears the price? It engages a different part of the brain — the Central share, which is normally activated when we experience pain, for example from a cut (physical pain), or when we do not agree to the company (the pain of social rejection). In other words, the price interpreterpath the brain as discomfort, therefore, our concept of price perception is far from rationality. The need to pay to leave money brings us pain and suffering. To explain this, we need to realize that in the brain there is no module of the shopping and also purchase buttons and module brands. He has to decide which of the existing neural modules, the resulting unrelated to the shopping event, needs to process information about the brand, product, and price. From the point of view of intuition is correct. Products and brands reward us, as they help to achieve the goals. The price implies the need to part with something that we already have with money. It is logical that it may be perceived as a painful experience.

Neurologica purchase decisions based on a simple equation: net worth = pleasure – pain. The higher the net value, the more likely the purchase

In addition, scientists have discovered the basic principle that determines the product will be bought or not. And this principle is very simple: if the ratio of the activation of pleasure by the pain level exceeds a certain value, the subject is inclined to make a purchase. The brain calculates the “net value”, and if the difference between the expected pleasure and suffering is large enough, the purchase is made. Based on this, scientists learned to accurately predict the probability of purchase, because of what their article is called “Neural predictors of purchases”.

The experiments of Knutson showed that purchasing decisions are taken on the basis of the ratio between pleasure and pain. Thus, marketers have only two levers of influence on buyers: pleasure and suffering, and the strength of their impact can be adjusted independently from each other. For people to buy, you need to increase the perception of pleasure and reduce suffering. However, marketers often develop a dual perception. It seems that the focus on the brand and special price are mutually exclusive, although it is not. After all, their goal is to increase the net value, which calculates the brain, starting from the expected pleasure and caused a level of suffering. So, the same is possible to tell about the value of a brand or product and select to “hard” selling the message (for example, “to such and such a period, the discount of so many percent”). The first message will increase the expected pleasure, and the second will reduce the suffering, which will increase the net value to the buyer.

This simple basic principle of decision-making explains why Starbucks has the right to appoint coffee premium price, but some Amateurs sunglasses buy designer models for three-digit amounts. Brand stimulated the pleasure center increases the subjective value of the product, which reduces the resistance when the prices. The price of these goods higher, but the fun of them in the eyes of the buyer also increases, so it achieves the best balance between rewards and costs than purchasing more cheap points.

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