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Neuromarketing - Everything You Need to Know About the Hidden Science of Marketing

March 3, 2021

One of the most intriguing fields in the land of marketing is neuromarketing. As consumers evolve it’s important for brands to also evolve their efforts to understand what drives their consumers’ behaviors and attitudes. Old school methods such as surveys, opinions and even focus groups aim to find out the motivation behind our purchasing decision and make the underlying assumption that we are rational conscious consumers. 

When we look into it through the lens of neuromarketing, we quickly find out that the majority of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. In this article we will take a look into the vast field of neuromarketing and what truly influences people to make purchasing decisions. 

What is Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is an advanced field of marketing which studies the brain’s responses to different marketing material and stimuli in order to understand the motivations behind how consumers think, act and feel about products and services. Neuromarketing aims to answer marketing questions such as:

  • Which advertisement was the most engaging?
  • What price is the most desirable for consumers?
  • What kinds of emotions are experienced by consumers during an advertisement?
  • What kinds of language peak the interest of consumers?
  • What was the primary motivating factor behind the consumer’s purchasing decision?

These are just a few of the many different components that neuromarketing aims to answer for large scale companies that are trying to gauge the response of their current and future customers.

In addition to some of these questions, we can break neuromarketing down to six core stimuli in order to gain a more balanced understanding of how consumers think and behave. 

6 Stimuli of Neuromarketing

When it comes to marketing there are endless combinations of advertisements and marketing material that are meant to capture the attention and focus of people. However, the human brain is actually quite simple when it comes to what type of stimuli triggers it’s focus and attention. It’s also believed that our old brain, referred to as our “primitive brain” is responsible for the majority of our decision making. 

Below are the 6 stimuli of neuromarketing which can trigger the attention and focus of the human brain.  


Neuromarketing stimuli; tangible

The tangible input to neuromarketing involves communicating very simple and familiar concepts to customers. This means that you should write or express ideas in a value driven way which people can put a tangible value on. This can include writing headlines or ad copy in a way which people can clearly identify what you are proposing. Below are some examples of tangible headlines and ad copy.

  • Increase your revenue per visitor
  • 30-year mortgage rates hit an all time low
  • 50% off storewide sale
  • Buy one Get one Free
  • Lower your monthly car insurance

The primitive brain is simply not evolved to process complicated proposals and concepts and it will search for friendly, recognizable and simple messages it can understand. Making your proposals and messages tangible will also improve your customer satisfaction. 


Neuromarketing stimuli; personal

The primitive brain tends to respond quickly to anything which pertains to self. This is because the primitive brain tends to be completely self-centered. When it comes to neuromarketing, it’s important to craft your marketing and ad copy in a way that is customer-centric.

Focus on what your product or services can accomplish for your customers, not how great the product or service is. Below is an example. 

Weight Loss

lose weight add which is using neuromarketing

There is nothing more personal than wanting to work on yourself by losing weight. This sample ad is targeting people who want to lose weight without the stressful pressure of constant dieting. 


Neuromarketing stimuli; constrastable

The primal brain is accustomed to noticing cues and differences between objects. Contrast in neuromarketing allows the brain to make quick decisions that can help it move quickly towards it’s desired outcome. Contrast in neuromarketing includes things such as:

  • Fast or slow
  • Before and after
  • With and Without
  • Risk vs Safe
  • Healthy vs Unhealthy 
  • Passive vs Active

In neuromarketing, contrast is often used to illustrate differences between two products or services and to also highlight advantages and disadvantages. It allows our primal brain to hit the pause button on impulses and become rational when making purchasing decisions. 


Neuromarketing stimuli; Memorable

Another important component to neuromarketing is to make your marketing and message memorable. Mold your message and advertising in a way that sticks into the minds of your potential customers.

People have extremely short attention spans and as a result it’s your goal to create a clear, concise and memorable piece of marketing that they will remember. One of the best ways to make sure your message is memorable is to hook the attention from the start. 

Start your marketing with graphic visuals and audio that pulls people in immediately and causes them to think for a second. Below are some examples of memorable ads and marketing campaigns.

Emotional Marketing Campaign

Funny Marketing Campaign

Epic Marketing


Neuromarketing stimuli; visual

By nature, humans are visual creatures. One of the most crucial components to neuromarketing is being able to capture the attention of people through powerful and engaging visuals. Our primal brain uses visuals as external stimuli in order to orient us in the world and warn us of dangers. 

It is the primary way in which we observe, interpret and internalize information. Our visual processing is extremely quick and effective in helping in making decisions. In order to tap into the attention of people you have to deploy strong visuals which snap the attention of visitors and gauge their interest. 

In today’s digital landscape, companies are competing for consumer attention and it’s becoming increasingly difficult day by day. As a result, it’s important to be creative inside your marketing in order to not only get people's attention but also hold it. By default, we are hardwired to make decisions from our visual stimuli.

Below are some great examples of visual ads that get your attention and make you look a bit closer.

Drinking and Driving ads example

great drinking and driving ad using neuromarketing

Speeding Ad Example 

speed ad using neuromarketing


Neuromarketing stimuli; emotional

Our final neuromarketing stimuli is the emotional stimuli. Our primal brain is highly triggered by emotional cues. Emotions are not only powerful, they are scientific. They are so powerful that they have the ability to rearrange the chemicals in our brain. 

They release dopamine and serotonin and are one of the primary motivating factors which influence daily actions in our lives. We tend to believe that we are rational human beings who take actions by careful analysis, but the truth is we are driven by emotions.  The emotional framework in neuromarketing can be broken down into the following emotions:

  • Happiness
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Awe
  • Fear
  • Nostalgia 

Below is an epic example of emotional neuromarketing from one of the most famous shows of all time, Mad Men. 

The Carousel 

If this doesn’t pull on your emotional heartstrings that I don’t know what will. 

Companies That Use Neuromarketing

There are many large scale companies which have been using neuromarketing techniques for a long time and some that have recently started getting creative with neuromarketing. 


microsoft logo on the wall

Microsoft is one of the big players that has been using neuromarketing tracking techniques in order to learn people's tendencies and find out a bit more about their purchasing decisions. The tracking helps them to predict specific customer preferences and what kinds of values they look for when shopping for products. 


Apple logo

Apple is perhaps the king of neuromarketing. Apple is no stranger when it comes to design and tapping into customers brains for feedback. As a result they design their products in a way that causes people's brains to release neurotransmitters when they use them. 

They are simple, sleek and extremely fun to use. The tangible and intuitive nature of their product designs helps you establish a flow state when you are using them. 

Neuromarketing Examples

In order to further understand how neuromarketing is being used in today’s marketing and advertising world it’s important to take a look at some real world examples. 

Neuromarketing - Pepsi vs Coca Cola

Perhaps one of the most popular neuromarketing studies is that of Pepsi vs Coca Cola. 

coca cola vs pepsi. ad

Consumers had been recorded as having strong differences in preferences between the two drinks, despite the fact that both companies have very similar formulas. Researchers served participants Coke and Pepsi anonymously and later revealed the drinks in behavioral tasting tests and brain scans to find out more about how they perceived not only the taste but the brands after they were revealed. 

When participants found out what they were drinking, it had a strong impact on their overall brain activity. It revealed that choice between the two brands didn’t depend solely on taste, but how brands have the power to shape choice and cultural differences. 

Neuromarketing Amazon

Amazon logo on the wall of a building

Amazon is extremely good at finding out what motivates people to buy. One way they have accomplished this is becoming customer centric. They are literally obsessed with their customers and as a result have become one the biggest companies in the world. 

The reason Amazon is so successful is due to the fact that they have perfected one of the 6 neuromarketing stimuli, the personal stimuli. They essentially know that their customers like before they even like it. 

How is this even possible?

They carefully analyze large sets of data about their customers, the frequency in which they shop online, and what kinds of things they buy. They have tapped into your internal psyche without you even knowing it and have made shopping online as simple as clicking 3 buttons. From the moment you visit Amazon, they custom tailor recommendations for you that you have shown previous interest.

recommended products based on behaviour and purchases

Most important of all is that they are extremely helpful pointing you towards what you are searching to find through related items. 

Related Items

related items to buy when visiting a webshop

They carefully study your behaviors online and make everything so easy that you won’t even think to look elsewhere for products. Their whole website is optimized around neuromarketing and as a result they know how to tap into the behavioural tendencies of consumers. 

Neuromarketing Tips

If you are looking to deploy some neuromarketing strategies into your own company below are some tips that can help you do that.

  • Use the 6 Stimuli of Neuromarketing as a start. The 6 Stimuli of neuromarketing are extremely powerful when it comes to laying the groundwork for creating a powerful marketing and advertising campaign. Use some of the principles within each stimuli as a basis for creating your marketing campaigns. 
  • Use the FOMO Marketing Strategy. Using FOMO is a great way to quickly gain the attention of customers online or in person. People hate to admit it, but they are suckers for limited-time discounts, buy one get one half off deals, exclusive customer discounts and sales. This will spark a sense of urgency for your customers and tap into their impulses. 
  • Use Powerful Call to Actions. Using effective call to actions in your marketing is meant to stimulate your audience in order to grab their attention and hold it. It’s a good way to connect with your audience and deliver your message. 

Neuromarketing Books

If you are interested in learning more about neuromarketing from experts in the field check out some of the recommended books below 

Brainfluence by Roger Dooley

Brainfluence book by roger dooley

Smart Persuasion - by Philippe AIME

Smart Persuasion, how elite marketers influence consumers and persuade them to take action.

Hooked - Nir Eyal

Hooked book written by Eric Ries


As global consumerism continues to evolve, more and more companies will make use of neuromarketing and continue to deliver products and services that their customers love and enjoy. Understanding what motivates people to buy allows companies to create value, engineer new products and services and make improvements in technology. 

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