Regardless of all the clever data analysis, processes, research and how clients and agencies like to try and control the process of creating brands and effective advertising we all forget that the decision to buy is influenced by one of the more primal brain areas and less about what makes us smart.
Brands that are the most successful appeal to the human, not the consumer or buyer. If you connect emotionally with your customer then you will increase your chances of being effective.
The neuroscience behind decision-making.
Did you know you had three brains! The old brain, the middle brain and the new brain. If you’re a marketer, you may have heard of the ‘old’, ‘middle’ and ‘new’ brains in relation to how we make (buying) decisions. The 3 brains refer to the structure of the brain in relation to its evolutionary history.
The reptilian brain evolved first and controls the body’s core functions from heart rate to breathing to balance. It’s called the reptilian brain because it includes the brainstem and cerebellum (the main structures found in a reptile’s brain).
The limbic brain came next and includes the hippocampus, the amygdala and the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain that records memories of behaviors that produced pleasant or unpleasant experiences: it’s responsible for your emotions and value judgements.
The last to evolve, the neocortex is credited with the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination and consciousness. It includes the two large cerebral hemispheres and has almost infinite learning abilities.
So, which of the 3 brains buys?
The classic theory goes that, consumers are rational and make choices after considering all relevant information, using the new brain. While this holds true for large purchases, like insurance or a house, research has pointed to the power of our older brains in everyday purchase decisions (like buying that pair of Nike trainers or a particular brand of beer).
Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux explained “…the wiring of the brain at this point in our evolutionary history is such that connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.”
What this clever neuroscientist is suggesting is that our brain waves flow from old brain to new brain, meaning our decision-making processes are much less rational than we’d all like to believe. So feelings happen before thought and they happen far faster. It's the power of the old brain in everyday purchase decision making.
Gut reactions, happen in less than 3 seconds. So emotional reaction to a brand, an advert or content resounds more loudly in our brain than does the rational response.
Clients often think that they need to give as much information as possible about their product so that consumers can be well informed. They are thinking that this will help them make a rational thoughtful decision. It doesn't.