Counter Intelligence: Neuromarketing and Packaging Design
In the retail industry, marketers have come a long way in developing their understanding of the emotional motivations behind customers’ purchasing behavior. As a result, corporations have begun increasingly searching for new methods beyond traditional surveys and focus groups to gage the effectiveness of their advertising efforts, with many turning to the growing field of neuromarketing for answers. Neuromarketing experts rely on such tools as fMRI, electroencephalogram (EEG), biometrics, eye tracking and facial coding to measure customers’ reactions to products and brands.
The applications of this new consumer intelligence research tool are fascinating. Frito-Lay, for example, discovered that Cheetos consumers are addicted to the product’s messy orange cheese dust, information the company utilized when creating its award-winning series of new ads, while Microsoft has used EEGs to test the engagement of gamers when they watch ads on Xbox in order to predict their likelihood of purchasing the product advertised.
But neuromarketing hasn’t only been used in the realm of advertising; it’s making an impact in packaging design as well, especially for food products. Neuromarketing research findings led Campbell Soup Co. to completely re-design its soup labels, introducing photos of steaming soup in more modern, white bowls; shrinking the company’s logo; and completely eliminating the once prominent spoon from the photography. Likewise, Gerber and Chips Ahoy! packaging also recently underwent design revamps after undergoing neuromarketing-based evaluations.
According to author Steve Genco, who founded Consumer Insights to help clients navigate neuromarketing opportunities, neuromarketing can help product designers answer two important questions: How do new products get noticed, and what makes a product or package attractive? The key, Genco says, is “finding the ‘sweet spot’ between novelty and familiarity that provides differentiation from existing products in the category but also provides assurance that the new product meets the consumer’s emotional expectations,” which entails honing in on certain aspects of attention and emotion. Neurodesign, a subfield of neuroscience and social psychology that explores how and why our brains are attracted to some designs more than others, Genco says, is helping packaging and graphic designers put neuromarketing concepts into practical use.
While the nascent field of neuroscience still has its flaws and limitations, it’s becoming clear that this valuable consumer research tool is here to stay.