Study Gets Inside Shoppers’ Brains – Literally


Researchers at Bangor University (UK) are taking “getting into a customer’s head” to a whole new level.


They are partnering with a UK based shopping behavior specialist company, SBXL, to further investigate changes in the brain that signal how consumers react to shopping experiences such as promotions, store layout, and time spent in the store.


Their prior research reveals some interesting information about consumer behavior as it relates to time spent in the store:


  • After approximately 23 minutes in a store, consumers tend to make more decisions based on emotions rather than rational thinking. It is after this time they are more likely to make impulse purchases.


  • After 40 minutes in a store, consumers tend to lose rational thinking all together, and will make decisions solely on emotional thinking. The theory holds that shoppers, at this point, will take advantage of promotions even if they end up being more expensive than what they originally planned to purchase. Another example is the “buy one get one free offer” – at this point in shopping, prior research suggests that at this point shoppers see the promotion, yet only take one item, ignoring the “get one free” part of the promotion.


This study will involved a specialized apparatus for participants to “shop”, so it strive to replicate the shopping experience as closely as it can without being in an actual store. This will be achieved by selecting products from a list to look at:


  • Changes to attention span based on length of time “shopping”
  • Reaction to promotions and ability to ignore products that are nearby, but not offered as a special discount or promotion.


This brain scan research is taking things to an entirely new level. In the recent past, companies have used eye tracking studies to evaluate advertising effectiveness, for example, but this study might reveal some additional insight into the minds of consumers.


Neuormarketing, which incorporates this type of data collection, is a fascinating area of research – this article offers some insight into what neuromarketing involves and how the information can be used to make decisions that directly affect consumer’s decision making purchases. It’s a long read, but is insightful into learning how consumers think, what makes them make the decisions they do, and how companies have incorporated this thinking into their own consumer experiences.




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