PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF CONSUMPTION
In all markets, customers buy products or services, exchanging money for expected and desired satisfactions the result of using a product or receiving a service.
Recent research in cognitive science and brain imaging of buyers considering a brand or deciding to buy validates an important finding and long-held intuition of marketing professionals: the impulse to buy originates at deeper, largely unconscious levels of the brain. This research indicates that it takes five to eight seconds for the conscious, rational part of the buyer’s brain to justify the originating impulse to buy.
The figure below depicts several dimensions of the decision to buy a product or service. As related to markets and brands, this cognitive model of buying motives supports the claim that effective engagement takes place at all levels of cognition and starts with unconscious motives and reactions.
Thus effective customer engagement works on both conscious and unconscious levels, activating the neocortex of rationality, the cortex of emotion and symbol, and the limbic system of basic instincts of the “reptilian” brain and its concerns of survival.
Unconscious motives to buy express the work of what cognitive science calls the limbic system or the reptilian brain of human beings. The limbic system manages autonomic functions (body temperature, heartbeat, etc.) as well as seeks the survival of the organism. Functionally, the limbic system includes the instinctual drives of hunger/ satiety, sexual attraction/procreation, and protection/safety. The pleasure center and the instinctual associations with money, arousal, and gambling reside in the limbic system.
As related to markets and brands, any product or service that consumers recognize as causing their survival becomes a must-have product or service.
facial expressions, choice of apparel of models,for example—and makes snap almost-irreversible conclusions: “You’re one of us (or not)” and “This promotes my survival (or is a threat).”
Thus, customer engagement will entail “micro localization” of imagery, copy text, and nonverbal metaphor, seeking to affirm tribal affiliation and instinctual satisfaction.
In practical terms, micro-localization will use a large library of imagery, metaphors, and copy concepts that validate tribal affiliations and the personal identities of consumers.
Conscious motives to buy reflect the desire to belong or fit in and rational justifications expressing common sense (“It makes sense”) and affinity (“I like you”).
Many junior marketers make the mistake of starting with surface-level facets and details of a branded offering, promoting a product’s low price and feature functions.
Other marketers attempt to harness a fad, chasing ever- fickle consumers in what we call “games of cool”—that move much too fast for all but the nimble guerrilla brand- marketing firm to harness.
Many professional marketers, especially those with a deep grounding in database analytics and direct mail, know that lifestyles, neighborhoods, and credit histories can provide stunning insights and support predictive models about the proclivity to buy among segmented customer groups.
The digital revolution in marketing has only reinforced the earlier insights of direct marketing: messaging, copy, images, and metaphors that test well in a small group or test panel will correspondingly prove effective with a larger group of customers that share common values, lifestyles, and demographic profiles.
The author of The Culture Code, Clotaire Rapaille, a preeminent researcher of the three-part or triune brain and how the brain process brands and value propositions, argues that each culture or society installs a survival kit—how to survive in a particular country or subregion—in the limbic system.
Rapaille further argues that globalizing brands that do not “crack the culture code” of individual markets will fail to win popular consideration and wide market acceptance.
This means that the limbic system processes nonverbal cues from marketing messages—hair styles,
The human brain consists of three major parts that contribute to the survival, success, and well-being of human beings and, in particular, customers. Successful customer engagement taps all three parts, providing simple but effective images, copy concepts, and metaphors appropriate to the perceptual filters of each part.)