Seems we can look into about every other part of a human, so why not into a buyers’ head? Apparently we can, reported Seth Brown in a special to USA Today recently. Brown (www.Rising was talking about marketing expert Martin Lindstrom’s new book, “Buyology.”

While I’m not sure his findings reveal anything revolutionary, or even new, they do seem to ratify suspicions about advertising, particularly TV commercials, and it makes for interesting reading.

Lindstrom teamed up with a lab in England where a neuroscientist scanned the brainwaves of subjects watching commercials. Lindstrom claimed it represented the first unbiased access to the consumer brain. (Well, maybe.) A weakness of standard marketing research, Lindstrom claims, is that people will not, or cannot, provide accurate information about their mental states. For example, when asked why they prefer a brand of soft drink, or how a warning label affects them, most people cannot give a straight answer. This, Lindstrom says, is the great advantage of Neuroimaging, which is MRI’s of brain waves.

After running tests for three years on more than 2,000 subjects, some of his interesting conclusions are:

• Traditional advertisements no longer create lasting impressions. By age 66, most people with a TV will have seen nearly 2 million commercials. That makes it hard for an ad to increase a viewer's memory of a brand, despite the millions of dollars spent. (Most dealers don’t use TV ads and, according to this, for good reason)
• Warning labels on cigarettes don't work. They stimulate activity in the part of a smoker's brain linked to cravings. (How do we do that to boat buying prospects?)
• Subliminal advertising can be highly effective. When watching an advertisement, viewers automatically raise their guard against its message. With subliminal advertisements, viewers' guards are down, so their responses are more direct. (Getting boats in backgrounds of movies, TV shows and news, etc. could be effective)
• But, product placement only works when fully integrated. For example, it works when Coke-bottle-shaped furniture is part of the set design on American Idol, or when Reese's Pieces candy was used for bait in the movie E.T. However, when a product is not integrated, such as FedEx packages appearing in the background of Casino Royale, there is no measurable effect with regard to viewer recollection of brand. (That still may boost name recognition, though)
• Marketing isn't restricted to the visual. Many use smells to sell products. Fast-food restaurants and supermarket bakeries use artificial fresh-cooked food smells. (Smell is being used by many department stores, Disney and others. (How about our showrooms?)?
• Sounds effect buying. A study showed shoppers purchased French or German wine depending on which nationality's music was playing on store speakers. (Showrooms?)
• Sex sells itself. Viewers of sexually suggestive ads did pay attention, but more to the sex than the ad. In one study, fewer than 1-in-10 men who saw a sexually suggestive ad could recall the product, while twice as many remembered the product in non-sexually suggestive ads. (You take it from here)

When the “Discover Boating” national ad campaign cranks up again next year, perhaps some of the study results in “Buyology” will be helpful. In the mean while, they’re fun to think about.


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