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Consumer behaviour

Your body knows…

Your body knows…

Imagine, that on the desk in front of you, you have four piles of cards. A, B, C and D. Each pile contains cards which will either reward you (you win a sum of money) or punish you (you lose a sum of money). You are given £2,000 of play money to start with, and told that you need to turn 100 cards over, taking them from any of the piles in any order. The aim is to be in profit by the end of the 100 cards.

Now, if you’ve read my blogs before, or you’ve heard me speak, you will know that this is likely to be a psychology experiment. And it is! The original experiment was conducted at the University of Iowa by Bechara and colleagues (including renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio) back in 1994. So, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, the piles of cards are not all the same. Two of the piles are ‘bad’ – that is, overall they will cost the participant money. The other two are ‘good’ – that is, overall they will pay out to the participant. Of course, the participant does not know which is which!

So, off you go. Start turning the cards over and see how you get on… Read more

Brands as seen through Other People’s Eyes

Brands as seen through Other People’s Eyes

How good is your memory?

Don’t worry, I am not going to ask you what you had for breakfast yesterday, or where you were last Tuesday evening. I just wonder how good you are at recalling things which you see on a regular basis.

Like the Apple logo. Could you draw that if I asked you to?

Or the Burger King logo – how well could you recall that one?

A study carried out in America, did just that. It asked people to draw the logos of some of the most recognised brands on Microsoft Paint. And the findings make for interesting reading…or viewing. Read more

Whatever is Golden, it usually isn’t Silence

Whatever is Golden, it usually isn’t Silence

You are a good driver, right? I’m sure you are diligent and attentive and you always have your mind on the road and its other users. Always. And yet, I could probably reduce the level of attention you are giving the road to a fraction of what it usually is by doing just one simple thing. Any ideas what it is?

I could simply play your favourite song. Even better if it is your favourite song from your late teens. Because what will happen is your brain will be flooded with memories of ‘that person’ who made your heart race, you will be recalling your first dance with them or the snog at the end of that film you went to see. You will be transported back to a different time, place and maybe circle of friends. Time will stand still…all whilst you are still doing 68mph (well done you!) on the motorway.

Music can do that to us. It transports us and stimulates memories and emotions without us even trying. And so can many of the sounds we are surrounded by and bombarded with on a continuous basis. Read more

The Sweet Smell of Success

The Sweet Smell of Success

What is your favourite smell? Fresh bread? Fresh cut grass? Bacon? Coffee? Your pet? Roses? A luxurious moisturizer? An aftershave which takes you back to a special person? There are so many to choose from…

Smells hold a special power within our brain. Their impact can be highly influential, yet sadly often overlooked.

When our senses receive information, they each have to send messages to the thalamus within the brain, before going on to the higher areas of perceptual processing. All that is, except the sense of smell. Smell has a fast-track route which means it not only registers faster, but it registers within an area which is connected to our emotions. Therefore, smells directly stimulate our emotions. Read more

The eyes have it

The eyes have it

When (if!) ever we think of how we see the world around us, we often get it wrong. Some people use analogies like cameras to describe how our eyes ‘capture’ the external world. But we now know different. We now know that our eyes don’t see the world…our brain does. Our eyes gather data about light, movement, etc, but it is the brain which interprets these and makes sense of it. And where there is interpretation, there is room for opinion…and error.

Consider the pictured illusion (and the key word here is ‘illusion’!)  Read more