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Designing better products and packages with neuromarketing

June 8, 2015 1 Comment

kleenex-boxesNeuromarketing has been applied extensively in product and package design, in part because people find it very hard to articulate why they like or don’t like a design, and in part because people are very poor predictors of their future buying behavior. Here’s how neuromarketing can help marketers and product designers answer questions:

  • How do new products get noticed?
  • What makes a product or package attractive?

How new products get noticed

When developing new products or packaging, the first thing marketers must do is find the right balance between two basic aspects of the design: novelty and familiarity. Most consumers are attracted to novelty because our brains are naturally curious and on the lookout for new things. But too much novelty overwhelms us and may lead to rejection of a new product if it isn’t familiar enough for us to see how it would meet our needs. So, we’re also drawn to familiarity because it provides feelings of comfort, confidence, and understanding.

The key to getting noticed for a new product 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. In brain science terms, this means focusing on certain aspects of attention and emotion:

  • Differentiation can be measured by the extent to which a product triggers bottom-up attention (involuntary attention that isn’t consciously directed by the viewer) when viewed in a context of competing products.
  • Emotional response can be measured by the extent to which the product elicits positive emotional reactions, which can be invoked either directly (by shape, color, form, symbolism, or other signals) or indirectly (through priming, processing fluency, or nonconscious emotional markers).

For more on these terms, check out Parts II and III of Neuromarketing for Dummies. For a quick introduction to some of the key scientific concepts, check out Chapter 24, “Ten Scientific Pillars Underlying Neuromarketing.”

Neurodesign of everyday things

Project and package designers, marketers, and graphic and industrial designers can learn a lot from neurodesign (a subfield of neuroscience and social psychology). Neurodesign explores how and why our brains are attracted to some designs more than others, and why we perceive some features as naturally more aesthetically pleasing than others.

What scientists have found is that some aesthetic responses seem to be universal and “hard-wired” into our brains. For example, people seem to have a natural preference for curved lines and edges compared to straight lines and pointy edges. We also tend to prefer designs that are simple, symmetrical, and have high contrast.

Another important source of attractiveness is processing fluency (the ease with which an object can be identified and understood by our brains). When processing fluency is high, consumers don’t need to engage in deliberative thinking; they can process the object (such as a package or product) and make sense of it without a lot of conscious thought.

Processing fluency has been found to improve not only by the design itself, but also by the way in which the design is presented. Repeated exposure (familiarity again), pattern predictability, typicality (the extent to which a design represents an average or ideal for a category), and priming all contribute to processing fluency.

N4D-cover -120pxThis post is excerpted, with minor edits, from Neuromarketing for Dummies, Chapter 3, “Putting Neuromarketing to Work.”

Filed in: Practices • Tags: ,

About the Author:

Steve is a pioneer in the field of neuromarketing. He founded one of the first neuromarketing research firms in 2006 and published the first comprehensive overview of the field, Neuromarketing for Dummies, in 2013. He established Intuitive Consumer Insights in 2012 to help clients, vendors, and industry associations navigate the opportunities and challenges neuromarketing presents to the marketing and market research communities.

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