Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on LinkedIn

Making stores more brain-friendly

August 2, 2015 0 Comments

simpsons-monstromartRetailers can influence three aspects of shopping to make their stores more brain-friendly. All three can benefit from neuromarketing insights and can be assessed with neuromarketing methods:

  • Finding: Stores need to help shoppers find what they’re looking for, as well as discover new things that they may not be looking for.
  • Choosing: Stores need to make it easy for shoppers to choose among alternatives. Many sales may be lost if the choice task is too daunting for the consumer.
  • Paying: Stores need to help shoppers overcome the pain of paying. Some shoppers feel this pain more than others, but all shoppers feel it.


To support finding, the retailer’s resources include the store layout, displays, imagery, promotions, activations (such as an in-store taste testing), and, most important, how merchandise is displayed on the shelf.

These elements act as primes, impacting the consumer’s attention, emotional associations, and shopping decisions. The retailer’s strategy may be to focus on creating a particular image by distributing themes, symbols, and triggers throughout the store to guide the shopper and activate desired goals and impressions, such as a grocery store creating a rustic produce department with timber, barrels, and stacked wooden boxes to prime produce buying by suggesting the market’s produce is “fresh from the farm.”

The theming of retail environments attempts to prime broader emotional goals, such as feeling important, pampered, superior, clever, cared for, smart, responsible, and so forth. But the same principles apply when it comes to specific product categories or individual products. The retailer can use a wide range of primes in displays, the way pricing information is expressed, the context around the product being marketed, scent, sound, touch, and, depending on the product under consideration, even taste.


To support choosing, stores need to balance the needs of convenience-oriented shoppers and recreation-oriented shoppers. The convenience shopper wants to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible with as little choice as possible. Her purchasing behavior can be easily disrupted if anything gets in the way of her habitual shopping patterns.

In contrast, consumers engaging in recreational shopping generally like variety. But variety needs to be carefully managed to avoid choice overload (presenting too many choices so the shopper is overwhelmed and ends up choosing nothing). For example, putting products in categories makes choice easier, even if the categories are meaningless. Shoppers may be overwhelmed by 30 varieties of tops all laid out in a single display, but have no trouble choosing if those same tops are grouped into six bins labeled A through F.

Several other techniques for simplifying choice in shopping situations are discussed in Chapter 12, “The Shopping Brain and In-Store Marketing.”


To minimize pain of paying, retailers have several options at their disposal. In general, any tactic that creates psychological distance between buying and paying helps minimize the pain of paying. This is a fundamental principle behind the credit card — the bill doesn’t arrive until the end of the month. Layaway plans, “no payments for three months” plans, or other credit arrangements achieve similar effects. Pain of payment can also be lessened by offering ways to undo a sale, such as a money-back guarantee. Finally, pain can be minimized by tying the payment to a reward for paying, such as frequent-flyer miles or discounts on future purchases.

Photo credit: screen grab from The Simpsons

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 writer, speaker, researcher, and marketing consultant. He is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019), a study of persuasion and influence in marketing theory and practice, and co-author of Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013), a comprehensive overview of neuromarketing science, applications, methodologies, and ethics. He is Managing Partner at Intuitive Consumer Insights, where he focuses on marketing education and consulting.

Leave a Reply

Prove you're human, please * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.