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3 Insights to the Psychology of Marketing

A primary key to marketing is understanding how and why people act the way they do, and applying that knowledge to influence how people make decisions. Much of human behavior involves subtle psychological principles that determine how we go about our lives and take action. As marketing content strategies continue to multiply, there are fundamental aspects of the human psychology that never seem to change. In this blog, we’ll feature physiological cues that can be utilized when planning a business marketing strategy, and highlight ways that you can appeal to the human subconscious mind when looking to convert prospects into customers.

 

Priming

According to Wikipedia, priming is “an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus.” Psychologically, priming familiarizes an individual about a certain topic indirectly, making them unconsciously feel more familiar and comfortable with that topic in the future. In marketing, priming is used to subtly nudge customer behavior towards a particularly desired marketing outcome.

As an example, in 1999 researchers performed a field study in a grocery store to investigate the extent to which music could influence customers’ selections of French or German wines. Over a 2-week period, French and German music was played on alternate days from an in-store display selling French and German wines. Days when French music played led to French wines outselling German ones, whereas days when German music was played led to the opposite effect. Responses to a questionnaire suggested that customers were unaware of these effects of music on their product choices.

Utilizing imagery is a commonly used priming technique, and it is quite powerful. An interesting study highlighted by Psychology Today was conducted by researchers who altered the background imagery of a website to study consumer choices. When users were asked to choose between 2 products in the same category (such as an Audi or a Lexus – both cars), they found that visitors who had been primed on money (the website’s background was green with pennies on it) looked at price information longer than those who had been primed on safety. Similarly, consumers who had been primed on comfort looked at comfort information longer than those primed on money.

Skillful usage of wording is another priming method. Have you ever noticed a brand, site, or advertisement display a specific word (such as “value”, “giving”, “trust”, or “best”) in bold, sized larger, and in a color contrasting to other words around it? This is a priming technique designed to make customers subconsciously associate a particular idea with that brand.

Priming is a powerful tool in marketing strategy, as it allows the skilled marketer an opportunity to use subtle cues that enhance overt messaging and gently guide customers toward making a decision or feeling a particular way about a brand or product. We utilize priming while marketing client accounts, as it is an effective tool that assists in brand positioning and cohesion.

 

Color

Color has long been known to have a powerful psychological impact on people’s behavioral decisions – this knowledge has been utilized by marketers for decades. Colors elicit emotional responses from people, and the use of color in branding can have an immensely beneficial (or detrimental) impact on any business.

Researchers studying the impact of color on marketing found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone. In essence, intelligent use of colors can contribute not only in differentiating products from competitors, but also in influencing moods and attitudes (positively or negatively) towards certain products.

While we’ve all heard that certain colors elicit particular responses in people (i.e. red makes people hungry, green is calming, etc.), these are very broad generalizations that can lead to inaccuracies when designing brand identity designs. A study on the relationship between color and branding found that customer response depended heavily on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for any particular brand or service, and not the actual colors used. In short, customers quickly judge whether the branding colors fit what is being sold or offered, and decide whether to engage accordingly.

We pay close attention when creating marketing collateral, graphic designs, or logos for our clients to ensure that they are custom-tailored to each particular brand’s identity. To make the most impactful designs, our design team utilizes the science of “brand personalities” to accurately place our client brands into the most appropriate color “dimension”.

According to Psychologist and Stanford Professor, Jennifer Aaker’s research, there are 5 core dimensions that play a role in a brand’s personality (and general color groups that we typically associate with these dimensions). If you’ve ever wondered why the ARTEMIA branding is green, have a look at the figure below:

 

5 Core Dimensions of Brand Personality Graphic

Image Credit: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/psychology-of-color/ 

While some brands can encompass two of these traits, most tend to fall into one specific category. Professor Aaker’s research, as well as other research on this topic, has discovered that it is far more important to fit the personality you want to portray, rather than trying to fit stereotypical color associations.

 

Loss Aversion

We all fear loss – job loss, money loss, relationship loss, etc. This fear is primal and instinctual. As marketers, the fear of loss can be a powerful card to pull when trying to retain a customer or entice a new one. According to Wikipedia, studies have shown that the pain of a loss is almost twice as strong as the reward felt from a gain. Buffer recommends taking the time to discover your customer’s challenges and reservations, and alleviate their concerns up front. Risk-free trials and money-back guarantees are one way to deal with loss aversion. Remove the fear of loss from the equation, and you’ll benefit from a more comfortable prospect or customer base.

Loss aversion can be a great tool to re-engage stale customers as well. Relate mentions the power of providing valuable suggested actions to engage customers and alleviate a fear of loss. For example, companies can send push-notifications to customers that have abandoned online shopping carts, letting them know that a particular item is low in stock. This is shown to increase purchases drastically, and customers are happy because they feel as though they don’t miss out on something they may have wanted.

To take the previous tip a step further, Relate noted a 350% conversation rate increase when companies send a temporary promotional code to customers that have abandoned shopping carts. The psychology of a temporary deal makes people not want to lose out, and is ultimately a win-win for the business and customer.

For more powerful marketing tips that will help your business stay ahead of the curve, get in touch for a free marketing consultation.

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