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Using Brain Science for Marketing

By Stephen J. Genco, Andrew P. Pohlmann, Peter Steidl

Part of Neuromarketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Traditional marketing is often based on a rational consumer model that views the consumer as persuadable by rational arguments and consciously aware of what drives his purchase decisions. However, brain science research has demonstrated that an intuitive consumer model provides a more realistic picture of how consumers actually decide and buy. The following table presents the key differences between these two models.

The Rational Consumer Model The Intuitive Consumer Model
Information about brands and products drives purchase
decisions.
Habit, experience, and emotional cues provide shortcuts to
making decisions.
Factual information can be retrieved by the consumer,
completely and accurately.
Feelings about products and brands are the main memories
retrieved by consumers; facts are remembered sporadically and often
incorrectly.
Preferences are determined rationally. They’re clear,
unambiguous, and enduring.
Preferences are rarely the products of careful logical
analysis. More often, they’re inferred from the
consumer’s behavior, rather than the other way around.
A cost-benefit calculation is made to make a purchase decision
at the point of sale.
Most purchase decisions are made spontaneously and without much
conscious deliberation at the point of sale.
Preferences can only be changed by presenting new
information.
Product and brand preferences can be changed by changing the
situation within which the consumer is shopping.
Marketing and advertising communications are messages that
deliver rational, logical arguments about brands and products.
Marketing and advertising primarily influence consumers in
nonconscious ways. At a conscious level, consumers believe ads and
marketing have no effect on them.
Marketing and communications influence consumers by providing
logical arguments that are consciously remembered at the point of
sale.
The primary way that advertising influences the consumer is
indirectly, through repetitive association of the advertised brand
or product with positive themes and images.