Neuromarketing techniques

June 21, 2021

Image you are heading to the supermarket to purchase some grated cheese. You reach the cheese section to find an astronomical selection of cheeses, and more particular an overwhelming selection of grated cheese brands and deals. Which one should you purchase if none of the products seem familiar or your go-to brand is not available?

The price and size will most likely influence which one you decide to add to your cart. However, these characteristics actually play a much smaller role in your purchase decision-making process than you would like to think.

In fact, our first contact with the colour, texture and shape of packaging significantly influences our purchase-making process because it creates a connection between us, the buyer, and the product. According to a Harvard University study, 95% of purchases are non-rational and are purely emotional. 

Marketing experts use neuromarketing to better understand the emotional responses packaging produces. 


So, what is neuromarketing exactly and how is it applied to the design of plastic packaging? Neuromarketing is a term that was coined by the Dutch professor and 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences Ale Smidts, and it applies the disciplines of neurology, neuroscience, neuroeconomics and neuropsychology. 

Marketers use neuromarketing to better understand what prompts consumers to subconsciously choose one product over another to optimize the conversion rate of a brand. 

According to a report published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Business School, the chances of buying a product substantially increase when we hold it in our hands because it produces an emotional, tactile, and sensorial response. If we develop marketing and packaging strategies that factor in the multi-sensorial aspects that influence consumers’ purchases, we will be able to capture these consumers and have a leg up on the competition.


Neuromarketing is divided into the following areas of study:

  • Visual neuromarketing: it has been scientifically proven that the expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is absolutely true. Research has demonstrated that the brain retains 80% of the information it receives by visual cues, 20% by reading and only 10% by hearing. Visual neuromarketing studies how images, colours and other elements influence our sight.
  • Auditory neuromarketing: this branch of neuromarketing studies how what we hear affects our brain when making purchases and retaining information. For example, clothing stores will play one type of music in the morning and another in the afternoon, and this has nothing to do with the manager’s musical preferences but rather on auditory neuromarketing strategies.
  • Kinesthetics neuromarketing: this branch of neuromarketing studies touch, taste and smell. Although it is the least used, it holds incredible potential in influencing our choices. 


Driving up sales is not the sole reason for applying neuromarketing to the design of packaging. Here are a few more examples:

  • Getting to know users and their preferences, behaviours and motivations allows to enhance the shopping experience through design, use, materials, etc. 
  • Tools based on scientific tests and evidence make for more precise, effective strategies. We can measure results more precisely and modify designs, shapes and colours based on the conclusions.
  • Scientific research in non-marketing areas can help broaden perspectives and potential approximation strategies. Perhaps we would never have come up with a transparent plastic packaging solution for prepared foods if it were not for neuromarketing research revealing that consumers’ appetite open up when they see the contents of the packaging. This revelation gives way to new opportunities and ways of working. 
  • The identification of common behaviours and patterns gives us clues on how to tailor strategies that meet the needs of consumers.
  • Whether you place your product on the second shelving unit down or by the checkout will impact sales. Neuromarketing can serve up the insight you need. Applying the science of packaging improves the point-of-sale marketing tactics because we will have a better understanding of the colours and location required to prompt the purchase.

If you find this article interesting and you would like to stay abreast of the latest developments in marketing and neuromarketing, and how it applies to the packaging industry, sign up to our newsletter and you will receive all the content published on our blog. 

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