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What You Really Experience When You Buy

Have you ever thought what made you take certain actions and not others? Why you buy the chocolate when you know you don’t really have the means? What made you buy one brand of clothing instead of another? Reasons abound, from economic theory, psychology and brain imaging techniques. But there are a handful of principles that dictate largely how we make decisions. If you read this previous article, then you will know about our r-brain, where our most basic instincts reside: fight-or-flight, breathing etc. Research by SalesBrain, the world’s first neuromarketing agency, showed that there are a few basic guiding principles that dictate how we perceive the world (we might all see the same thing, but we definitely do not perceive it the same way). Here are the principles:


Avid photographers will know all about contrast. It refers to the difference in color and light between parts of an image or field of vision. Without revealing too much, it is what magicians use in what is known as black art. A man in a black tuxedo standing in front of a black curtain wearing white gloves appears invisible while only the gloves remain visible, giving the impression that a ‘person’ with only hands are moving around.*


As I mentioned in this article about memory, somehow the ‘brain’ makes it its priority to protect its self-esteem. Its immediate function is survival and does not care about others (you might ask “what’s in it for me?”)

Beginning and End

We tend to only remember what happened in the beginning or at the end. The primacy effect, that is, placing larger importance on things that happened in the beginning and the recency error – placing larger importance on things that happen most recently even though it might be of lesser importance are the two cognitive biases that have been proven extensively as general ways we behave. Collectively known as the Serial Position Effect. Beginning and End This short attention span means that we must

We focus is on significance and not frequency


Consumers look for what is tangible and focus on what can be quickly recognised.  This feature, perhaps, confirms the primacy effect above. Because our attention span is extremely limited, people prefer what is familiar to them . Magicians know how the brain pays attention to constantly scanning for what is familiar.


We focus is on significance and not frequency. So for example, when you mistook a garden house for a snake, you will get a fright regardless of what it really was. Whatever is marketed to consumers must instantly grab their attention.
Too many options distract people from their objectives


Create chemical reactions that directly impact the way we memorise and act. The structure of the brain actually causes emotions to overwhelm rationality. Our emotions have  a mind of their own, and is the reason why Emotional Intelligence is so important – to know what we don’t know and knowing what our feelings are.

*Female faces look more feminine due to higher contrast between the eye and mouth relative to the rest of the face – also the purpose of make-up.

In the shopping mall

Imagine walking into a store (for example a retail store with different cold drinks, chocolates, cookies etc.). Take chocolate, for example. You stand chooses the Cadbury White Chocolate (contrast) because the wrapper is light brown with half of it white. On opposite sides are other competitor chocolates that are dark wrappers containing only single colour – black.  You just love the feel and size of the wrapper (tangible). The fonts, direction, use of colour just looks soooooo nice. You decide to buy it. Afterwards, you have no idea why you bought it (emotion).

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Werner van Zyl
Phone: +27 84 810 22 74
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