Neuromarketing offers essential knowledge for the successful sale of olive oils and the detailed analysis of consumer behaviours. The application of the neurosciences to marketing allows for the analysis of desires, needs, experiences, feelings, memories, attention, perception, recall and motivations of people in greater detail.

Only too often marketing is spoken of in negative terms and as a synonym of deceptive advertising, a highly biased concept that is far-removed from reality and from all of the fields that marketing encompasses. It is an essential tool to get to know the market needs (research, analysis, strategy) and then satisfy them, thus creating successful products and an increase in sales.

A huge source of knowledge to analyse consumer behaviour in the markets is provided by psychology, and more specifically, neuropsychology and neuromarketing.

Neuropsychology studies the relationship between the brain and behaviour. Neuromarketing is the application of the neroscientific methods for understanding human behaviour in the markets. Thanks to the measurement of biometric parameters such as brainwaves, skin changes, pulsations, pupil dilation, eye tracking, etc., it is possible to understand aspects of human conduct in greater detail.

Psychology and neuromarketing allow for the more detailed analysis of peoples’ desires, needs, experiences, memories, attention, perception, memory and motivations.

Richard Silberstein, CEO of Neuro-Insight, states that “the effectiveness of advertising is directly related to the long-term memory level at the moment in which the key brand message is transmitted”.  Recall of the objects declines when people move from one place to another (“locating updating effect”), a datum to bear in mind when it comes to point of sale and packaging design. According to Radvansky and Copeland (2006 and 2010), the architecture of the atmosphere interacts with the architecture of cognition and information retention on a mental map.

Eye tracking, an effective tool

Neuromarketing makes use of a number of tools to obtain information. For instance, the eye tracking technique allows us to analyse consumer behaviour at the point of sale or to improve the graphic design of an olive oil packaging.

This method tracks the movement of the eyeball. Analysis of the eye movements is a type of biometric measurement that is of great help in understanding unconscious consumer acts.

The technology used to carry out this eye analysis relies on high-speed cameras with a view to tracing eyeball movement, pupil dilation and consumer blinking, among other factors. The glasses used at the point of sale have evolved enormously in recent years (as have the devices for office and laboratory studies) and they are designed in such a non-invasive way that some subjects even go to the bathroom or blow their nose while participating in a study at the point of sale, forgetting that they are taking part in a research project.

The information gathered allows for the visual journeys of the participants to be traced and for the creation of heat maps indicating the “hot” spots of the image, that is, where the eyes rested for longest. They may also indicate the routes followed and the order in which the design elements are examined.

The importance of the packaging

When finally we take the plunge and set aside bulk packaging, the development and launch of a new olive oil onto the market focuses mainly on the organoleptic qualities and the qualifications of the expert tasters. The packaging and other communication elements tend to focus on the cold pressing and, if we really get picky, the varietal, composition (single-varietal or coupage) or the cultivation method… Is this enough?

If we make use of the knowledge provided by neuromarketing, the answer to the previous question is a categorical NO.

The reason for such a rotund rejection lies in the fact that the emotional state of people has a notorious influence on flavour perception, the pleasure perceived and the evaluation of these foodstuffs.

For instance, according to a study published by Goldstein, Almenberg, Dreber, Emerson, et. Cols. 2008. in the American Association of Wine Enonomists, the pleasure obtained when consuming wine depends as much on the intrinsic qualities (pleasure and aroma) as it does on the external aspects (price and presentation). The same findings can be extrapolated to olive oils.

Neuromarketing in the packaging design

The brain responds to agri-food marketing actions in a very specialised way and the mirror neurons play a fundamental role. When a person eating a foodstuff is observed, the brain of the observer experiences similar sensations, as if they too were consuming the same product making them feel various emotions and feelings.

The sensations transmitted by a specific olive oil brand may be negatively affected by the serving method. If we do not correctly analyse the ease with which consumers can pour the oil in various uses, we might find that the product does not pour fluidly and that the application is not convenient, thus giving rise to negative sensations or even worse, rejection if the oil spills forth abruptly, staining a suit or dress valued by the user.

Another relevant fact provided by neuromarketing is the fact that the brain, for evolutionary reasons, processes images far faster than written words and that it also prefers “natural” images associated with the foods.

Bearing this information in mind and when planning the pack selection and design of a new packaging for olive oil, is it logical to create a minimalist or artistic design with no image or reference whatsoever to the “naturalness” of olive oil?

According to a study by the University of Jaén, presented at Expoliva 2011 (SEJ-315), the packaging type used has the effect of improving the perceived quality of an extra virgin olive oil by 14% (in terms of aesthetics, visual appeal, functionality, hygienic pouring, etc.). Does that 14% merit an investment in improving the pack, thus obtaining a better return on investment?

Neuromarketing and its tools also allow us to precisely measure the attention, emotional commitment and recall in such a way that we can compare two packaging designs. Using the measurements received through eye tracking and brain sensors, we can analyse:

  • Which of the designs scores highest when capturing the consumer’s attention (fundamental for the oil’s success at the point of sale).
  • Determine which design scores best on purchase intention, novelty and knowledge level.
  • Compare our design with that of the competition.

All of this information, allows us to design a packaging that gives us a competitive edge over our competitors in terms of capturing attention at the point of sale, perception of a natural product and emotional bond with the brand.

Neuromarketing, packaging and exportation

The study of the human eye shows how each colour has a different refraction. For instance, blue and violet affect the front part of the eye, while red and yellow affect the back part.

The exact location of the focal point varies between people and cultures, determining the relaxing and exciting colours. For example, young Chinese buyers perceive the colour blue to be relaxing and red to be exciting. However, young Australian consumers perceive just the opposite: they find blue exciting and red relaxing.

Should we always use the same colours in our communication tools regardless of the destination country? And the age of our target?

As we get older, our perception of colour changes, movements slow down, our hearing becomes less acute and our sense of smell deteriorates.

Depending on their target, brands need to adapt the colour palette they use in their product, packaging, ads and the entire consumer experience.

In short, neuromarketing enables us to analyse and understand consumer behaviour (on a physiological, neurological, emotional, etc., level) with a view to adapting products and communications to said behaviour, thus improving the consumer experience.

David Martínez Roig, CEO MarketingHuman Consumer Knowledge