Neuromarketing, what is it?

by Romy Boer

The term “neuromarketing” is growing in popularity. Advertising agencies everywhere market one of their unique selling points to be “the usage of neuromarketing” – but what does this fancy term actually entail? When I hear the term neuro, the first thing that I think of is difficult brain analyses, quickly followed by my second thought being “my bachelor’s degree does not cover difficult brain analyses, help!”. Do you feel the same? Then keep on reading, to discover the true meaning of using neuromarketing in advertisements.  

Before neuromarketing, a lot of marketing campaigns were developed based on gut feeling or “because this approach worked in the past”. Today, using neuromarketing in your advertisement mostly entails taking advantage of the unconscious decision making of the consumer. Humans make 95% of their decisions unconscious – shocking, I know – but yet very true. This, because our neocortex (the part of the brain that enables us to make conscious decisions) does not have the energy to run 24/7, therefore it is taken over by our mammal brain when the neocortex gives up.

Our mammal brain is not able to process persuasion techniques as our neocortex is able to. Therefore, our mammal brain is more easily persuaded by unconscious marketing techniques. But what are these unconscious techniques? Examples are the use of colour, the number of options given to select from, visual cues, the list goes on. These are all marketing tools that we do not consciously take into account when making a decision. For instance, you do not consciously think “I will buy the bread with the blue label, because blue makes me feel better than green does”.  

To give a corporate example of a very easy to implement neuromarketing technique, we can look at Deliveroo. Our neocortex is taken over by our mammal brain at the end of our workday, when we are tired and hungry. Deliveroo, who delivers food directly to you, plays into this by sending a discount coupon to your email slightly before 5pm (the average end of a working day), when most people are tired (and hungry) from work. Seeing a discount coupon for a dinner option at this time will be harder to process, then when you receive the same discount coupon right after lunch, as you will be energized and full. See how simple but effectively that worked? All Deliveroo had to do was take time into account, to raise the effectiveness of their advertisement.

Of course, this is just one example. There are hundreds of these small and simple neuro techniques out there that can be applied to marketing campaigns, and have proven to be very effective!

I hope this 101 in neuromarketing has enlightened you a bit on what this unique marketing technique actually entails! Maybe you are even confident enough to apply this to your future projects.

The chat bot technology is rising and becoming a preferred customer interface. Chat bots are personal assistants designed to simulate conversation (text or voice-based) with human users over the Internet. They have been around for quite a while now, but the quality is becoming better and better through natural language processing and big data analytics. They can answer your question, help you to get things done and do suggestions. Chats bots are also great for interactive customer service because they are accessible 27/4.

Apple Siri

One of the most known examples is Apple Siri. Things you can ask Apple Siri are for instance: ‘how is the weather tomorrow?’, ‘can you wake me up at 7 AM tomorrow?’ but also ‘what is the best sushi place in town?’ Imagine you are an owner of a great restaurant; of course, you want Apple Siri to mention it.

Only Sending an Emoij to Receive Relevant Information

In the travel industry chat bots are already quite popular. Companies like KLM,, Cheapflights and Skyscanner are using chat bots on a daily basis. One of the most progressive examples is Dutch airline KLM.

KLM uses the chat bot technology as a new kind of service towards their customers, and has built a code on that makes it possible to show a personalised Messenger plugin. If you use the plugin then things like your boarding pass and flight status updates will be sent to you directly via Messenger. It has never been so easy to find your information, and be up to date!

But that is not it, KLM offers also offers services during your holiday.  Imagine that you look for a bike rental; you only have to send a bike emoij and your current location and KLM instantly replies with the best address. Check it out here!

Chat with Miss Piggy on Facebook Messenger!

Recently The Muppets promoted their show on ABC via a so-called celebrity chat bot promotion. It was possible to chat via Facebook Messenger with Miss Piggy and ask her anything! Miss Piggy is definitely a chat bot with character. The people behind The Muppets Show came up with 6 000 possible reactions in de style of Miss Piggy and it was a success: some chat session took over 30 minutes!  

There are many ways that consumers and companies are using chat bot; as this technology continues to develop it is creating new and innovative ways to simplify and improve efficiencies in our lives. The technology has proven advantageous for everyone from everyday iphones users, to promoters of television shows. Keeping an eye on technology, such as the chat bot, is critical if companies and consumers are going to keep up with our growing markets!

Written by Leonie Douma

We live in a world where everything you can think of, can be found on the Internet. It should come as no surprise this had led to a problem, also known as the rabbit hole problem. There is so much content available, that the consumer gets lost in it. That’s why companies had to come up with a solution which is known today as personalized marketing. By using cookies for example, companies can follow your browsing behaviour and use this to present you with personalized offerings and content. Personalized marketing is essential for companies to ensure that consumers will keep coming back.

The Filter Bubble

A consequence of personalization is something that’s called the ‘filter bubble’, introduced by Eli Pariser. The filter bubble is an invisible algorithm that selectively guesses what information someone would like to see based on the search history of the user. Common examples are Google’s search results and Facebook’s news feed. What happens is that users don’t get to see the information that disagrees with their viewpoint and thus isolating them in their ideological information bubbles. But what determines what you get to see? You can think of clicks, viewing friends, likes on Facebook, reading news stories and so on.

The Downside of Personalization

Personalization may be helpful for online shopping, but it could have negative implications for the discourse in society because it closes us off to new ideas, people with other backgrounds, and opinions but also other crucial information. We don’t challenge our beliefs anymore and become blind to other perspectives. It thus creates the impression that our narrow view of the world is all that there is. As Pariser said, “too much candy and not enough carrots”.

Hitting the Psychological Jackpot

However, the filter bubble can not only be explained by online algorithms, but also by a persistent psychological driver: the confirmation bias. This is the tendency to search, interpret and recall information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs or assumptions, while giving less attention to alternative information. This effect is stronger for emotional issues and personal beliefs. It can be explained by wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. The result is overconfidence in your own beliefs and poor decisions due to this bias. The filter bubble not only seems to be the problem, we ourselves contribute to it as well.

It is debated whether personalized filtering is actually happening and if it is, to what extent? But it is definitely something we shouldn’t put aside without giving it some thought. Be aware of the fact that what you see on Google might be something different than what someone else sees. If you are looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix, it is a good thing that they already know what you like, but there might be more to it. What do you think, is personalization beneficial or harmful?

The filter bubble is likely having an impact on important decisions in your personal life. Decisions such as the way in which you have informed yourself about the upcoming elections. A relevant question to ask yourself – is it possible that the filter bubble has affected your vote for the elections?

Written by Jasmijn van Veggel

Advertisements are everywhere. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that wherever we look, we see ads. Product placement is an awesome example of exactly that: even while giving into our Netflix addiction or while watching your favourite TV show on the actual TV (oldschool, I know), we are getting brainwashed by commerce. Now, product placement is not a new phenomenon, but the tactics are getting sneakier and sneakier every day. Let’s look at what product placement does with us, and some awesome examples.

What is product placement, and why does it work?

I learned something in class once that stuck with me: imagine being in a café and having a conversation with someone, and totally focussing on what they are saying. Suddenly we hear our name being mentioned in a conversation that is not yours- it’s across the room. Immediately our focus is shifted and we are listening to that other conversation. How is it that we could focus on one conversation, yet still pick up signs from another? Well, that’s because our brain picks up pretty much everything that goes on around us. So even though you think you are only receiving information from one conversation, your brain is programmed to listen to everything that goes on around you. When something striking happens near you, it just switches its attention to something else.

You’re probably asking yourself what in god’s name I am dragging on and on about. Well, it’s actually quite interesting that our brain processes everything that goes on around us. That means that the things we don’t consciously see, we actually do see – we just process them differently. And – like with every other tiny chance they get – marketers are playing with this feature of our head. It’s called product placement: the subtle placement of a product in something we like watching. So yes, that means that if you went to see Deadpool, you saw a little IKEA advertising (that one was not very subtle, but genius nonetheless), or when you watched modern family, you were being persuaded to try Oreo cookies. The brainwashing never stops!

deadpool                      IKEA’s product placement in Deadpool: a blind lady trying to understand the instructions. Photo credit:

It’s is absolutely genius though, when it’s done in the right (subtle!) way. Here are some awesome examples:

The good

Now, there are tons of examples of good product placements. To give you just a few:

  • Ford in New Girl
  • Coca-Cola in American Idol
  • Ray-Ban in Risky Business
  • Apple in Modern Family
  • Blackberry in House of Cards
oreo modern family                        Oreo in Modern Family. Photo credit: 

It is, however, more fun to look at the outstanding examples in more detail. So keep reading!

The better

The name is Bond – James bond. And he loves himself a Heineken. Not only Heineken, but also Aston Martin have been really clever product placements in the James Bond series. The Aston Martin has practically become THE care associated with James Bond – at least it has in my eyes. That means that if we like James Bond, we automatically also tend to love Aston Martin cars.

aston                        Photo credits:

Heineken took it a step further. Besides being mentioned in the movie, the brand actually designed a bunch of commercial in the James Bond theme – with Bond himself! That’s masterly.

The best

The absolute best product placement – in my opinion – was in back to the future. Nike and Pepsi both showed futuristic products that ruled the world until the actual future: 2015. Nike actually lived up to the challenge and launched their back to the future items, as did Pepsi! To me, that is what you call ultimate product placement. Genius!

pepsi nike

Photo credits:

A mindtwister

Lastly, a mindtwister for you guys. Now, this is one of my favourite commercials EVER, it’s just hilariously well thought-out. But is it product placement or not? It’s kind of a reversed situation: Volkwagen (a brand) is showing Star Wars references (a media production) in their ad. Hmm, confusing. What do you guys think? Let me know in a comment!

Author: Kim van der Vliet

Looks matter. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about human looks. For the sake of romance it’s probably best to keep believing that personality trumps looks. It does, however, go for product packaging. The truth is that I – the worst chef in the world – could make a completely uneatable dish, and it would still sell – with the right packaging of course. HA! That’s quite awesome! But how does it work?

Ok, so what you may or may not know is that the way we taste is not actually only defined by our tasting sense. Weird, right? Smell, sound, sight and touch also play a huge part in the way we experience taste. Don’t believe me? In 2011 Coca-Cola changed their typical red Coca-Cola cans to white ones with polar bears on them for charity. Now, of course, the drink inside the can stay the exact same, yet people actually started complaining that Coca-Cola had changed their secret recipe! So their taste experience of Coca-Cola actually changed because the cans did. Crazy!

There are a few basic elements underlying product packaging psychology (tongue twister – I know):



I’ve talked about colors in my supermarketing article as well: they are super important. The associations we have with different colors differ per gender, age and culture. In general though, we  can outline it as follows:

  • Blue and white: linked with freshness (we see these on toothpaste packages and cleaning supplies etc.)
  • Red and yellow: evoke joy, ease and pleasure, perfect for the package of a snack. Red is also associated with a sweet taste; we tend to experience food or drinks sweeter when the package is red
  • Green: signals health, we see this on organic and healthy food packages
  • Black: is often associated with death and evil, probably not your best choice for – let’s say – a breakfast package. It is, however, also associated with power. Thus, in product classes like technology, it is often used.
  • Brightness: the brighter the color, the more positive the product is viewed



Shapes of a product packing are also of influence on how we perceive the product inside.

  • Shapey designs feel manly and powerful (Hasseroeder beer bottles have been made angular, just to improve manly appeal).
  • Round shapes are more feminine, harmonious and soft.

And for the real crazy psychology: when we place something in a square package, the taste of it is perceive as intensified in relation to that same product in a round package. Say whaaaat!?



Images on a package can also influence perception of the product. Do you want your product to be perceived as luxurious? Just add some vertical stripes behind the product. The product inside will be eaten more of at one time if the package shows the product in large quantities.

Another fun fact about product package images: a lot of cornflakes packages have a picture of corn on them. Most cornflakes don’t even have corn in them though, but we associate it with being healthy.

Also, have you ever thought about the complete randomness of a puppy on a package of toilet paper!? I’m talking about Page here. They use the puppy to enhance the idea that their toilet paper is soft.


It’s everywhere

So, next time you consume (anything – really!), pause for a second and think about how your current experience is affected by the product’s look, rather than functional benefit to you. Have you seen any cool examples of product packages that caught your eye? Let me know in a comment!

Written by Kim van der Vliet

Sources: Amsterbrand, Verpakkingsprofs

We all know it: we go to the supermarket fully planning on finally beginning a healthy life, but somehow you’ve found yourself on the couch again, with a bag of crisps and a life size stash worth of chocolates. How did this happen!? Where did we go wrong? Is our discipline really that embarrassingly low; or are there other factors at play? Well, the latter seems to be the case. You see: supermarkets are masters of psychological mind games, that keep making us want to buy shit (excuse my language) we don’t even need. Being poor students, it’s about time we knew how these sneaky bastards play with our minds. I shall call it Supermarketing, and here’s how it works:

We enter the store…

…and we usually see the fruit and vegetables section. Now, this has several reasons.

It makes us happy

First of all, the fruit and vegetables look so joyfully colourful and fresh, that it instantly makes us happy. We then see the rest of the store in a positive light. This, in turn, makes us more susceptible to other marketing tricks.

The marketplace-feeling

Looking more closely, notice that in most supermarkets fruits and vegetables are gathered in big bins. Now, this is some really farfetched stuff, but the vegetables and fruits in bins are supposed to give us a feeling of being at an outdoor market, which then gives us a (false) indication of low prices. Crazy, right? Even crazier is that this stuff actually works.

Trigger for unhealthy consumptions

But wait, there’s more! Once we have obediently put some fruits and vegetables into our cart (which is designed to show the bottom for as long as possible – so it seems emptier, and so we keep buying stuff), we start thinking about how super healthy we are being. Once we see that bag of crisps or other UNhealthy items, we buy it more easily because we’ll feel less guilty.

Moving on

Most supermarkets have approximately the same mapping: as mentioned above, you start at the fruits and vegetables area. Then there are some really tactic places for other products:

  1. All the ingredients for your diner can be found close to one another: it makes you more eager to combine a lot of products to make a lovely meal. The same goes for breakfast and lunch.
  2. Milk and cosmetics are necessities. They are placed at the very back of the store. This way we pass all other isles to get to the place we need to be. By that time, however, we’ve probably already grabbed some stuff we didn’t think we needed before we walked into the store.
  3. We reach the cashiers , and one last killer attempt is made to make us buy EVEN MORE. Here, we find small packets of gum or peppermints. The prices seem so small compared to what you’ve already bought, that you’ll think taking one won’t really matter that much.

Having finally reached the check-out though, we’ve been walking through a minefield of mindgames. Here’s some others you may encounter:

Placing products

Products a supermarket wants to sell, will be placed at the eyesight on the shelfs. Big action pack that have relatively low profit, will be placed on the lowest shelfs with the unpopular brands.

Popular products will be placed right at the middle of an aisle. So that, to reach it, we first need to cross the entire aisle with tons of other temptations.

People with kids have even more bad luck coming their way; products that kids tend to like are placed at kids eye-sight. Once the kids see the product and want it, it’s only a matter of time before mom or dad gives in and adds at least one extra product for their kid to their basket.

Colours, smells and sounds


Colours can play with our emotions. A lot of supermarkets will therefore sneak the colours red and yellow into their stores. For instance; red attracts our attention, and makes objects seem closer than they actually are (and lazy as we are, that makes it more easy for us to reach it!). Yellow makes you happy, optimistic and gives you confidence.


How wonderful is the smell of freshly baked bread? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but most of the time that ‘fresh’ smell is just an illusion. Most supermarkets add this smell artificially, to give you a hungry feeling while walking through the store which will eventually make you buy more food.


Supermarkets tend to play music that is very low-pace. Science has actually shown that this gives us a calm feeling and makes us stay in the store longer (also notice the absence of clocks in supermarkets, also meant to not rush you out of the store). This will in turn make us buy more products.

Even more crazy is this: science has also shown that when French music was played as background music in supermarkets, people tended to buy French wines. When German music was played, people tended to buy German wines. Awesome!

So there you have it: supermarketing. Next time you go to a supermarket, start to pay attention to these sneaky mindgames, and you’ll save loads and loads of money! It would be awesome if you guys knew any other psychological tricks supermarkets use! In case you do: don’t hesitate to leave a comment! Or, you know, if you want to use the comment section to cry out a little about all those years you’ve been fooled by supermarkets, that’s ok, too.

By: Kim van der Vliet