Understanding Human Behaviour
Martin Lindstorm
Born in Denmark
Lives in Sydney
World leading brand expert
“buy.OLOGY “ New York Times Bestseller
Pub 2008
Examines customer behaviour.
In Search of the Buy Button
• 150,000 new products
launched per year
• 26000 new brands per year
• Marketing traditionally
uses questionnaires
• Focus Groups
• But not very successful
• 80% will fail
• Why?
fMRI – basic principle
• Neural activity leads to local
changes of deoxyHb and oxyHb
• Hemoglobin is diamagnetic when
oxygenated but paramagnetic when
• The magnetic resonance (MR)
signal of blood is therefore slightly
different depending on the level of
• Cost of scanner: 2 – 2.3m (3 Tesla)
• 525 USD / hour Avg 1 hour per
A long time ago … neuroanatomy
• Striatum=Caudate +
Lenticular Nucleus + Int
• Lent Nuc = Putamen +
Glob Pall
• Input to BG
• * Ventral: Preparation,
initiation and execution of
reward-related behavior as a
result of successful integration
of (relevant) emotional and
cognitive information (strong
connections to the OFC and
the ACC) S even when rewards
were cued but omitted S
The Pepsi Challenge
• 1975
• 68 billion USD soft drinks
industry in US alone
• Coke was dominant
• Pepsi challenge: blinded test
to see which tasted better.
• More than 50% preferred
Pepsi but this did not reflect
• Why not?
fMRI & Pepsi
• Dr Montague Neuroimaging Lab 2003 repeated the test
but with fMRI (no 67)
• Same results when participants were blinded.
• fMRI reflected same results in the ventral putamen:
stimulated when we find tastes appealing.
• Unblinded: 75% said they preferred Coke.
• fMRI: Ventral Putamen AND medial prefrontal cortex
(higher thinking and discernment)
• Positive Associations with Coke beat rational Pepsi
preference based solely on taste: history, logo, childhood
memories, ads over the years etc. Beat back the taste of
Now v Later
• Psychologists at Princeton Uni.
• Random students, gift voucher
• Choice between now at $15 or 2 weeks later
and $20
• fMRI: lateral prefrontal cortex (executive
decision making) triggered by both.
Emotion v thought
• But $15 now also
produced activity
inmost brains in the
Limbic areas
(emotional life and
memory formation).
• The more emotionally
excited they were the
more likely they were
to opt for the
immediate gift.
• Emotions won over
rational thoughts.
Advert Recall
• By 66y most people will
have seen 2 m TV
• 1965 34% recall
• 1990 8%
• 2007 survey 2.2
commercials recall
• Information overload
Product placement works
American Idol
Coke and Ford invested 26 million dollars on ads
Ford ran traditional ads
Coke used product placement: placed cups, Coke
red walls, furniture in the shape of bottles, judges
sipped coke on the show.
• Pre and post show EEG testing was done.
• Logo recall of Ford commercials was suppressed
Unboxing Video
• 2006
• Nintendo launches Wii
• Nick: recorded an opening the
box video
• 76000 views on YouTube in the
1st week alone.
• Spawned the rise of: &
• Aspirers
Cigarette Adverts & Subliminal
• Phillip Morris offers financial
incentives to fill bars with their colour
schemes, furnituer, ashtrays
• 20 smokers exposed to images with
• Explicit cig. ads: Nucleus Accumbens
(reward, pleasure, craving addiction).
• Non-explicit images (red Ferrari, camel
in desert, boys on horseback) upto
just 5 seconds: immediate and greater
activity in the same regions of the
brain as with watching expicit ads.
• Why? Decreased defence mechanisms
Subliminal effects
Prior to smoking advert bans
Silk Cut started to use image association ads
Without mention of anything.
Adverts with logos but without health
warnings were less powerful than ads with
logos and health warnings.
• Prob. bec more enticing.
Ritualistic behaviour
1990s Guiness sales were falling.
Because it took time for the head to settle.
Time was of importance.
Guiniess rolled out adds stating: ‘’Good things
come to those who wait”, “It takes 119.53 s to
pour a pefect pint”
• Sales were turned around.
• The art of pouring became an awaited ritual.
Somatic Makers
• Sound: Kellogs cornflakes crunch is engineered to be unique
• Shape: Duracell and bullet shaped batteries. men believed
they wee stronger and more durable but they were the
• Weight: Bang & Olufsen Remote Control a slab of Aluminium
is placed inside. 200 customers given one without Al. =>
• Colour: Egg yolks in Saudi – vitamin mixture to enhance
yellow colour because consumers associate colour with
• Smell: RTX9338PJS— code name for the just-cooked-baconcheeseburger-like fragrance used by fast-food restaurant
• fMRI : somatic markers activate the same areas of the brain
as a logo, but when combined with the appopriate logo do so
more intensely.
Nice but so what?
Our patients are consumers
Compliance is a major problem
Diet effectiveness at 2 years 1:3000
Lifestyle changes
Drs v PLCs
Disarming the PLCs
Dr awareness of technical sophistication of the