Effects of ad on in-store behaviour – underlying physiology and brain processes

 In attention, emotion, eye-tracking, in-store, motivation, neuromarketing, unconscious

What is the effect of an ad on in-store behaviour? What underlies any changes in choice?

In an upcoming presentation at the annual EMACS conference, we are presenting a new study that we have recently conducted (the manuscript is also currently in journal review).

By showing ads prior to in-store tasks, we found that both 15- and 30-seconds ads had a significant effect on actual in-store choice. When choosing paint, prior exposure to a paint ad ramped up the sales from 78% to 91% and 100% for the 15-seconds and 30-seconds ad, respectively (see figure).

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 02.16.19


Interestingly, a careful stepwise debriefing interview after the in-store trial showed that customers were unaware that they had been exposed to the ad. Even when they were shown the ad again, they denied that it would in fact have any effect on their choice.

In our study, we used mobile eye-tracking and EEG to assess customers’ visual attention, emotional engagement and motivation. Here, we make two core observations:

  • Despite the self reports, customers that were exposed to the paint ad, spent significantly more time exploring the shelves than those that had not been exposed to the ad (see figure)
  • The ad effect was associated with a significantly higher motivation score, as assessed by the asymmetric engagement of the frontal parts of the brain.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 02.22.04

Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ads CAN indeed have an effect of in-store behaviour, and that the actual persuasion process can only be assessed through applied neuroscience, not by self reports. This also hints at the possibility of testing other kinds of communication prior to store visits, including tabs, outdoor banners and store entrances. With this publication, we now have protocols for addressing exactly these challenges.

The conference paper can be found here (PDF, sorry for the wrong link initially)

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