Neuromarketing study: Advertising in New-York

Our team of specialist is always exploring around the globe. This time they stopped in the heart of the United States of America, in New-York City. They used this time abroad to analyze how neuromarketing is used in advertising in the Big Apple.

Research process

To be able to analyze the neuromarketing triggers used in the advertising in the city of New York our specialists went in the field. They went across the city and gathered the precious data to be analyzed. We analyzed 176 ads across three categories: billboards (40,9 %), out of home screens (37,5%) online (17%) and transportation (4,5%).

Our study uses a neuromarketing framework developed by author Sally Hogshead. Each advertising visual is categorized with a system of 7 triggers. To unleash its full potential and emotionally connect with consumers, each ad should have both a primary and secondary trigger. By doing so, the advertising message has a special depth that creates fascination in the viewer’s mind. The 7 fascination triggers are:

  • Power: take command.
  • Passion: attract with emotion.
  • Mystique: arouse curiosity.
  • Prestige: increase respect.
  • Alarm: create urgency.
  • Innovation/Rebellion: change the game.
  • Trust: build loyalty.
  • The results

    Main Trigger
    The main trigger that is used the most in New York for advertising is”Alert” (22,2%). The goal of this trigger is to create a sense of urgency in the viewer’s brain. It’s interesting to note that in a previous study that we did in Bangkok “Alert” was also the most used primary trigger with a similar percentage (21,6%).

    The second most used primary trigger is “Passion”  (15,9%). By using this neuromarketing trigger advertisers want to fascinate the viewer by using strong emotions. Here again the results are quite similar with what is done on the other side in the world in Bangkok. There the second most used primary trigger was also “Passion” and again in similar proportions (16,8%).

    What is especially interesting is the third most used primary trigger: “Power” (12,3%). By using this trigger marketers try to fascinate the viewership by using authority. The difference between New York and Bangkok is really felt in this third most used trigger. In Bangkok “Trust” was used in the third place.

    Secondary Trigger
    More than half of the ads (57,4%) analyzed didn’t have a secondary trigger. What this means is that most ads are monotonal and speak only with one voice. They don’t use the power of human communication. These ads are too bland to create a really strong fascination in the viewership.

    The most used secondary trigger is ”Passion” (9,1%). The second position is for the triggers “Alert” and “Power” both with 6,8%.

    A set of common beliefs

    Our team or researchers were astonished to see that the main uses triggers are similar between two extremely opposites cities and cultures like Western and Eastern. Does it mean that there is a common trend between marketers worldwide? We will be able to answer this question with data as we will publish more and more of these studies as we work in different countries.

    For now we can only share our opinion on that subject. Many marketeers have this belief that they need to create a sense of urgency to sell more. Of course it is true that a sense of urgency is a good tool to bring customers to the purchase decision. But it’s far from being the only one. But it’s maybe the easiest neuromarketing trigger to understand and implement.

    In a world where strong personal relationships count and people usually have their four to five favourite brands there is an obvious opportunity for brands to establish a stronger connection with customers. By using other triggers than the most intensively applied they can make a visible difference and strive for a long term relationship. To make this happen a transversal approach is needed where the entire media mix is aligned with the intended brand identity.

    For the notion of “Passion” here again it’s a common belief that is expressed by the usage of this trigger. Every brand, manager, CEO wants to create strong emotions. But in a world where everyone tries to convince by showing how happy people are is it not more convincing to use another trigger? When every ad is smiling at you isn’t it making advertising look faker?

    The fascination of leadership

    As we have shown before, apart from the classical “Alert” and “Passion” triggers in New York “Power” is used in a big proportion. This notion of leading with command is something that we can see as being embedded in the American culture. As a country the United States are often seen and promoted as the leader of the free world. This cultural aspect is used by marketers when they use the “Power” neuromarketing trigger. It’s interesting to see that in the Thai culture this “Power” trigger is one of the least used by marketers.

    Beyond the data: the impact of 9/11

    When our researchers were gathering the data they were impressed by the impact of 9/11 and terrorism in general on advertising. They were also interested by how marketers create advertisements around the idea that people should inform the police about possible threats or abuse that have taken place in their life.

    Of course there are ads that use “Alert” to bring these messages to the crowd. But often ads asking people to report threats don’t use “Alert” as their primary trigger but rather “Passion”. Then as secondary trigger they use “Alert”. We can see that as a wish to not scare the public too much by making these messages less frightening at the first glance. When the viewer is attracted they use “Alert” as a secondary trigger to convey the notion of urgency so that people report the unwanted behaviors more rapidly.

    More about neuromarketing

    As mentioned in this article, we have already delivered a similar study but for the city of Bangkok in Thailand. It is definitely interesting to compare these two cities that are on two far away positions in the globe and with really different cultures.

    Our lab also did a research for the Swiss Market that analyzes the neuromarketing triggers and 59 other control points.

    This study called the Full Potential Marketing Study 2016 is available for download.

    Know your competition

    It is important to know the context in which you will advertise. If you know how marketers in general use neuromarketing and more specifically your competitors you can adapt your message. You can either adapt it to stick with the crowd or pop out of the crowd.

    Our specialists are here to help you to find the insights that will make your advertising outperform with neuromarketing.