Juggling Work, Business & Life at Home – How can we deal with working remotely better in 2021?

How Neuroscience and Psychology Can Be Used to Improve Work Conditions in 2021 as People Work Remotely?

 

By now it is old news, how the pandemic has disrupted the norm of work. No one was prepared for the circumstances that were created as a result of COVID-19. The global economy took a nosedive, and many companies were forced to let go of a major part of their workforce and with there being restrictions on operating workplaces, the remaining employees were forced to work from home.

For the better part of last year, work from home has become the new norm. Both employees and companies have found unexpected benefits in the work remotely model. With that being said the remote work model is still experimental for both employees and employers. It takes time to adjust to change and when that change is so rapid and forced, it can have some serious consequences on our mindset.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very significant impact on the mindset of people who are working remotely. When you are working from home you are essentially isolated and with the social restrictions, the feeling of isolation becomes even stronger.

So, how is it affecting the mindset of people working remotely? It may look like that you are doing more by working from home since you are away from all the distractions that you would normally have to face in a conventional office. And that is true to some extent, but this isolation is also…

  • Reducing the volume of your prefrontal cortex. This is the area of your brain that is involved with socializing and decision-making.
  • Making your hippocampus smaller. This is the part of your brain that deals with memory and learning.
  • Affecting the size of your amygdala. This part of your brain controls your emotions.

As you might have been able to guess that none of these things are good. The collective effect of working remotely in isolation is a severe decrease in cognitive abilities and stress dealing capabilities. So, even though working from home has its perks, it also comes with some serious negatives.

But there is a way to deal with the negative effect that working from home might be having on your mental health. We can use psychology and neuroscience to improve our work conditions when working remotely. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you improve your work from home conditions with the help of psychology and neuroscience:

Dress For Your Job

Studies have shown that how we dress has a major impact on how we feel. This phenomenon is called “enclothed cognition”. Our neural pathways are linked to certain emotions depending on what we wear.

When you go to a conventional office, you have to adhere to a certain dress code but when you are working remotely you are free to work in your PJs. It might not be that good of a thing as you might imagine it to be. When you dress for work, you are putting your brain into work mode. So, if you wear a formal shirt when you go to the office doing the same when working remotely might increase your productivity and help you work more efficiently as opposed to working in your sleeping clothes.

There is a lack of disconnection between personal and professional life as there is no physical separation. This can affect your work conditions and your mindset negatively. So, dress for your job before sitting down to work.

Structure and Routine

Your routine and the structure of your day have a significant impact on your work conditions when working remotely. Research has shown that over/undersleeping and not having a fixed routine can decrease your cognitive functioning.

You see our brain tries to make patterns out of everything. This makes its job easier. When you wake up every day at 8 am your brain will automatically know that it needs to be ready by that time to work. But if you don’t have a fixed time to sleep or wake up, your brain will not be able to always be at its 100% for you.

Windows and Light

We have a deep connection with our immediate surroundings. When we are working remotely, our home is our office. The first thing that you need to take into consideration is where you should set up your desk.

Research has shown that the best way to set up your home office is to have your back against a wall and a view of the outside available to you. So, you want to set up your office near a window where there is plenty of light. Environmental psychology has shown that this can really improve the productivity of employees that are working from home.

One More Thought

It’s been over a year now that life has changed dramatically from how we remembered everything to be prior to the pandemic.  So, we need to do our best to maximize these new circumstances moving forward.

Working remotely comes with its own set of challenges and struggles but with the help of psychology and neuroscience, we can improve our work conditions dramatically. We just need to make slight adjustments and changes, but these types of changes can make a positive impact in all areas of our lives, both work and home since there is much more overlap now.

 

How is Neuroscience Used in Technology on Businesses?

The Impact of Neuroscience Used in Technology on Businesses

A big part of operating a business relies on being able to predict the future. Yes, whenever someone starts a business, and there is promise in the growth of the company, people start to invest in it. In many ways, the growth of a business is dependent on the idea of hope and belief. These human emotions are the driving factor for the success of businesses throughout the world.

You might say that there is a lot of data and statistics involved, and you are right. There is a lot of that involved, but what is the purpose of all the analysis and predictions? It just helps propagate hope in the people who are looking to invest in the company and reinforce their belief in the idea of the business. This has been the standard operating procedure for businesses, around the world, for decades and unknowingly corporations have relied on the basics of neuroscience to succeed.

Now, with the age of information and technology that we live in people have finally realized this hidden mechanic and have started to actively implement technology to help grow their businesses even further. In this article, we are going to take a look at how neuroscience is being applied in technology and how it is helping businesses grow. Let’s begin.

Applications of Neuroscience in business

There are 3 basic avenues where neuroscience is being applied to help businesses.

  1. To improve the bottom line – Profit is the biggest data point for any industry. Neuroscience is being used to help companies improve their bottom line by understanding the crucial moments and science of decision-making. Applied neuroscience can help gather data on certain scenarios and by using ECGs and eye-tracking technology the response of the human brain to each scenario can be recorded.

When you are in possession of such valuable data, you can use it to make the decision that will result in the most growth and the most profit for your organization. A study done by Harvard Business Review has shown that businesses that are using applied neuroscience in technology to make corporate decisions have a better bottom line than companies that are not using neuroscience actively.

 

  1. Understanding Consumers – The second biggest data point for any enterprise is its customers. Neuroscience has opened the door of the consumers’ minds for companies. Methods like fMRI, EEG, GSR, and eye-tracking can help businesses see how the consumer feels about their product and help them predict how those products are going to do.

This allows for some valuable insight into the mind of the consumer and gives businesses a chance to tweak their products just in the right way allowing for maximum engagement once the product is launched.

The activity of our brain is controlled by neuromodulators. These include hormones and neurotransmitters. These basically allow the brain cells to keep an open line of communication with one another. Research has shown that by stimulating certain neuromodulators you can alter the way a consumer interacts with your product.

The application of neuroscience to understand consumers has allowed businesses to come up with better products that appeal to the right neuromodulators in the brain. It has allowed for a better understanding of the brain of a consumer and what can be done to get the best response from it.

The implementation of AI has been a revelation in this regard, as it can read all of these data points that are being generated by neuroscientific methods, and give businesses a better solution for any problem that they are facing with a product.

 

  1. Improving Workplace Culture – The use of neuroscience in technology is not limited to marketing and sales. It also has a very significant application in improving the overall culture of the workplace. A study has shown that workplaces that use AI and neuroscience have a more productive culture.

The use of AI especially with the help of neuroscience methods such as ECG, EEG, and eye-tracking technology has allowed companies to identify the hidden subcultures in their workplace that are having a negative impact on the productivity of the employees. These problematic subcultures would not have come to the forefront had it not been for the use of neuroscience and AI.

The applications of neuroscience in technology for businesses are becoming more and more common. They can help improve employee satisfaction and productivity as AI is less likely to entertain biases and other human imperfections.

Although a lot of progress has been made in the field of neuroscience in technology for businesses there is still a long way to go. Considering the wonders that neuroscience has done up till now it is safe to assume that the future is going to bring in even more mind-blowing applications from the field of neuroscience.

Final Thoughts On The Future of Neuromarketing + Tech

So as neuroscience becomes more deeply integrated into technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these monumental advancements in allowing businesses to understand their consumers and employees better can lead to major breakthroughs in the growth of companies in all areas that were not possible prior to the rapid progression in the application of neuroscience to technologies that impact the business world.

The future of business looks exciting as the worlds of neuroscience intertwines with technology to deliver new and more intense experiences to people that will be beyond anything they have experienced before…

Want a clue?  Think Virtual Reality.

 

 

The Second Wave of COVID-19 – How Will It Affect The Behaviour of the Business Community?

COVID-19 has already changed the way we live and communicate!

It is essential to understand here that a pandemic such as COVID-19 is unprecedented in the modern history of mankind. The concept of social distancing has disrupted the way we conduct business. For some industries, it has brought activity to a complete standstill. Most businesses are struggling to survive, and many have gone under. Unfortunately, things might be about to take a turn for the worse with the rumours of the second wave of COVID-19 on the horizon.

When you invest a significant amount of time and money in a business, the stakes are really high, and a lot rides on that business to thrive and stay open. So, it is only natural that business owners are bearing the brunt of the stress, anxiety, depression and feeling of helplessness due to COVID-19. With revenues plummeting and uncertainty about the future of their livelihood(business), most business owners are not in a good place mentally. In this article, we are going to take a look at the effects that COVID-19 is having on the mental health of business owners.

Stress, anxiety, helplessness, a feeling of loss, social isolation and despair are common emotions right now that can be directly linked to COVID-19 among business owners. Let’s break down these emotions and see how they might be affecting the mental health of business owners.

  • Stress – A stressor is any form of stimulus that is causing us stress; in this case, it is the poor performance of your business due to COVID-19. When a stressor is received by our brain, it activates the glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline; these are stress hormones. The area of our brain that is responsible for this action is called the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Our adrenal glands secrete stress hormones. This is pretty standard stuff, this is how our body reacts to normal levels of stress, but when we experience chronic stress as someone might when a business, they opened with their life savings, shuts down due to COVID-19, our body starts to produce huge amounts of cortisol, more than it can effectively regulate.

This can lead to a huge number of problems. Abnormally high levels of cortisol produced due to stress can hinder the ability of our brain to function properly. It can cause issues with synapse regulation which then leads to anti-social behaviour where people start to avoid social interactions even on the telephone. It can cause apoptosis meaning that your brain cells start to die. In some cases, continuous chronic stress can even lead to the shrinking of the size of the brain. Memory and learning capabilities are also affected due to excess cortisol.

Anxiety – Our feelings are controlled by neurotransmitters. Dopamine and Serotonin are two of these neurotransmitters that are responsible for our anxiety levels and mood. The constant stress that a business owner is experiencing already can cause an imbalance of the neurotransmitters mentioned above, which can lead to conditions like generalized anxiety disorder. GAD can cause you to have trouble sleeping, feeling fatigued all the time, feeling twitchy, irritable and nervous.

  • Helplessness and depression – Loss of a business is a major life event and a significant trauma while we all experience a feeling of loss in our lives at one point or another, this situation is extraordinary. There is a culmination of all the different factors around us that are making us vulnerable to falling in depression. We are helpless since there is nothing that we can do about the pandemic, we are under a lot of stress due to the downfall in the revenue, and we are suffering from anxiety due to the uncertainty of the future.

All of these factors combined can lead us down the path of depression. At its core depression can be classified as a mood disorder. It affects the way we feel, behave and think. The imbalance of neurotransmitters and hormones in our body due to the constant stress and anxiety can play a major part in triggering depression. It may cause you to feel hopeless and sad all the time. It can affect your sleep cycle, and it can put someone in a less than ideal place mentally, physically and emotionally.

It would be fair to say that now is not an ideal time to be in business for many industries. The global economy is down, and due to safety restrictions, there is no possibility to have your business operate at 100% efficiency.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!

However, the one quality that all entrepreneurs have in common is their ability to be resilient during the most challenging times and showcase their creative energies to finding the best solutions to solving problems that will continue to move business and the economy in the right direction.

That being said, in order to be in a clear and stable state of mind and well-being to progress and grow despite the potential of a second wave around the corner, it is vital at this time to take care of all dimensions of your health and mitigate the impact of the pitfalls mentioned above that can have an adverse affect on personal well-being and business productivity as well.  Aim to stay positive, surround yourself with a strong network of family and friends who can be a foundation of social support.  And if you ever feel like you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Equally, it’s important to engage in physical activities to help clear the mind in addition to prioritizing your time by investing it with the people who are most important in your life.   Stay healthy, stay safe and remember that this will all get better.  Collectively, we stand UNITED and we will make it through this together and come out even stronger and better on the other side!

How Does the Lack of Sleep Affect Your Job Performance and Buying Behaviors?

Sleep Deprivation

In today’s fast-paced world, sleep has taken a back seat in the life of many career-oriented people. They either consider sleeping as a waste of time or neglecting sleep just to punch in those extra work hours seems like another step on the road to success to them. Scientific findings, however, contradict with this view entirely. Research on neuroscience of sleep has revealed adverse effects of sleep deprivation on our job performance as well as consumer behavior.

Here is your short guide to neuroscience of sleep and the effect it can have on our job performance and buying behavior.

Sleep Deprivation and Neuroscience

In simple words, sleep is a break time for your brain — to reset, re-program and recover. Information storage, toxin eradication, cell repair, reorganization of neurons to support optimal function of brain and regulation of hormones are some tasks that your brain works on during your sleep. A 2017 study, published in Journal of neuroscience, indicated towards the contribution of sleep to memory function. According to the study, neural activity during NREM sleep not only converts Short-term memory to long-term memory, but it also contributes to the decluttering of the nervous system by erasing of unimportant information.

Sleep deprivation can lead to impaired cognitive functioning: Attention, perhaps, is the cognitive domain that is most affected due to lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation results in decreased activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and IPS. These neural changes in the brain cause a decrease in attention span; whereas working memory also shows inconsistencies. Vigilance in performing any task as well as listening drops significantly. Reaction time is also affected.

While occasional all-nighters might not affect your work life to a great extent, a  sleep study done at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that consistent sleep deprivation leads to permanent brain damage due to loss of neurons.

Sleep Deprivation and Hormonal Imbalance

Insufficient sleep also has an impact on your hormones. It causes an imbalance in hormones that are related to hunger, stress and inulin. According to experts, sleep deprivation increases adrenal stress as well as thyroid hormone. It increases the THC that result in slowing down your metabolism and affects the activity of the thyroid, making you feel tired the whole time.

A sleep-deprived body is in a constant state of stress due to high levels of cortisol production. High cortisol level is linked to the production of melanin (the sleep hormones) and will affect your sleep in the coming days. This hormonal balance is the reason you can’t sleep after pulling an all-nighter, even though you feel tired.

Sleep Deprivation Affects your Performance at Work

Sleep deprivation has increased in the United States during recent years. Today an average person sleeps almost 1.5 hours less than an average American in the 1960s. Most people are getting less than 8 hours of sleep a day. This is even more common among the youngsters who are doing part-time jobs to support themselves through school. Lack of sleep affects their performance not only at school but also their job.

Attention and vigilance are essential requirements when you are working in Sales. A salesperson must be attentive towards the needs of the customer and vigilant to perform whatever task is at hand.  All these factors are affected gravely due to sleep deprivation and hence lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in the rate of work-related accidents.

The researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that the lack of sleep negatively affects your mood as well as the ability to focus for days to come. According to one research, sleep deprivation has a similar effect on your brain as alcohol. This means that working in such a condition would be similar to operating while intoxicated! Whereas a study done on a B2B sales employees showed that that Well-slept employees show more grit, job satisfaction and commitment to their work.

The hormonal imbalance that results from a lack of sleep is indirectly linked to our mood and how we feel. It can affect our behaviour at the job. A sleep deprived salesperson may feel, tired, moody and absent-minded, which can affect the sales process with customers.

So, the big takeaway here is for salespeople and workers (in general) to get in a fair amount of sleep (7-8 hours per day) so that they can operate at their peak.  Otherwise, severe cases of consistent sleep deprivation can lead to permanent loss of neurons and debilitating work efficiencies similar to someone under the impression of alcohol.  This type of behavior is certainly not something a person wants to display at their workplace.

Sleep Deprivation and Consumer Behavior

As much as, it affects your performance at work, lack of sleep also affects the decisions of the consumers. Though it is commonly expected that lack of sleep would decrease your urge to look for options, however, a study published in Journal of Marketing Research found that Customers who are sleepy look for more variety in their shopping endeavors. In an attempt to keep themselves awake, they sought variety.

A lot of research still needs to be done on the impact of sleep on consumer behavior. According to the researchers of this study, sleepiness might result in unintentional buying behavior and make the consumer less responsive to things like product size as well as discounts.

We are both workers and shoppers at the same time, so the importance of adequate sleep in contributing to healthy decision making cannot be overstated.   Therefore, sleeping at least 7-9 hours a night is essential if you want to succeed in the long run. It not only keeps your brain activity optimal but also keeps the body’s hormones in the balance!

The Neuroscience Behind Motivation – Got Glutamine?

Latest Discovery of Motivation!

Have you ever wondered how you are so motivated some of the days and on the others, you don’t feel like getting out of the bed?

Why is it that some people are driven by ambition and succeed more while others struggle repeatedly and fail?

Well, your answer lies in the science of motivation.

Whether it is passing an exam or building the house of your dreams, motivation is what leads you to success. It is one of the key factors for success, yet it is the hardest to maintain. Only if we knew a way to keep the level of motivation up for the longest time.

Don’t worry, science has got your back!

 

The Neuroscience of Motivation — The Inner workings of our Brain

 

Motivation originates in our brain and if only we knew how it works, we will have the ultimate key to success. This hope has led many scientists to spend their lives understanding the workings of our brains. A team of such scientists from EPFL and the University of Edinburgh’s embarked on this journey to understand motivated behavior. The article was published in the July issue of the renowned scientific journal, “Nature Neuropsychopharmacology”.

They targeted a small region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens or NAcc. Located on the basal forebrain, NAcc is known to play an important role in functions like reinforcement, reward, aversion, and motivation.

The scientists at EPLP applied neuromarketing techniques to find out how accumbal (related to NAcc) metabolite levels affect the motivation to perform. They designed a force task with a monetary incentive. Basically, the participants were supposed to squeeze a dynamometer — a force measuring device. Depending on the effort they make to squeeze, the participants would be rewarded with different monetary sums.  The process was to be repeated 120 times consecutively, making it hard to keep up with the performance. The experiment was done under two conditions: isolation and competition, to see if the competition had a greater impact on performance.

The scientist studied the levels of glutamine (Gln), glutamate (Glu), Gaba, and their ratio to see how they affect the motivation to perform an effort based task.  Glutamine is a precursor to the glutamate and Gaba amino acids. Glutamate and Gaba are neurotransmitters responsible for excitation and inhibition of chemical signals in the brain, respectively. These neurotransmitters affect concentration, focus, mood, alertness, and consequently, motivation.

Their findings of the study done by the teams from EPLP and University of Edinburgh are listed below:

  •  Our motivation to perform a certain task is positively linked to the ratio of Gln-to-Glu in the NAcc.  Gln to Glu ratio is also linked to stamina needed to perform a task. The higher ratio has a positive effect on stamina.

 

  •  Competition boosts our initial performance, particularly if we have low Gln-to-Glu levels.

 

  •  In simpler words, you tend to perform better and stay motivated for a longer time if the accumbal glutamine to glutamate ratio is higher.

 

The role of Glutamine in Motivation

 

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid that also acts as the main precursor to produce neurotransmitter glutamate and GABA in the brain. It is the most abundant amino acid in our body, whereas in the brain glutamate is found in higher concentration.

The balance between glutamine and glutamate holds the key to optimized brain activity. It is essential for healthy brain activity.

A study done on mice, in Korea, revealed that a decrease in levels of glutamate and glutamine led to immobility and reduced fondness for sugar. A clear sign of reduced motivation and depression.

As soon as the glutamine levels were increased through direct infusion, the mice were back to normal. High glutamine levels fill you with energy. You become more energetic and motivated.

 When your glutamine level is lower, you may be filled with fear, worry, and anxiety leading to loss of motivation, and drive to accomplish your goals. 

People with lower glutamine levels usually try to find peace in alcohol, carb-rich foods, and drugs. That is why whenever you are feeling low you gulp down an entire box of cookies and ice cream!

 

How to increase your motivation, naturally!

By now, it is established high glutamine levels and high Gln-to-Glu ratio play a vital role in improving your motivation level. Here are some tips to increase glutamine and hence Gln-to-Glu ratio in your brain.

 

  1. Eat food containing glutamine:

Food containing a higher amount of protein is also abundant in glutamine. Meat and fish are considered to be the richest sources of glutamine. Milk and eggs also contain glutamine.  

Whey protein and energy drinks are also important sources to get your glutamine from!

 If you are a vegetarian or vegan: Nuts, cabbage (especially red cabbage), and beans are all great sources of glutamine.

 

  1. Glutamine supplements:

Usually, we don’t get enough glutamine from the food we consume. Adding nootropic stack can boost your cognition and mental state. Experts recommend 2 to 5 grams of glutamine dosage per day.

 

Of course there are other factors and neurotransmitters that contribute to motivation, however, for this discussion we wanted to put the spotlight on the role that glutamine and glutamate plays in regulating motivation.

    

 

Oxytocin – The Love or Hate Neurotrasmitter

Everyone has heard of the saying “Friend or Foe”, but is it possible that both ends of the dichotomy can be caused by the same thing?

With all the social unrest that is happening around the world, this “Us vs Them” mentality has never been more profound than what we are experiencing today.

People from all different backgrounds, interests, and skin color are standing up for their rights in their fight for equality.  

So, on a neurological level, exactly what is happening inside the brains of these people who have pledged allegiance in their mission to voice their opinion for equality?

And…

What does all of this have to do with marketing your brand at a time where there’s so much chaos?

In order to answer this question, let me introduce to you our mystery friend (or foe?) called oxytocin.    

Now, oxytocin is quite a complicated character.   It can be a real driver of positive social behaviors that’s rooted in trust, empathy and generosity.  However,  at the same time oxytocin can contribute to the total opposite where individuals experience loneliness and social separation.

For example – in a study that looked at the role of oxytocin in maternal bonding by Bar-IIan University, the team of psychologists headed by Ruth Feldman, PhD, found that women who had higher levels of oxytocin throughout their entire pregnancy had greater bonding with their babies by developing a more exclusive relationship with them by signing special songs, bathing and feeding their infants in caring ways.

Based on this study, it would be logical to say that high levels of oxytocin is a big contributor to social bonding, whereas low levels of oxytocin is associated with social separation.

But going back to what we said about oxytocin – it is a complicated character or in this case, a complicated neurotransmitter in the brain and body.  This is because oxytocin does not act alone in contributing to an individual’s social behavior.

Enter the hormone – Cortisol

In situations where there is a lot of stress and tension, levels of cortisol are higher than normal.  This is the case in fight or flight circumstances. 

Going back to oxytocin, it’s fascinating to find that levels of this neurotransmitter are also higher than normal during stressful times.

So, the most important takeaway here is that the type of social situation that a person is participating in will impact the levels of both oxytocin and cortisol.

In moments where tension and stress is high, both oxytocin and cortisol levels are high.  This usually leads to greater in-group affinity but at the cost of seeing all outsiders as a threat who do not share the same viewpoints on a specific topic.

So, even though there is great in-group affinity but reduced empathy for outsiders, the results is an “Us Vs. Them” mentality and this is what we are seeing with all the equality clashes among the groups of different perspectives on the social issues in today’s times

HOWEVER…

Social bonding that involves high levels of oxytocin can still take place in a healthy way in social situations that make the individual feel safe.  This occurs in what we call “Tend and Befriend” situations where stress and tension levels are low, so that the environment fosters the formation of trust, empathy and generosity between people.  

This is the type of social situation that we want to create in society and in marketing!

In both examples above, the levels of oxytocin are higher than normal, but due to the type of social situation (whether it’s a “Fight-or-Flight” situation or “Tend and Befriend” situation), this is a major variable will impact the level of the stress hormone, Cortisol, all of which will either contribute to feelings of social separation or social bonding.

So, as NEUROmarketers – We want to create marketing messages that associates our brand with the “Tend and Befriend” type of emotions and thinking.  

This way, we can create the most loyal tribe of customers that will look at your brand as the ultimate solution to their problems especially in a world where there is an overwhelming pool of choices to pick from.

This is why it’s so important to understand the role of oxytocin and its connection to cortisol and the type of social situation that impacts an individual’s social behavior.  

Ultimately, you want your brand to be strongly associated with positive social behavior that results in feelings of trust, in-group belonging, exclusivity, status, and uniqueness but also respects the beauty in diversity as well. 

 

 

3 Best Neuromarketing Tools and Techniques

Neuromarketing is an exciting new field that is gaining traction. In this blog post we will provide an introduction to some of these neuromarketing techniques.  

The neuromarketing techniques fall into 2 main categories:  Biometrics and Neurometric.

Biometrics techniques measure physical changes in people.  Whereas neurometric techniques study bloodflow or neural activities in the brain. 

Some common biometric measurements involve eye tracking, facial and voice tone recognition, and changes in heart rate and perspiration within an individual.  We will go into these biometric techniques in greater detail in future blog posts.

But today, our focus will be diving into some of the commonly used neurometric techniques found in neuromarketing that primarily involves studying the blood flow and electrical activities in the brain. 

Some of the neurometric techniques that we will explore are the following:

  1.  EEG
  2. FMRI
  3. MEG

1)   Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a technique that analyzes brain electricity, which is registered by a headband or cap that is placed over the head. This method detects changes in the brain wave pattern of the individual. 

EEG measures different frequencies of electrical activity moving along the surface of the brain which relates to different emotional states and cognitive processes. 

2)  Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) testing involves placing an individual  inside of an MRI machine that has powerful magnet and radiowaves. The subject lies down on the table and slides in head first into the MRI machine. The head has to be still to prevent blurring or brain images. 

FMRI  measures changes in the brain’s flow to visualize the consumer behavior processes. Regions that are more active within the brain consume more oxygen, so by measuring the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the brain, important data can be discovered on what regions of the brain are most activated when an individual is viewing an advertisement, for example.

Overall, FMRI can highlight areas in the brain that are activated which can play a role in certain deducing the emotional state of the individual as their brain responds to the advertising content that they are viewing.  

3) Magneto-encephalograpy (MEG) measures magnetic activities in that it uses a helmet that contains hundreds of sensors. The subject sits upright in the MEG machine. It detects changes in the magnetic field  created by electrical activity in the brain. MEG is good at measuring real time responses on the surface of the brain.  

These 3 neurometric techniques can help companies gain a better understanding of consumer behaviour at both a conscious and nonconscious level, which plays a significant role in helping companies understand how their consumers respond to their brand on a deep primal level.

Take the Guesswork out of your marketing

Happy Buying Brain can help take your marketing to a whole new level and one of the ways is understanding what is really going on in your customer’s brain on a primal level. 

This way, you can truly understand the underlying processes that are happening inside of your customer’s mind that are heavily influencing their purchasing decisions and turn your brand into the #1 Top of Mind Choice for your consumers.

To get a quick snapshot of what these strategies would look like for your business, contact us at 780-977-2313 or felix@happybuyingbrain.com

 

Empty Shelves, Why Panic?

It’s NOT an ordinary day at the supermarket. 

But, this may sound all too familiar to many of us over the last few days… 

For some reason that you can’t explain, your heart is racing a little faster than usual and your breathing begins to pick up as you pull into the parking lot.  You even feel a slight tension in your muscles and you wonder what is going on with your body as though it has developed a mind of its own.

Typically, going shopping for groceries is a relaxing and enjoyable time, but this time it seems to be different.

Moving at a quick pace with the shopping cart in hand while entering the entrance, your significant other asks you “What’s the hurry, hun?”.

But you’re unable to answer because you yourself are unsure of exactly what is going on with this frantic change of pace.  So, you carry on with your significant other a few steps behind, trying to keep up with you as they scratch their head in confusion.

Aisle 1 – nope not this one.  Aisle 2 – dog food, no thanks.  Aisle 3 – Chocolates and sweets, a little better but not quite.  So, you continue to push forward pass the next few aisles, but you notice something strange as you pass each aisle.  

At aisle 1, it was only you.  But now you see several shoppers moving not only in the same direction that you’re heading in, but they too are moving at a pace that’s similarly fast just like you are.  Could they be thinking the same thing too?

Fear kicks in and you begin to feel some worrying. 

In your mind, you say to yourself “What happens if it’s no longer there?”

You don’t want to take the chance, so you turn into a guided projectile, cranking up your walking speed to turbo mode as you’re now on a mission to get to aisle 9, where your target is located.  

By now, your heart rate and breathing are accelerating as though you just came from the gym, your palms are sweating from tightly gripping onto the cart as you thrust your way in between the other shoppers to get to where you need to to go.   Looking back, your significant other is chasing you and you can hear their rapid footsteps trailing behind.

Your fear turns into anxiety as more shoppers join the stream of people making their way towards aisle 9 and you can now see a small crowd gathering just outside the aisle.

At this point, your anxiety is at an all time high as uncertainty fills your mind.

The sight of seeing everyone around you thinking and doing the same thing as you confirms that they all have the same thing on their minds as yourself.

Adrenaline levels spike.  Heart is pounding at a million miles an hour.  Breathing getting out of control. More sweating.  Muscles are tense. And finally, you even feel dizziness and you can notice yourself shaking. 

That’s when you realize PANIC HAS STRUCK! 

As your significant other catches up to you, they ask “Are we really going to die if we don’t get toilet paper?”

You turn to them and respond “I can’t imagine life without it.”

Then something magical happens as the both of you look into each other’s eyes and think the same thing “What just happened?”

So, let’s explore this mystical question:

The steps that occur to create panic can be summed up in the following 2 emotional responses to a perceived threatening situation for an individual: 

1) Fear + Uncertainty = Anxiety 

2) Social contagion + Anxiety = Panic

When panic kicks in, the neocortex – which is the logical part of the brain, turns off. 

Conditions that create panic are the feelings of loss of control, extreme worrying about the unknowns of the future, herd mentality & scarcity, all of which triggers the fight or flight response in the primal brain because the body is physically preparing to combat the perceived threatening situation since the person sees that they are in danger (even if there are no real dangers present) and that their survival, safety, and security is in jeopardy.

So, this turns off the neocortex. 

This means that instead of using the logical part of the brain to reason and plan what is the best thing to do, the primal brain takes over and makes the individual display primal survival responses that are automatic reflex reactions to the current stressful situation.  This is what causes the individual to engage in illogical behaviours, such as what you see during panic buying of toilet paper, for example.  

The cycle of panic buying is further positively reinforced as they see other people panicking, since humans look to other people and their environmental cues on how to act, especially during times of uncertainty. 

Take the Guesswork out of your marketing

Happy Buying Brain can help take your marketing to a whole new level and one of the ways is understanding what is really going on in your customer’s brain on a primal level. 

This way, you can truly understand the underlying processes that are happening inside of your customer’s mind that are heavily influencing their purchasing decisions and turn your brand into the #1 Top of Mind Choice for your consumers.

To get a quick snapshot of what these strategies would look like for your business, contact us at 780-977-2313 or felix@happybuyingbrain.com

 

Dopamine – Its Role in Pleasure & Buying

Let’s talk about brain chemistry!  You’re probably thinking how is chemistry even related to the world of marketing.  In fact, these two disciplines appear to be polar opposites of each other, since chemistry is from the realm of science and marketing has more to do with business and sales. 

But when they come together, the value that they create is immense especially when it comes to giving a greater sense of clarity of what is going on in the brain’s of customers when they are exposed to marketing stimuli.

Quick Crash Course on Brain Chemistry

Today, we are going to talk about one very important brain chemical, better known as neurotransmitters, that is responsible for influencing consumer’s mood and their buying behaviors.  A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that allows neurons in the body to communicate with each other. Through these exchanges in communication, it also impacts our state of mind in terms of mood, feelings and perceptions, which ultimately can influence our everyday behaviors.

The neurotransmitter we will explore is called dopamine.  This neurotransmitter can be seen as the “happiness or feel good” chemical in the brain.  One of the main goals of neuromarketers is to create messaging and strategies that triggers the release of this crucial neurotransmitter in their customer’s brain to enhance brand loyalty and to create repeat buying/engaging behaviors in their customers.

Bringing it back in time (Way back!)

To understand why dopamine is important to helping a business build brand loyalty and influencing their customer’s buying decision, we need to explore the important roles this neurotransmitter played in the brains of our evolutionary ancestors.

In the cavemen days, survival was the top priority for our ancestors.  This came in the form of having enough resources to avoid starvation, which meant doing whatever it took to secure food as the #1 priority.  

So, dopamine would be released in our ancestor’s brains when they got hungry.  The role of dopamine was to motivate our ancestors to seek and secure food for their families.  The anticipation and reward of acquiring food resulted in a further release of dopamine, which increases the chances of survival for our ancestors in a time when food was generally scarce due to their nomadic lifestyle.   To close the cycle, dopamine is also released when a goal is accomplished, especially in the case when the hunter has secured a food source and after a meal has been finished eaten.  

The ultimate result of this dopamine cycle on survival was the repeated behavior of securing resources so that the primitive need of having enough food provided the best opportunity for survival.  Dopamine creates a positive feedback loop where the repeated behavior of hunting enhances the chances of avoiding starvation and favoring the individuals who participate in food securing activities consistently.   In this respect, dopamine is recognized as the motivation and reward neurotransmitter in the brain.

So How Does Dopamine apply to Marketing?

Even though there have been continuous innovations in the distribution channels of marketing, the one thing that has remained constant is how our brains work.  

Today, making sure we have enough food to survive is not a main priority for many, since food is often a readily available commodity.  Instead of getting our dopamine hit from hunting – In the world of marketing, the release of dopamine in customer’s brains is often associated with finding the most creative ways to influence their consumer’s shopping behaviors.  

So, as neuromarketers, we want to tap into the same neural circuitries that influenced our ancestor’s drive to repeatedly want to secure food, but in marketing, we now want to trigger activity in the same neural network with activities that are related to buying.  

Instead of repeated behaviors of securing food, our goal is now to instill repeated behaviors of buying services and products from businesses.   So, if your business is able to provide the best customer experience, then this will lead to continual release of dopamine in your customer’s brains, which encourages them to become repeat customers of yours and helps cement the brand loyalty your customers have with your business.

The primary goal here is to create positive associations of reward, goal fulfillment, motivation, between your products or services that your customers experience everyday to your brand to help them achieve the ideal version of themselves.

Here are some ways this can be done:

Free Samples & Free Trials – Offering free samples or free trials is a fantastic way to trigger a large dopamine release in your customer’s brains.  This effect becomes even more powerful if businesses are able to offer free samples or free trials that are novel, since the combination of receiving an immediate reward coupled with the curiosity and anticipation of discovering the nuances of the free offerings taps into the primitive impulsive survival instincts to want things now as well as engages the brain’s pleasure system to start releasing dopamine in response to receiving the easily accessible and novel free samples and free trials.

Use messaging that focuses on primitive instincts of survival –  This can be extremely powerful in creating the tagline for a business to make their brand as memorable as possible to their audience.  One example is capitalizing on the scarcity of food. The fast food chain, Wendy’s, did an excellent job doing this in their 1984 commercial where they created the catchphrase “Where’s the Beef?”, which taps into the roots of survival instincts of making sure you secure enough food to survive.  

“Where’s the beef?” has become one of the most well known and recognized catchphrases in the advertising world and the general public instantly associates this memorable maxim to the Wendy’s brand.

Mobile marketing – The use of smartphones and mobile devices have penetrated all aspects of our lives over the last decade.  It’s a way for us to stay more connected as well as make our lives more convenient and efficient in terms of executing daily tasks in both life and work. 

So, one way that businesses can keep their brands top of mind is by implementing a strong mobile marketing strategy that focuses on push notifications to keep their audience in the loop of new offerings and customized updates that relates their customer’s needs.  

Every time, a customer receives a new push notification, this is a pattern interruption to their daily lives which sparks the release of dopamine, but it also creates a sense of curiosity and anticipation for the customer to check to see what the push notification is about, which triggers a further release of dopamine.  And finally, when the customer has read the push notification, the feeling of finishing the goal of checking it gives the customer another shot of dopamine.  

Rise of Artificial intelligence (AI) –  As people’s expectations to experience things are getting much shorter, this also means that they want not only products and services delivered sooner than ever, but this also translates into the world of customer support and help they expect from businesses to provide in answering and solving their problems.  

Moving into 2020 and into this new decade, the use of artificial intelligence to handle this large volume of customers expecting real-time customer support from companies will be incredibly important in creating the best experience for customers and making the brand as the top of mind choice in their industry.

The rise of chatbots is one powerful solution to handling the demands of providing the best customer support service for business in the most efficient way.  Chatbots are immediately available to provide support to customers, and they are available 24/7 for 365 days of the year with no limitation on the number of chatbots that can be active at any point in time to handle large spikes in customer demands as quickly as possible.  

The results of using chatbots as a core part of a business’s customer support system means that customers receive fast and effective solutions to their concerns and problems, eliminating  barriers, such as uncertainty and anxiety, that minimize purchasing behaviors.  

Instead, chatbots brings customers one step closer to buying since they help remove these negative barriers, which means that customers are more motivated and excited to buy your product or service and reap the rewards that your business offers, all of which are activities that trigger dopamine release in your customer’s brains.

Conclusion

It’s critical to understand the importance that dopamine plays in your customer’s buying behavior, since this will give you a much more granular approach to identify whether your messaging and marketing strategies are working optimally to trigger the release of this neurotransmitter in your consumer’s brains.  

This means that you can start being microscopic along every point of your marketing path to make the changes at the points where the triggering of the release of dopamine in your customer’s brain would have the greatest impact on their decision to buy from you in a repeated fashion.  

Being able to purposefully trigger the release of dopamine also helps to capture new customer’s attention so that they become aware of your products and services and consider buying what you are offering over your competitors, as well as building a loyal customer base for exploding your brand awareness in the marketplace.

Take the Guesswork out of your marketing

Happy Buying Brain can help take your marketing to a whole new level and one of the ways is showing you how to implement the strategies we talked about above that trigger dopamine at tactical points in your marketing to get the maximum impact in your customer’s brains so that they choose to buy from you instead of from your competitors.  

To get a quick snapshot of what these strategies would look like for your business, contact us at 780-977-2313 or felix@happybuyingbrain.com

 

Your Brain on Black Friday

It’s Complete Chaos! 

People are crashing the door in droves, barely able to fit into the entrance of the store, as the scenery resembles that of a game of leap frog with shoppers looking to do whatever to takes to race and grab the items that are on sale on this particular day!

A $20 waffle maker that’s half off?  Or an 60 inch HDTV that’s on sale for less than a microwave?  It DOESN’T matter!

The demand and popularity of the items are all the same, regardless of what it is and one of the few days of the year when this does occur is on one of the biggest shopping days of the year – BLACK FRIDAY!

So, what’s really going on here?

How’s it even possible to get seemingly logical shoppers all crazed up about a half off $20 waffle maker to the point where you can find videos on Youtube of shoppers getting into shoving matches and even fist fights to secure these everyday products as though they were limited edition luxury items?

To answer this question, we need to look at some of the neuromarketing strategies that are at work of driving up the demand of everyday items to the elevated level that influences gigantic crowds to line up outside of the store hours before it even opens, which then leads to the shopping rush that ensues once the doors open.

The first step is understanding what are cognitive biases?

Simply put, a cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of thinking, operating at the subconscious level in the primal brain, that can result in decision making that deviates from logical thinking.

That can explain why you see videos of mayhem as large crowds of shoppers race frantically to grab everyday affordable items as though they were limited edition luxury items.

So, let’s look at a few of these cognitive biases that businesses can use to boost their sales on Black Friday:

1 – Loss Aversion Bias

This is just another fancy way of saying “Fear Of Missing Out” or FOMO.

This cognitive bias refers to the phenomena that humans are primitively hardwired to be much more averse to losing something compared to the potential of gaining something of equal value.  In other words, the pain experienced of losing something greatly outweighs the pleasure of gaining that same thing for most people.

FOMO is a highly used neuromarketing strategy by lots of businesses on Black Friday.  It often shows up in the form of offering free trials, limited -time offers, and implementing the scarcity tactic of offering the item in a limited quantity.  If a business can combine all these variables together, then this will make this neuromarketing strategy much more powerful.

On Black Friday, the Fear of Missing Out on a fantastic deal is one big reason why crowds of people line up for hours outside of stores and fight over  products that they can usually buy the next day without breaking their bank and going through all the mayhem on that day.

2 – Bandwagon Bias

Humans like to have the security of knowing that they’ve made the right choices in life, and this is particularly relevant when it comes to making the correct shopping choices as well.

Most often, a powerful indicator that an individual uses to come to this conclusion is by looking at the people around them to see if others are doing the same things that they are doing.

So, when a person sees hundreds of people lining up outside of a store before opening hours, especially if it’s their friends and family that are willing to do this, then people are more likely to jump on the bandwagon and imitate the behavior of the crowd.

The perception becomes:  If everyone is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do.

For businesses, creating the bandwagon effect will create a strong demand and heightened popularity for their products and services.  This can lead to a burst of costumer sales and if done properly, can also result in an increase conversion of loyal customers and repeat sales in the future.

3 – The Reciprocity Bias

So Black Friday is already full of unbelievable deals.  But what can you do to even further stand out from your competitors in the minds of your customers?

Implement the reciprocity neuromarketing strategy.

Businesses can do this in 2 ways:

The First way to to offer a free sample leading up to Black Friday.  This will prime your customers to see the value of shopping at your business when they receive something tangible.  The free sample provides a memorable experience where some customers will want to reciprocate the kind gesture by choosing to shop at your business over your competitors.

The second way is to offer a free bonus gift as a special reward for shopping at your business.  Who doesn’t love a free gift as an extra perk for buying something?

Most people certainly appreciate this kind of effort from businesses.  It makes the customer feel extra special as well.  As a result, when the customer becomes sales-ready in the future, they will think about you before any other business.

So, by offering free samples or free bonus gifts to customers, a business can position themselves as the “Top of mind” choice.

This is super important in becoming an industry leader since the primal brain of your customers do not like to be taxed with the extra work of thinking too much when making choices, so by being the first to come to mind solution gives your business a big advantage.

These are just a few of the neuromarketing strategies that you can apply to your business today to boost sales.

But, if you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you really supercharge your marketing campaigns with creative neuromarketing strategies and eliminate the guess work out of the process, contact us today!

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