The three brains of neuromarketing

In little more than a century, since its formal definition at the beginning of the 20th century, marketing has undergone an evolution that has little or nothing to envy other important disciplines of contemporary civilization. And talking about neuromarketing is, without a doubt, a clear example of this. Although unknown to most, neuromarketing in sales has established itself, in recent years, as one of the best ways to generate impact and establish solid and lasting relationships with our clients.

There is a phrase from Philip Kotler, considered one of the fathers of modern marketing, that helps us understand the importance of marketing: «The successful salesperson cares first about the customer, then about the products«, And we are talking about a person who has an enormous level of knowledge about the human being, as evidenced by his enormous and admirable curriculum in which we can highlight, in this regard, his post-doctoral work in behavioral sciences. at the University of Chicago.

And it is that, against a widespread belief, marketing has a lot of science. Science both in the definition of its own processes, as in data analysis and in the use of techniques and knowledge from other scientific disciplines, which are incorporated into the day-to-day planning of campaigns, the design of brand images, etc., in order to achieve not only the greatest impact, but also the most positive for its recipients.

The three brains

Back in the sixties of the last century, the American physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean presented the theory of the triune brain, a model that states that the vertebrate brain is divided into three physically separate brains, each with specific functions, but acting in unison. These three brains also mark the level of evolution, with a first primitive brain, a second more evolved, and the third, responsible for our current level of cognitive development.

The oldest, the vestige of what we were in our origins, would be the reptilian brain, formed by the brainstem and cerebellum, and is also identified as an R-complex. Its function, within the framework of the triune brain theory, is to maintain our vital functions (both voluntary and involuntary), manage instincts and, therefore, determine behavior. In other words, what we can see in practically all forms of life.

The second brain is the limbic system, which MacLean called “old brain.” It is made up of the amygdala, the hypothalamus and the hippocampus. In it we find the management of emotions and social relationships, in addition to managing memory. Here we already find elements that are not present in the most basic forms of life, but are present in others that, still evolved, are below the cognitive level of the most intelligent species.

And finally we have the neocortex or neocortex, an element unique to mammals, and who is responsible for functions such as language, reasoning and complex thinking. This is the third layer, or third brain, and is responsible for the level of sophistication of our cognitive processes.

The three brains of neuromarketing

The three brains and neuromarketing

Each of the three brains defined by MacLean has different functions, from which we can deduce that the stimuli to which they respond are also different. With this established premise, we already have an advantageous condition when planning a marketing action, that is, applying neuroscience to our workbench. However, it is essential to have identified the kind of impulse to which each of the three brains responds, in order to know how to appeal to it in the circumstances and in the appropriate way.

Reptilian brain: As we have already indicated before, it responds to instincts, seeks protection and security and, therefore, responds positively to any proposal in this regard. From an umbrella on a rainy day to a sophisticated alarm system for our home, all the products and services aimed at protecting us from eventualities that can endanger us (ourselves or our loved ones).

Given, in addition, that it is also responsible for impulses, another way to appeal to the reptilian brain is special promotions, offers, discounts, and so on. The impulse, although it can be reasonably induced, is still involuntary, so appealing to it can make an important difference.

Limbic system: sensations and emotions depend on it. Just with this, you can already imagine how crucial their role in neuromarketing is. There has been, for years now, a theory that states that, despite being rational animals, we unconsciously make decisions based on our emotions, and only then do we build the arguments that allow us to justify it from reason (as long as this is feasible, of course).

Thus, to appeal to the emotions is to knock directly on the door of the limbic brain, which will respond immediately to these stimuli. This is the reason why so many products and brands appeal to them, more than to the properties of their products or services, in their image campaigns. Activating the appropriate emotion in the user we are addressing is a giant step in the relationship we establish with them.

Neocortex: the brain that distinguishes mammals from other living beings in the animal kingdom is also responsible for rational thought, logic and analysis. At this point you may be wondering, based on what was commented in the previous section, about the importance of rationality. Now, an important point must be taken into account, and that is that this emotional decision can be given, in turn, by the analysis of the data.

The three brains of neuromarketing

An example of this: suppose we do not need a new computer, the one we currently have perfectly meets our needs, its performance is optimal and it still has a useful life. However, one day, we found information about a new model, with excellent performance, a design that conforms to our preferences and, in addition, a very competitive price. We don’t need it, but we may already want it at that point.

Here the key has been the data, its analysis and the extraction of results. It is at that moment, based on the analysis carried out by the neocortex, that the limbic brain will be activated generating emotions, emotions that in turn will trigger the processes, both emotional and rational (in some cases even instinctive) that end up triggering a purchase. . The emotions of the limbic brain would not have been activated without the prior logical process of the neocortex.

Neuromarketing, as we can learn in a business school, teaches us to take advantage of this knowledge and, in this way, to align our actions with already one, but with two or even with the three brainsyes, appealing to instincts, emotions and logic. A mix with which we will be simultaneously stimulating the reptilian brain, the limbic system and the neocortex, thus provoking a unique response.

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