Why You Want Anything

Why You Want Anything


We like to think we are smart in making purchases—rational at the least. With all the information at the touch of our fingertips, we have no more reason to make poor purchasing decisions.

So when offered to choose between an iPhone or an unbranded smartphone, it is no surprise that consumers gravitate towards the iPhone. You might think that of course they would choose the iPhone, hell—you would choose the iPhone! But what if you were asked to choose between an iPhone or an elegantly gold-coated but unbranded smartphone, which one would you choose?

Human beings are inherently made to feel the need to belong in a tribe and brands help them to do so. You might ask how a powerful brand name in the minds of consumers can win over an excessively luxurious, over the top yet unbranded smartphone, but the iPhone is one of the most well-known brands accounting for 15.2% of the smartphone market share last 2017.

So how does a brand’s value overshadow the product’s value? If you chose the iPhone, neuromarketing can explain why. Successful brands do not necessarily sell the product nor are they selling the solution to a problem but rather, they sell the qualities, values and lifestyle that their consumers have or at least, aspire to have. While the iPhone might not give you access to exclusive clubs and parties that A-list celebrities frequent, the ownership of an iPhone creates a similarity which can turn into a possibility. Let’s take a look under the hood.

When making decisions, the human brain is categorized into two gears. The manual gear is the logical side, and accounts for numerical and analytical functions, which is responsible for making rational decisions. While the automatic gear sparks our imagination, fantasies and emotions, leading us to make decisions based on our feelings, aspirations, horoscopes (if you’re that person)—almost anything but logic. Successful brands such as Apple, enable us to shift ourselves on automatic gear, fostering memories and emotions that we associate with the Apple brand. Neuromarketing explains that human beings are more swayed to purchase when emotions are involved and we do so subconsciously while brands try to do so in every step of the customer journey. Think of perfume advertisements you see online, rarely if at all do they describe the scent, what they sell is the lifestyle, status and dream. And they do so using scenarios that are impossible or out of this world in an attempt to make you feel emotions that they want their brand to be associated with.

Brands are emotional symbols that we use to show what kind of person we are and who we choose to identify with. In a digital world, brands are feeling all the more pressured to emotionally connect with consumers. These brands know that with competition popping up and crawling at every corner possible, they are not in the business of purely selling but rather in the business of winning the hearts of their customers.

Feed Your Brain

15Center founders Matt Johnson, PhD and Prince Ghuman are co-authors of Allure: The Neuroscience of Consumerism. To get early access, sign up here.

Together, they teach individuals and businesses how to ethically apply neuroscience to marketing via neuromarketing bootcamps to uncover consumer blind spots and help brands better engage with their customers. Get your ticket here.