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Taking the Pain out of Sushi Pricing

The menu designer for an Austin restaurant, Roll On Sushi Diner, must be a Neuromarketing or Brainfluence reader. A while back, I identified sushi-style pricing as being the worst possible approach because each tiny bite is a separate pain point (see Painful Sushi and Other Pricing Blunders).
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By |February 13th, 2013|

What’s Better Than an Excited Customer?

Think the way to sell more is to have a frenetic pitchman whip customers into a buying frenzy? Actually, relaxed customers are bigger spenders. A new study that will appear in the Journal of Marketing Research found […]

By |August 8th, 2011|

Painful Games Companies Play

Does your company play painful games with your customers? I’m not talking about physical pain, but brain pain. More specifically, what has been termed buying pain or the pain of paying. According to research conducted by […]

By |February 11th, 2010|

Neuro-Menus and Restaurant Psychology

Restaurants are great test labs for testing neuromarketing techniques. It's easy to change offerings, menus, and pricing, and one gets immediate feedback on what's working and what's not. Today, many eateries are employing sophisticated menu psychology to maximize sales and profits.

By |January 4th, 2010|

Princess Puts Pain into Cruising

Regular cruise ship passengers almost always say that cruising is the least painful way to travel. Once you are on the ship, there’s no packing or unpacking as you visit new destinations, and you are pampered 24/7. Your cabin is straightened and cleaned several times per day, and an endless cornucopia of food is available. Passengers can see live entertainment, attend lectures, play games, or do nothing at all if they so choose. For many, that’s a painless way to spend one’s travel time.

One of the kinds of pain we talk about here at Neuromarketing is the “pain of paying” or “buying pain” – brain scans show that shelling out cash can activate the pain centers in the brain. (See The Pain of Buying.) Cruising generally excels at minimizing this kind of pain, too; once the cruise has been paid for (often many months before the actual cruise), almost everything is included. Elegant dinners, sumptuous buffets, Broadway-style entertainment, and much more is “free” on board the ship. For customers who feel the pain of paying more acutely than others, cruising is about as pain-free as you can get. Want more lobster? It’s free. Care to watch a recently-released movie after the performance by a concert pianist, and then hang out at the disco until dawn? It’s all free. Cruise lines further minimize paying pain by ensuring that their passengers pay for nothing with cash – one’s “cruise card” is a combination room key and shipboard credit card that one can use to buy anything on the ship. (In almost every case, an automatic service charge obviates the need to calculate a tip or even look at the amount one signed for – a great way to further minimize buying pain.)

The nature of cruising is that you are often thrust into contact with other passengers as you share a dinner table, sit next to each other at a show, and so on. Introductions always involve first names and where one lives. By far the most frequent opening conversational gambits are how many cruises one has been on, which lines and itineraries are the best, and what one thinks of the current cruise in the context of past cruises. Aboard the Crown Princess on a cruise I just completed, a new topic cropped up in perhaps half of these random encounters: the small charges that seemed to be mushrooming all over the ship. […]

By |May 22nd, 2008|

Starbucks Trying to Cut Buyer Pain

As described many times here at Neuromarketing, paying for a product activates the brain’s pain center, particularly if the price seems too high to the person making the buying decision. Starbucks is the company that taught us that $5 for a cup of coffee (or at least for a skinny mocha peppermint latte with an extra shot ) isn’t too much too pay. A simple cup of brewed coffee costs less, but the high cost of Starbucks beverages has made the $5 Starbucks coffee a staple of stand-up comedy routines. Now, new competitors like McDonalds are creeping in and showing consumers that maybe Starbucks actually IS kind of expensive for what you get. The buyer pain that Starbucks had suppressed over the years is in danger of returning. […]

By |January 24th, 2008|

How To Increase Customer Pain

Big companies often find great ways to aggravate their customers, and cell phone giant Sprint proves the point. John Wall of the Ronin Marketing blog posted a rant about Sprint’s advertising for their Centro Palm smartphone, Screw Your Customers. Wall was understandably miffed when he found out that the $99 advertised price for the phone applied only to new customers, and that as an existing four-phone Sprint customer, he would have to pay $250 for the Centro. Beyond exacting what appears to be a penalty for customer loyalty, Sprint has committed a second sin of the neuromarketing variety. […]

By |November 28th, 2007|

Penalty Pain: How to Make Your Customers Hate You

Neuromarketing readers are by now familiar with the idea of “buying pain” or “pain of paying” – when we buy something, the pain center in our brain can be activated. Work by Carnegie Mellon’s George Loewenstein and others shows that this effect is greatest when the price is perceived to be high or unfair. Buying a pack of gum for $10 would be a lot more “painful” than spending 50 cents for the same item. One wonders how painful paying multiple $40 bounced check fees would be, particularly if you knew your bank processed the largest checks first to ensure the maximum number of bounces. […]

By |November 5th, 2007|

Five Keys to Selling to Tightwads

One out of four potential customers for your product may not buy it, even if the purchase makes economic sense or is otherwise a good decision. A couple of days ago, in Tightwads, Spendthrifts, and Everyone Else, I wrote about research that found people could be categorized by their spending behavior into three major groups. While the largest group, described as “unconflicted,” comprised 60% of the large sample of survey subjects, a quarter of the group were identified as “tightwads.” The latter group presents a unique marketing challenge because they will resist spending money even when the expense is reasonable and perhaps justified. How does a marketer not only make the case for her product, but get a tightwad to part with his money? Here are five tactics: […]

By |October 3rd, 2007|

Tightwads, Spendthrifts, and Everyone Else

Marketers love to segment their potential customers, and now there’s a new way to do it: spendthrifts, tightwads, and everyone else. Research at Carnegie Mellon University shows that 40% of consumers can be classified as either spendthrifts or tightwads, while 60% fall into a middle category without strong tendencies in either direction. Furthermore, this behavior is related to one of our favorite neuromarketing topics, buying pain. […]

By |October 1st, 2007|