With today’s economic condition, interest in discount coupons has been growing. Neuromarketing firm NeuroFocus has examined how people react to both print and online coupons using their typical combination of EEG, eye-tracking, and galvanic skin response. Neurofocus translated the data into what they call “Key Neurological Metrics” (Attention, Emotional Engagement, and Memory Retention) and “Market Performance Indicator” metrics derived from the KNMs (Purchase Intent, Novelty, and Awareness).

The results showed that online coupons tended to have a higher impact than similar print ads:

The research shows that across the board, the online version of a coupon outperformed the print version, by wide margins in almost every one of the neurometrics categories. Only in Memory Retention were the two coupon types close, and even there the online version still held a significant advantage.

Print can regain the upper hand, though:

The company created a new “branded element” and added it to both print and online coupons, to determine if the addition would have any effect on consumers’ subconscious responses. The results were striking.

When this new branded element, which NeuroFocus is keeping proprietary for competitive reasons, was included in both versions the overall Effectiveness score was virtually reversed. With this new element, consumers preferred the print coupon over the online version by almost the same margin that the earlier test had produced for online over print.

You can see all the data in the press release from NeuroFocus. I found it difficult to interpret the data and jargon – what exactly does the “Neurological Effectiveness score” represent, and how meaningful is the difference between 6.2 and 7.0, for example? In addition, the fact that adding an unspecified “branding element” essentially reversed the results further muddies the water.

My advice my sound like neuromarketing heresy: if you promote your product or service with coupons, choose the distribution media based not on brain scans or biometrics, but on which will be most effective at getting your discounts in front of interested consumers.

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