Buying Pain

Godin’s Joy/Cash Curve and Buying Pain

By |April 4th, 2007|

A frequent topic here has been research showing that buying things, particularly items seen as being overpriced, activates the pain centers of the brain (see The Pain of Buying, Painful Sushi and Other Pricing Blunders, and Brain Scans Predict […]

The Joy of Giving vs. the Pain of Buying

By |May 29th, 2007|

We’ve covered the concept of buying pain here frequently, but haven’t seen much about how giving away money affects the brain. Two new studies shed some light on the neuroscience of charity and altruism. These studies indicate […]

The Pain of Buying

By |February 20th, 2007|

We recently reported on important new neuroeconomics research in Brain Scans Predict Buying Behavior. This study is the first that attempts to correlate fMRI brain scan data with actual purchasing behavior. George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University, […]

Make Buying Difficult?

By |August 12th, 2010|

Marketers expend a great deal of effort making it easy to buy their products. They expand distribution channels, offer financing alternatives, and when possible ensure the customer can leave with the product at time of purchase. After […]

Painful Games Companies Play

By |February 11th, 2010|

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 […]

Princess Puts Pain into Cruising

By |May 22nd, 2008|

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. […]

Starbucks Trying to Cut Buyer Pain

By |January 24th, 2008|

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. […]

How To Increase Customer Pain

By |November 28th, 2007|

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. […]

Cyber Monday Impulse Buying

By |November 26th, 2007|

Cyber Monday is one of those recent inventions that seems a bit suspect. Is the Monday after Thanksgiving really the biggest ecommerce sales day? It looks like Cyber Monday will have to work hard to beat Black Friday, when […]

Penalty Pain: How to Make Your Customers Hate You

By |November 5th, 2007|

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. […]