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Why Humans are Hardwired to Buy with Emotions

 Thinking is hard.

The human brain is a heavy burden.

Neuroscientists claim the mere act of thinking burns three times more calories than a less-challenging task like watching TV. While the brain only represents just 2% of a person’s body weight, it accounts for 20% of the body’s energy use. That means during a typical day, a person uses around 320 calories just to think. Different mental states and tasks can subtly affect the way the brain consumes energy but there’s certainly a consensus that the brain is extremely energy-intensive.

The experts also note that the human brain stays dormant, in a non-thinking state, 95% of the time.

It’s estimated that the average person is exposed to over 3,000 ads each day. It would be impossible to process the content of all these ads with the conscious mind, even if the brain was actively engaged 24/7. Since everyone is bombarded with information all day long, if there’s a chance to rest our brains, we usually take it.

Consequently, messages subliminally slip in to our emotional psyche and that’s what ultimately determines whether we like something or not. The content generally taps in to that singular thought like belief, hope, dream or expectation.

According to neuroscientists, the way in which emotion influences our thoughts and decisions is through what’s known as ‘Somatic markers’ – these are feelings in the body associated with emotions. Examples of this could be a rapid heartbeat with anxiety or of nausea with a sense of disgust. Scientists studying people consuming marketing content show that somatic markers strongly influence decision-making.


In a nutshell, emotions and the feelings associated with these emotions influence expectations or beliefs that, in turn, influence our attitude toward a subject – the final step in changing our buying behaviour to favour a certain brand.

All the big brands handle this masterfully. Health and wellbeing brands target our sense of self worth, luxury lifestyle brands challenge our social status and beauty brands question our self esteem.

Naturally, marketers don’t like to bet their budgets knowing their audience is essentially asleep 95% of the time. The data paints a very clear picture – people are more susceptible to emotional appeals because their brains are in an idle, subliminal state of mind the majority of the time. This all leads to the the question – how do you appeal to an audience which is only thinking 5% of the time?

the most effective form of marketing is one that reaches an individual where they don’t need to think – they just need to feel


It’s only after emotional connection is made do we begin to rationalise our feelings and turn them into buying motives. As a result, the most effective form of marketing is one that reaches an individual where they don’t need to think – they just need to feel. 

You may be tempted to challenge the assertion that you’ve ever purchased a product on an emotional impulse or reaction. After all, you’re a rational human being capable of advanced reasoning skills. But don’t think so fast there…

Anthropologists understand that the human brain views brands in a similar manner to how it views people. If you’ve ever met someone and just liked them without any thought, chances are, you had some sort of positive association with them subconsciously. We have these same associations with brands. It’s probably why you bought the brand of computer or phone you’re reading this on right now.

Whether we realise it or not, we live in a world where where everyone is competing for your attention, exposed to an endless deluge of media all day long, every day. The best we can do is at least be aware of the fact and our own biases.

Our very own video explains the content of this article, albeit in a condensed form:


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