The Mix of Psychology and Marketing

The Mix of Psychology and Marketing

Across radio, print, web TV, and mobile, marketers invest advertising dollars, creative energy and time into targeted messages meant to trigger an emotional response among consumers. For their efforts, marketers hope they may improve the general sentiment towards their brand, convince new audiences to buy their product and encourage existing customers to complete repeat purchases. Their success, of course, is contingent on their ability to influence customer behaviours which makes doing marketing an exercise in consumer psychology.

The influential role of emotion in consumer behaviour is well documented:

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
  • Advertising research reveals that the consumer’s emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content — by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
  • Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.

Emotions are the primary reason why consumers prefer brand-name products. After all, many of the products we buy are available as generic and store brands with the same ingredients and at cheaper prices.

Advertising companies use psychological tactics to get buyers to fall for their trap and buy their goods or service. So, it makes us curious: what truly influences buyer’s decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? Here are three techniques marketing agencies use to influence human behaviour.


Some call it subliminal advertising, some just call it influence. I like to call it priming. Priming happens when you are exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus. Here is an example o

f priming.

Imagine an advertisement for a gel that elevates joint pain. This ad shows middle aged people experiencing lower back pain symptoms, having difficulty with activities requiring manual dexterity, etc. At the conscious level, this ad will be most effective when viewed by people experiencing the exact symptoms described; indeed, advertisers try to target examples that resonate with the maximum number of viewers. One can also speculate, though, that there’s also priming effect happening. As all viewers watch the images of struggling middle age actors, they will identify in some tiny way with what’s on the screen. To the extent that the message resonates with these viewers (e.g., showing images of youthful vigour returning after using the pain relief gel), the company may be effectively reaching a wider market than middle aged people with back or joint pain.


What’s this got to do with marketing? Well, lots. Using subtle priming techniques, you could help your website visitors remember key information about your brand and maybe even influence their buying behaviour. If you give customers or visitors a favourable impression of you and your business, they will keep coming back. There is a reason that supermarkets have flowers in the front of the store. Flowers have a positive association that reminds people of freshness. This is something consumers see every day that they don’t even notice. The goal of priming is to influence the person, in this case the consumer to start thinking about the product in a certain way and to keep them coming back to a website or place.



Social Proof

The next technique advertising agencies use is social proof. Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation. Everyone wants to be a part of the “in-crowd.” People follow the leader. No one is dancing at a wedding until the first group of people do, and then everyone joins in. If you hear that people are camping out overnight to get the latest I-Phone, that makes more people want to get that it. The restaurant that if fully booked for months on end is the restaurant people want to check out.

Social proof influences our actions. Social proof makes things easier to buy because it builds trust. An example of how social proof works is with social sharing and follow buttons that display the number of followers your accounts have or the number of shares a piece of content has. People see that others have already shared your content so they feel more confident in sharing it themselves because they trust the content is quality. Word of mouth is a great marketing tool. Most people who get a recommendation from a friend or family member will trust that recommendation.


I was at Dion Weird recently at the Blue Carpet Sale looking at the Mac Book Air 13 and talking to an Apple sales representative. I wasn’t 100 percent sold on buying this because of the price so I said “I’m going to shop around.” The sales rep quickly said “well that’s the last in stock at that sale price,” like the world was going to end. Scarcity is part of a simple principle called supply and demand. The more rare the opportunity, content, or product is, the more valuable it is. This sales rep wanted me to buy the Mac Book Air they had in stock because it would be the best price and me saving a R1000.

Companies use scarcity to get customers to buy all the time. On Take a lot do you ever notice Shop our amazing deals every day and get up to 60% off. Fast …” That’s a psychological technique that makes buyers want an item even more than normal. Everyone wants the last one. A tip to consumers would be don’t lose sleep over not getting the last of any product or brand. There are deals every day online through various website. Don’t be deceived.


These three tactics are used every day by companies, so the next time you’re shopping, take a look around and ask yourself “why am I buying that?” You might be surprised at the answer.






Written by Prisha Debipersad, Prisha has a love for travel and has lived in Germany and Australia, gaining work and life experience along the way. Being proudly South African she is happy to be back on her home ground. She currently is completing her masters degree as well as providing valuable support to Prana as a Marketing Assistant. .
Marketing to Moms – Steps to winning the millennial mom

Marketing to Moms – Steps to winning the millennial mom

The millennial mom:

Women are not only the biggest spenders but also the primary decision-makers in most households. They make 75% of decisions about buying new homes, 81% of the decisions about groceries, 85% of consumer goods and they influence at least 80% of all household spend. That women is most likely a mom. The mommy market is estimated to be worth $1.6 trillion. She is not just buying for herself; she’s also buying for the baby, the toddler, the teenager, her spouse or partner and the house. She’s not just buying Cheerios and baby wipes — she’s purchasing electronics and other household items.

They describe three generations of moms: Baby boomer moms (born between 1946 and 1964) , Gen X moms( born between 1964 – 1981) and Millennial new moms. If your company is still only marketing to soccer moms, you’re missing two-thirds of the moms. The millennial moms are mothers who were born between 1981 and 1994. Approximately one in five moms (22%) is a Millennial Mom, accounting for approximately 9 million people. They are trying to juggle career, family and their homes and lead very busy lives.


The millennial mom has 3.4 social media accounts, vs. 2.6 for moms in general.  They spend an average of 17.4 hours per week with their social networks, 2 hours more than they spend watching TV and nearly 4 hours more than the average mom spends on social networks. Millennial Moms are decision-influencers. They are more likely than moms overall to provide opinions and recommendations. They also cite themselves as key advisors among their circle of friends as they are more likely to be asked for opinions on purchase decisions. With an average of 24 close friends, vs the 22 of the average mom. They are asked for a product recommendation an average of 9.6 times per month vs. 6.3 times for moms overall. Millennial Moms are spreading information on a wide range of products and services. Nine in 10 or more of them are sharing information about apparel, retail stores and groceries/food and beverages.

Millennial Moms are experiencing motherhood from a much different perspective than older moms. They are twice as likely to be single – whether that is by choice or circumstance – but yet just as likely as the average mom to be the majority income contributor in a multi-resident household.



Engaging millennial moms is key:

  • Not all Millennial Moms are in two-parent families with dual-incomes. Many Millennial Moms may have difficulty identifying with images of the traditional two-parent family.
  • Develop products – including digital ones like apps – that help make Millennial Moms’ lives simpler. They are looking for less complexity in their lives.
  • The love e-commerce, not only do they buy online, they also browse, compare and read customer reviews. The primary reason is the time and convenience of online shopping, they are juggling jobs, children and household chores, so being able to shop online really helps.
  • The rise of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs have given moms a place to congregate, share opinions and build friendships. Posting pictures, especially on Instagram of their family life, parenthood their career and social life.
  • 70% of moms own smartphones, so she is on her phone a lot. A recent survey suggests that American moms spend an average of 2.3 hours per day on mobile devices, compared to just 1.4 hours a day watching TV.
  • Their word of mouth is very powerful, moms love to socialize and share their latest finds anywhere they gather with friends and family. Consider outreach at community events and sponsoring school activities.
  • They follow, trust and value comment from influencers. They sign up, follow and get involved.
  • When marketing to moms, you need to take advantage of the networks they build. Moms love to talk about what they’re buying, so if you have a good product or message, the word will spread. Virtually all new moms join some sort of play group or support group, so it’s wise to get your message across.

Millennials care about many of the same things as women in their age group who don’t have children. They’re unique individuals with stories that deserve to be told. They’re social, and they love to share. They crave adventure and experience. They just want to bring their kids along for the ride. Of the 80 million millennials in the U.S., one-quarter are now parents. 83% of new moms are millennials. Millennial women control the purse strings in most households, and with millennial parents wielding $200 billion in spending power, with a considerable amount of purchasing power, millennial moms are worth every marketer’s attention.


Written by Bronwyn van Dyk, Bronwyn joins Prana as a Marketing and Branding Consultant, working on specialist projects.  Bronwyn has a B.Comm Business Management, a diploma in Marketing Management and a certificate in branding. Bronwyn started her career at FNB as a graduate for 5 years and is now an independent marketing consultant. She has worked her way to be a specialist in her field. Bronwyn has worked across a 360-degree marketing sphere in  digital marketing and as well above and below the line advertising..
Customer Experience

Customer Experience


CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is what trade and retail buyers, consumers, shoppers, agents, business associates and employees experience in their individual and collective interactions with a brand or business. Customer experience has to do with the quality of the relationship between two parties and the effectiveness and respect that the buyer feels. Customer experience is the “Feel Good” factor that leaves a subliminal and lasting impression in the consumer’s heart. A positive experience will keep your customers coming back.


Let’s unpack this a little. According to Jake Sorofman, Research VP at Gartner “89% of marketers compete primarily on the basis of customer experience — discrete moments that, together, strengthen or weaken a customer’s preference, loyalty and advocacy.”

Customer experience-1


Customer experiences spring from concrete, controllable elements – touchpoints.  Customers lead busy lives, fraught with distractions and responsibilities, and while it is not possible to control the variables leading up to their engagement with your organisation, it is indeed possible to control the touchpoints that they will encounter within your organisation – here you have the opportunity to impress, delight, assure your customers.


According to Gartner “customer experience is created by who you are – your people; what you do – your products and services; and how you do it – your business processes, methodologies and service levels. Additionally, and very importantly, it includes the user experience and thoughtful application of design and aesthetics.”


A customer journey map is a helpful tool in plotting the various touchpoints it is a diagram that illustrates the steps your customers go through when engaging with your company. Link to diagram!


A deliberate customer experience


A deliberate customer experience requires collaboration amongst all the departments in a company – from product design and development, marketing, administration, customer service, sales and retail partners.


Customer experience-3

In large organisations, a distinct customer experience replies on the complete understanding and buy in of all staff and departments.  This is most successfully achieved through a concise statement, or catch phrase within the organisation that becomes a mental go-to in all scenarios.


Customers include your employees – those who you count to deliver on your promises and who are critical to the success of your organisation.  Ensuring that your staff are operating from their strengths and that they have the skills necessary to deliver excellent service and represent your organisation proudly are essential to the reputation and longevity of your image.


Customer experience-2

McKinsey provides some guidelines on how to ensure that your employee’s abilities and insights can add to the customer experience:


  • Listen to your employees, ensure that there are channels to receive and respond to their feedback.
  • Hire appropriately, attitude should trump other factors, for example a highly credentialed candidate with an unfriendly manner would be a poor choice for a customer relations position.
  • Give staff scope with a purpose rather than rules, this will allow for ownership and improvisation based on genuine insight.



Another element of customer experience that is important to consider is that of the shopper.  By being in tune with shopping habits of consumers and being receptive to shopper’s needs, it is possible to excel in customer experience – demonstrating a considered response to customer’s needs.  For example, by gathering data of a customer’s buying habits it is possible to offer valuable and surprising extras to your customers such as a digital shopping list, suggested weekly menus, suggestions for supplementary items and so on.


Providing an excellent customer experience is well within the reach of any organisation, through observation and plain courteousness you will find that you are well on your way.


How do I apply Customer Experience for my brand?


  • Attentiveness: be a good listener when engaging with your consumers.
  • Recognition: greeting customers by name goes a long way in making your customer’s feeling validated.
  • Personlisation: remember your customer’s preferences.
  • Consideration: acts like walking customers to the door or assisting them with a heavy load are little gestures that go a long way.
  • Appreciation: consider the ways that you could make your customer’s feel appreciated, special, set apart – notice their loyalty and reward them.
  • Delight: you have won at customer experience if you can achieve an element of delight, that surprising, uplifting moment or gesture that is so unexpected and above and beyond that it elicits a feeling of delight – at the end of an appointment my children’s dentist will blow up a surgical glove and draw a face on to create a chicken balloon and it is well, plain delightful. I appreciate the few extra moments she took to turn our exchange into an experience.


It’s these extras, the hand written note, the considerate foot stool at the book shop for children, the remembering of birthdays or how you like your coffee just so, the offer of help to the car, or the welcoming greeting that impress upon your customer the feeling of being valued and build loyalty.


If you want to improve the customer experience of your business in the market place, contact one of the Prana consultants for a handy guide to apply CE principles in the most effective way within your organization.  For the months of July and August,  we are offering a free 2 hour consultation session with our CE specialists.  Please email to book your session.





Written by Tracey Kelsey, Tracey has worked in the field of marketing and communications. She has completed an Honours Degree in Marketing Communications at the University of Johannesburg in 2002. Tracey worked in the NGO sector for World Hope International where she compiled course material for an HIV awareness program and at Childline Gauteng where she was involved in fund raising and building a community of support for the children of Childline. She has worked as a freelance photographer for the past seven years, her focus being lifestyle family portraiture.


Boosting your brand by understanding the South African giants

Boosting your brand by understanding the South African giants

Once a year the Sunday times releases the TOP BRANDS SA, using consumer interviews. The newspaper can gain a picture of South Africa’s most loved Brands in business and consumer sectors.

Why is this so important? Why do brands matter?

Brands differentiate products in the same category and create relationships with consumers. When consumers perceive a product as better than another, they are more likely to stay loyal and even pay more.

Brands differentiate themselves with unique and recognizable brand identities. There is no confusion between a box of KFC and Nando’s because each brand has its own logo, colour scheme and fonts but even more so, a brand has a personality. People can’t bond with deep fried chicken in cardboard boxes, but they can form attachments to the idea of a finger licking good meal or Nando’s spicy take on current events.

The brand articulates who is responsible for this product and therefore what to expect from it.

Although brands are intangible, they can rake in profits. Knowing, or liking, what you are getting creates extra value. This means a justifiable increased profit. Or at the same price as their competitors, strong brands have a competitive advantage.


Selling is great but repeated selling is better. Strong brands increase customer loyalty. Customers who return without having to be exposed to an expensive advertising campaign, are worthwhile.

This is shown in the way the Times measure top brands. Brands win based on market penetration, love by users and attraction by non-users. (Also included in this summary is the Sunday Times next generation brand awards to get an indication of youth favorites).

Top Brands

The most loved brand for businesses was Vodacom. (Vodacom also won first choice in business, for consumers and youth as a telecommunications Provider).

Consumers voted KOO their favorite brand.

And the upcoming generation is most impressed by Nike.

Community upliftment was won by Woolworths for businesses and awarded by consumers to Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola also won the Green Gran-Prix according to consumers and Nedbank were green according to business.

In smartphones, Apple iPhones were a favorite for CEOs but consumers and the youth preferred the Samsung brand. Similarly businesses prefer British Airways for local flights and consumers and youth agree on SAA.

For banks, the youth side with business voting in FNB and while Capitec is preferred by consumers in general.

Each group has a different preference for cars, with businesses voting Mercedes, consumers Toyota and the youth BMW.

For winners in each category:  See here

For winners in each youth category: See here

But what makes these brands so great? And how can we learn from them?

Firstly, all these brands are familiar, so much so that when we read KOO we can see the yellow circle around the letters or smell sweet corn. Each one of these logos is striking and attached to meaning. A whole range of experiences, conversations and emotions are attached to each symbol. We have all heard people talking about the products offered using these names. We all know people who are die hard Apple or Samsung consumers, or who can’t stop telling people how reliable their Toyota has been.

That’s because these brands meet a compelling need. Coca-Cola knows how tough life is. They offer you the opportunity to open up some happiness with R 16.35 and the twist of a cap. Certain brands, like Vodacom, are championed by all, but others such as Mercedes and Toyota must choose a position (luxury or tough) in order to meet the differing needs in the market.

As seen with the Youth votes, some brands will remain in favour and others will become less popular unless they’re able to pay attention to the youth, to be responsive and to change with the times both in relation to new consumers’ needs and what competitors are doing. Continuing to meet consumers’ needs is incredibly important to build love and loyalty.

When the waiter says “is Pepsi ok?” when you order a Coke, is a great example of the loyalty Coca-Cola inspires, despite Pepsi’s attempts to convince the population that they taste the same.

Pepsi doesn’t always taste the same as Coke because brands speak to both the mind and the heart. Brands offer emotional value to consumers and aid them in building identity and enriching life experiences. That’s why branded businesses are valued more, have more loyal customers and greater profits.

sunday-times-top brands sa 2016

sunday-times-top next gen sa 2016




Written by Abigail Koch, Abigail is a student of psychology and anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand. She is a young writer and a published children’s book writer and illustrator. Her interest in marketing, strategy and behavioral economics allows her to be a specialist projects consultant and designer.
4 steps that South African brands can take to win with consumers at Micro-moments

4 steps that South African brands can take to win with consumers at Micro-moments

What are Micro-moments?

How would you describe the difference between a laptop and a smartphone to your grandmother?

Shape and size are probably the first thing that comes to mind and, not surprisingly, that’s also what differentiates these devices in the marketing world.

Laptops are bigger and usually, require a desktop or a lap and a wall plug. This means that your audience to online media through a laptop is relaxed, perhaps with a cup of coffee in one hand and time to allow themselves to be intrigued by captivating design and wowed by a list of the benefits your product offers, but a smartphone is a whole new ball game.

A smartphone can be whipped out your pocket on impulse in a bustling street, the stuffy back seat of a taxi or a supermarket isle with a million products screaming for your attention. Smartphone users need answers to the questions right in front of them, they are multitasking, and they are late. Smartphone users are under pressure. Smartphone users, therefore, approach marketing in a completely different manner.

Between Sipho sitting with coffee and his laptop in Seattle and the Jahara running through Woolies with five minutes left of lunch hour, who do you think would have gathered from your site that you only deliver on Tuesdays? In fact, the chances are that Jahara granny smith instead of golden delicious and she can’t even recall who served her. In fact, chances are the only thing that Jahara remembers was how many minutes she had to get back to work. This is called the narrowing effect.

When our minds get stressed they zero into one attribute in particular. There’s no time to consider complex positives, rather people tend to eliminate products based on negatives. They don’t look at reviews and they don’t revisit decisions.


If people are going to your site in a hurry for directions, bookings or answers, it should offer a clear, simple offering. Millions of customers around the world are listening through their smartphones by split seconds at a time. The question is, are you telling them what they need to hear, right there, right now?


Here are the 4 steps that South African brands can take to win with consumers at micro-moments:


1)      Know the four search types.

Your customers are using their micro-moments to buy off your site or to find information. If they are looking for information, it’s usually of three kinds: they want to know more about your product or service, they want to know how to use your product or they want to find out where you are. These four search types need to offer easy to get results.


2)       Answer questions.

With the four search types in mind, delve deeper into your customers experience by searching the most searched phrases about your brand. Are you happy with the results? Take some time to ask yourself if the customer really needs all the text and images they are seeing on the screen. The information should only be the answers to the questions inside a viewer’s head. Try to anticipate what they will need, and when they will need it in the purchasing journey.


3)      Play to location.

Is the information you see relevant to the many various environments that your customer may find themselves in? Or even better can you customise what the customer sees depending on their location?


4)      Make it fast.

They key word here is ‘eliminate’. Eliminating unnecessary information and images in the second step will save your user plenty of scanning time. Reducing the loading time of your pages and eliminating unnecessary clicks and steps in processes like checkout will also work miracles.






Written by Abigail Koch, Abigail is a student of psychology and anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand. She is a young writer and a published children’s book writer and illustrator. Her interest in marketing, strategy and behavioral economics allows her to be a specialist projects consultant and designer.