Lewis Brain Sell

Ep #6: Shopper Science, Big Data, and Neuromarketing with Dr. David Lewis


David LewisThe “father of neuromarketing,” Dr. David Lewis, joins me on this episode to discuss the incredible evolution of consumer neuroscience.

French-born neuropsychologist Dr. Lewis is the founder and Director at the independent research consultancy Mindlab International, based at the University of Sussex. Additionally, he is a chartered psychologist, bestselling author and international lecturer. Dubbed the “father of neuromarketing” for his pioneering studies of analyzing brain activity for research and commercial purposes, Dr. Lewis currently specializes in non-invasive techniques for measuring human responses under real-life conditions.

In his new book, The Brain Sell: When Science Meets Shopping, Dr. Lewis guides readers through the world of neuromarketing and explains the techniques and tools that advertisers use to influence consumers. This inside look at how businesses can utilize subconscious methods of persuasion offers new and exciting possibilities for marketers and entrepreneurs alike. Don’t miss it!

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On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • How Dr. Lewis accidentally became the “father of neuromarketing”.
  • Past experiments and studies conducted in the field of consumer neuroscience.
  • The rapid evolution of shopper science and its impact on retail
  • The ethical boundaries when using advertising messages that are not consciously processed.
  • The link between “Big Data” and neuromarketing and how it will affect advertising in the future.
  • Techniques used to influence the customers’ buying decisions.

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.
Roger Dooley: Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast. This week we have with us Dr. David Lewis. He is a neuropsychologist who has lectured in clinical psychology and is the founder and chairman of Mindlab International, a consumer neuroscience firm. He’s been the author of more than 20 books. He’s got a new book out now, which is very good. It is called “The Brain Sell: When Science Meets Shopping” and in fact, Dr. Lewis is often referred to as the father of neuromarketing. Actually, David, why don’t you tell us briefly how you got to be “the father of neuromarketing”?
Dr. David Lewis: Yes indeed, Roger.
Roger Dooley: What do you think of the strange baby, anyway?
Dr. David Lewis: I think the child has grown up much faster than I anticipated. Although, having said that, it has taken about 20 years, which I suppose is about right for a child growing up to actually make any impression on the world. I take you back to the 1980s. At that time, I just completed my doctorate at the University of Sussex, where in fact Mindlab International is now based. I was working in the field of clinical psychology and psychopathology, the study of mental illness.
At that time, in the 80s, perhaps some of the old people may remember this; we were still in the ages of behaviorists. Freud had been kicked out of the university, universities as a world and everything was now looking at behaviorism and the brain as a black box, which you couldn’t investigate. You could only look at stimulus response that was the kind of … the maximum behaviorists.
I was working in the field of anxiety and stress. I was very interested in trying to find a way of looking at people’s subconscious reactions. At that time when, as I say, few mentioned the subconscious in many universities’ psychology departments usually have been kicked out because it was a dirty word.
Now at that time, a device had been invented called a mind mirror. This was a device which measured electrical activity in the brain. It was in fact a portable electroencephalogram, which reads electrical patterns of the brain and is used in hospitals for diagnosing epilepsy or tumors. This device was really basically quite primitive. It displayed the frequencies of the brain by means of light-emitting diodes, LEDs and so you had one bank showing the ride side of the brain, one bank showing the left side of the brain. There were all the frequencies and about 4 hertz right away up to about 30 hertz were registered. They did this as a way for the center of the board showed how much amplitude there was in each of these currencies. This has been designed by a radio engineer. Actually, he made his living by designing and building radio microphones for television and film industry.
Another chap called Maxwell Kate who was a psychologist, who was very much into Buddhism and meditation and areas like that. He built this device to enable people to put themselves in different states of mind. There was no way of recording the data, essentially other than you can plug a tape recorder and actually record the session. The stuff was analog, it was no way of digitizing it, but I decided this might be an interesting way of trying to explore how people responded to different stressful situations.
To cut the long story short, I acquired one of these machines. I then had to reconfigure it so we could digitize the output, write a program, which would then enable us to present the data on a computer screen. This is the data when … really very, very early days of laptops and things like that, where in fact, there were no laptops. Thus in desk computing, which is pretty primitive. Anyhow, I created this and then I was looking for a stimulus and so I decided to use television commercials because I figured these were designed 30 seconds worth of very carefully crafted message, which is designed to catch attention, arouse different emotions and so forth.
Anyhow, I wrote around to various advertising agencies, got a hold of a whole bunch of these commercials and showed them my subjects. This was picked up by some of the advertising trade press in the UK and the BBC then made a documentary about my work, which you can actually see if you go to the Brain Sell site. You can actually see this documentary made in about 1990 about the work, but I had no interest in commercializing it. Indeed the response of advertising agencies and organizations such as Millward Brown, the big market research company were very, very negative. In fact, they dismissed it.
Then the matter rested for next 20 years or so. Until in the early 2000s, I was invited by a couple of marketing guys to set up a company which we call … We eventually became NeuroFocus. It was taken over by NeuroFocus, which is the big Nielsen operated, which pretty much I think they setup labs all over the world.
That was really how I came to make these recordings. I think I was the first person in the world to actually record large numbers of people. Probably the sort of agley for the first person to record the EG in a commercial way was done by an American in the ‘60s by a man called Kroogman. He had just one subject. He had his secretary, I think. He measured her brain activity when she was watching television and then when she was reading a magazine. Personally surprising, he found a difference between these two.
He probably was the world’s first person to record this, but I think I was … And that’s probably why journalists refer to me as the father of neuro …
Roger Dooley: Really it was sort of an accident that you just happened to choose TV commercials as a good content source as opposed to “Wow, we could really see which commercials wide out the brain.” That’s fascinating.
Dr. David Lewis: That is precisely the point. In a sense, I didn’t invent neuromarketing. I invented this technique which its data became part of neuromarketing because neuromarketing as you all know, is a term which was coined in 2002, generally credited to a professor of marketing at Notre Dame University, Aaron Schmidt. It’s an okay term. I think the problem with it is that it’s become a bit of a catch-all.
Roger Dooley: I probably contributed as much to that catch-all nature as anybody. It’s very hard to define the exact boundaries to say “Well, this is neuromarketing, this is not.” People have tried to do that but it always ends up being somehow unsatisfying to draw rigid boundaries. When in a lot of cases, I think the tools are simply providing another window on behavior that we already know about. It’s not necessarily an FMRI and gives us a dramatically new insight into human behavior but it opens up an additional window about behavior.
Dr. David Lewis: I think that’s right. There are many tools which are now available to market researchers and people interested in the subject. I think neuromarketing, whether that we define it as putting senses on people’s heads to read electrical activity in the brain, as you were saying for popping them in an FMRI scanner and looking in the changes in there. Hear a dynamic response to different areas of the brain; I think that’s one window on how people are perhaps subconsciously processing information.
There are many other… as tools; you all know these implicit association tests are now being increasingly used. I think probably one of the problems with neuromarketing, just focusing entirely on as I said, putting electrodes on people’s head.
First of all, it is slow. You have to do people individually. Your sample size is going to be relatively low, N=40 would be a good sample size for an EEG, probably a test and whereas if you’re using FMRI because of the huge cost of FMRI, you’re probably going to run perhaps a dozen subjects or so, depending how big bucks the client wants to start…
Roger Dooley: It seems to be the gold standard for academic research, but commercial applications are as you say, rather limited because of the cost. Why do you think neuromarketing is viewed with so much suspicion by so many academics?
Dr. David Lewis: I think initially, there was an awful lot of people went into neuromarketing who were basically marketing people, and nothing wrong with that. They were very skilled at selling things but they didn’t really have this neuroscientific background. Although a lot of companies did recruit academics, I think a lot of promises which were made and the kind of the abilities of any kind of FMRI or EEG to really read the mind, to finding the “buy button” in the brain was kind of to speak, goal of people, and said, “Yeah, we can find the buy button in the brain and press that” and then people would buy anything. They’re going for a can of beans and come buy a harvester and things like that.
We can manipulate them with … I think this idea really worry a lot of people outside advertising and retailing. I think it heads back to in the ‘50s, there was an American journalist called Vance Packard, who wrote a book called “The Hidden Persuaders”. This sought to expose the wickedness of advertising and how they were manipulating people. It become a massive best-seller in the United States and provoked a huge outcry against this.
In the ‘50s, again, you won’t probably be familiar with this famous subliminal experiment, which was supposed to been carried out in a cinema, where the audiences were secretly exposed, at least according to the perpetrator of this experiment, to messages who’s saying “drink coke” and “eat popcorn”. He claimed that sales for both popcorn and coke shot up. That provoked a huge outcry in the United States. It was real media hysteria. They were saying that this guy ought to be shot and that his invasion … they were saying “Well, if you can sell Coca-Cola, why not sell politicians in the same way? We’re all going to be puppets.”
At that period, America had been involved in the Korean War. A lot of American soldiers were being captured by the Chinese. They say in those days, brainwashed and making statements on the radio and on the film against the United States. I think there was a huge panic about brainwashing. It’s not as intense now. I do think a lot of people are very worried that somehow when you’re actually trying to understand people’s subconscious responses to thing, you can just try to see what’s going on in their minds. You’re actually trying to implant ideas in their brains.
Roger Dooley: Even though the cinema experiments were proven to be a fraud, it didn’t really happen. In fact, the phenomenon itself is real, correct?
Dr. David Lewis: Absolutely real. Yes, it was merely an experiment which he invented. In fact, he admitted he had done so. He was a market researcher, whose business was failing. He thought he was going to kick start with a bit of publicity, which of course he produced more publicity than he expected, very negative publicity indeed.
You’re absolutely right, yes. I mean there was an interesting study carried out in Holland in fact, where they got people to work on the computer and the task they gave them was to identify lower case letters in the stream of upper case letters. They’d see for example, a stream of letters going across the screen, all in upper case then suddenly there would be a lower case letter. They had to click the keyboard when that happened.
What they weren’t aware of, the subjects, was that there was a subliminal message. It was exposed for about just a thousandth or so of a second, so they can’t actually consciously see it, which said “drink Lipton’s iced tea” and afterwards they were offered a choice of mineral water or Lipton’s iced tea to quench their thirst. Those who’d been exposed to this subliminal message were actually more likely to choose the iced tea.
It certainly can work under certain circumstances, yes. Whether it’s being used … In advertising agencies all deny that they ever used subliminal advertising. Many people believe that they do, and indeed, the school of thought that they use a whole lot of concealed … which I believe in but, they also use a sort of subliminal sexual messages hidden within the advertisements.
Roger Dooley: Twenty years ago, there was a book or two that purported to expose these images, but they’re kind of questionable. It seemed like the author was the only one that can actually see it, which probably said more about the author than the agencies.
Dr. David Lewis: I think you’re right. He was seeing sexual images everywhere, everything from the flags, to Boy Scout shorts; it was actually quite bizarre in the end. Nonetheless, there was an interesting study where these psychologists found what they thought was a subliminal sexual message inside, I think it was an advertisement for whiskey and another one for a cigarette.
They airbrushed these out, got an artist to airbrush them out. Then they presented the different … with the image and without the image to groups of people. They found they actually became more attentive to the advertisements when there was this embedded image. It may have an effect. I think due to some extent, it’s still out there but I certainly agree with you. It didn’t happen to the extent to which it was claimed. If you go online and look at it, you’ll see a whole off the wall stuff.
Roger Dooley: I think that today, it would be quite risky for businesses to do anything that seem to underhand opportunity with the impact of social media and ability of almost anything to go viral in 24 hours. If a company was found to have embedded messages inside a commercial, an ad or something, then almost undoubtedly, somebody would spot it eventually and be exposed. The company would be publicly shamed.
Dr. David Lewis: Absolutely. I think the power of social media, the powers you’re saying of messages which go viral can destroy a company’s reputation. I think companies are much more watchful of their reputation. I agree with you, they wouldn’t do anything; at least most of the major ones wouldn’t do anything which was at least bit likely to expose to that kind of negative publicity, both in the mainstream media and on social media.
Roger Dooley: Where do you think the ethical boundaries are, David, with messages that are consciously processed?
Dr. David Lewis: I think it’s a very good question. I think it’s something which we need to … society needs to address. I made a presentation to the ethical society in London, which is a society which concerned itself with these kind of matters. They’re obviously because of consumer advocacy groups particularly in the United States, which are very worried about this.
I think with some degree of right on their side. The problem is where do we actually draw the line? Is an advertisement going to be deemed to be wicked if it’s effective? Only advertising messages which are not particularly effective are going to be allowed. That’s obviously ridiculous. I think a lot of people in the industry would argue “We’re not trying to sell you things. We’re trying to present things to you which you’re more likely to be interested in buying” so if we think about Amazon for example, I’m sure you do as well. You buy a lot of books on Amazon.
They’ve got an algorithm which will say, “You bought this book therefore, you might like this book” looking at your choices. I think this is what a lot of people in advertising would say that “What we’re trying to do is to personalize the days when you just broadcast a message to a million people and hope that a few thousands of them were interested, while the rest were just bored and got turned off. We’re trying to do now is develop an understanding of what you particularly want and send you a message which will be of interest or more likely to be of interest to you.”
I think that’s pretty innocuous. I pretty much think that there should be no laws because I think it’s very hard to enforce a law when you’ve got something which is as global as the internet. I do think consumers need to be more aware. Indeed in the Brain Sell, I end this by saying the old saying “Caveat emptor”, “Let the buyer beware” really should be better rephrased as “Let the buyer be aware” be aware of how these things happen.
It’s not just I think what is considered to be neuromarketing, but also I think there’s much greater threat in a sense from data mining, from mining data because they know now by analyzing your Facebook pages. A lot of people are on Facebook, your tweets, all these. There’s so much about you. This is something which is not particularly regulated by anybody as far as that concern. You can regulate it yourself. It’s been said that if online, there’s no such thing as a free lunch online. If not a customer online, then you’re a commodity, which is being sold. Something which appears to be free is actually not free because they’re using your personal data to pay for the site.
Roger Dooley: Right. Actually that was on my list to talk about. I’m glad you brought up big data. How do you see big data intersecting with neuromarketing or consumer neuroscience, if you prefer? Is there going to be some kind of a bridge between these two areas?
Dr. David Lewis: I think there probably is. I think all these things are going to converge. I think we’re going to see increasingly, advertisements which deliver to us in a very personal way at the moment when it’s most likely, which will be vulnerable to them all, open to them. For example, you might be walking down the street, you might be coming up to lunch time, you might be feeling a bit hungry and your mobile phone will bleep and it’ll say “Sure you’re feeling hungry now. You’re a hundred yards from a fast food restaurant. If you go in there now, we’ll give you a 20% discount.” Things like that and–
Roger Dooley: Most likely you’re talking to watch, which is measuring your glucose levels.
Dr. David Lewis: You’re absolutely right. Measuring your heart rate, taking a whole lot of biometric measures possibly, because of the GPS facility, it’ll know exactly where you are. It’ll be able to offer you if you’re in an urban environment, it’ll be able to direct you straight to where you can purchase whatever they think you might particularly want to buy at that particular time. I think that’s interesting. A minority Report, of course if you remember the film where Tom Cruise billboards actually speak to him directly as he goes pass them.
I dare say billboards like that are actually in existence at the moment, in sort of a trial basis. In Tokyo for example, there’s a billboard which knows whether you’re a man or a woman and your approximate age and will flash out messages most likely to appeal to you as a woman or you as a man, or you as a young man or old man, or a young woman or an old woman, so personalized at that extent. I think very soon, the billboard facial recognition software is now very good. It’ll recognize you as an individual when you’re waiting for a train or something. You’re standing by this poster and it’ll go to your social media data. It’ll know what your hobbies are, what you’re interests are. It’ll put up an advertisement which is specifically designed just for you. As you move out of the way and somebody else comes up into that position, it’ll talk to them as well.
I think more and more personalization is going to be seen. Part of that will come from understanding much more about how the brain functions and what kind of messages are more likely to get underneath our radar of cynicism.
Roger Dooley: It seems that consumers have a dual mind about these kinds of ads. Nobody likes ads that are ridiculously inappropriate for their interest. We’ve all seen those TV commercials for mattress ads here in the states seem to be one where they have an exceptional wild spokesperson, who’s screaming at you. 99% of the viewers of course are not in the market for a mattress but they all have to put up with it.
The same time, when you get a retargeted ad for something that you looked at a week ago on a website that seems kind of spooky too. I think there’s a bit of an indecision there, is it really relevant advertising a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I don’t mind it. I think that I would much rather see ads for products that I’m interested in chances are if I was browsing a website and perhaps put a product in a shopping cart or check its price or something like that. That is something that I’m interested in.
At the same time it can be eerie when these ads are popping up in places where you don’t expect them. I can imagine being really surprised if I was at a bus stop and a billboard suddenly started to showing me a short that I’ve been looking at Amazon yesterday.
Dr. David Lewis: I think that’s going to happen. I think you’re right. You would be surprised at least initially, until it’s happened every time you stop near a billboard. It would certainly catch people’s attention. It’s much more likely to do so. We move through a glittering haze of information now and the most expensive thing we have to sell is our time because the amount of time we can spend on any one thing. The more attention commercial organizations can get as to devote to them, the better it is for them.
They’re going to go more, more to treat us as individuals and to try and find things which we specifically want to buy because it’s a huge waste of money. Famous Lord Leverhulme said that “I know that 80% of my advertising budget is wasted at somebody which tells me which 80% it is. I’d stop spending money like that.” I think the more we find in the investment it can be, the more tailored it can be. I do think this is one area and neuromarketing can actually help make everybody’s life easier both the people who are spending money on the advertisements and the marketing campaigns, and the people who like you and I as consumers who are confronted by them.
Roger Dooley: A lot of neuromarketing focuses on commercials, print ads and that sort of thing, but your book talks a lot about the shopping experience. What have you learned about the shopping environment?
Dr. David Lewis: Absolutely. We’ve done a lot of work both in the states and in Canada in shopping environments, sometimes in actual shopping environments, sometimes in environments which are set up as supermarket kind of … which is not open to the public but has been set up for a particular research project. There were can use portable EEG and portable eye-tracking to see how people are responding in that particular environment what they’re looking at, how they’re moving around the store and a whole bunch of things about how they respond to signage, for example, how they’re responding to package design and this type of thing.
Technically as you well know a lot of problems about this kind of thing because when you’re working in basically a very electronically dirty environment, you’re going to get a lot of artifact on your EEG, however careful you are on your setups. Nonetheless, if you do it carefully, you can get I think a lot of information. One of things which really comes out of this, which I think is important for retailers whether online or in the high street or recognized, is what we term “cognitive fluency”.
What we find is when people can move easily, smoothly through a store, on an online site, they’re more likely to buy things. If anything interrupts them, if anything causes them to step back and think about what they’re doing, they tend to be less likely to actually continue with it. Acute checkouts for example, a cash on wrap I think they’re called in the states for example, or some obstruction in the aisle which they have to maneuver their trolley around or online, some delay. The site is very slow loading or something like that or they try to move through … they bought, put something in their basket and they want to buy it and there’s a big delay or some kind of problems with actually paying their money over. They will click off that very rapidly.
This idea of cognitive flow, of making things as easy and as comfortable for people as possible, I think is very important. I think really retailers need to go to customers who walk to their store and say “how easy is it?” not that I’m a 20-year old healthy young man or woman but supposing I’m 70 years old, the graying demographic, supposing my eye sight is not as good as it used to be, how clear is my signage? How clear is the labeling on the packages? I think you have to understand how the different things which can interrupt people’s cognitive flow, depending on their age, depending on their level of mobility, depending on a whole range of things.
Anything which does interrupt them, they always come out of this more passive mental state. Then they will think about what they’re doing. Very often, when they think about what they’re buying, they won’t buy it.
Roger Dooley: Yup. I think fluency is something that is most marketers really don’t understand or haven’t heard of it. It seems to underlie so much human behavior. Just last week, I wrote a blog post about how new research shows that people are more likely to believe statements made by a person who has an easy-to-process name versus a difficult-to-process name, which makes zero sense but it’s the way our brains work. There’s certainly other research showing that a hard-to-read font will make people estimate sometimes twice as much time to perform the same action.
It has so many different forms it can take. It affects so much behavior. I write and speak a lot about web conversion and that’s really critical there, where there’s so much loss business on the web where people get halfway through a website it’s a lead-generation website. They end up not completing the form or they leave stuff in their shopping cart, their electronic shopping cart. That happens in the retail word too, where people abandon goods.
Dr. David Lewis: Absolutely. Walk away if there’s too big a line at the checkout, they’ll just abandon their trolley. All sorts of things will cause people to walk away. You’re actually right. Online, I think web visibility is becoming a really important consideration. A lot of companies do realize this.
Coming back to your point about fonts, Psychology Today wrote a blog about that. We did a study in our lab which was interesting. We serve people bowls of tomato soup. We get scribed among the menu in exactly the same way, but we changed the font between different groups. The one group got a very elegant font, a Lucida Font, which is very nice, elegant and the other one got a Courier Font which is a bit boring.
Roger Dooley: Looks like typewriter text.
Dr. David Lewis: Exactly. That’s exactly what it looks like, yes. We asked them to rate the soup in terms of the taste, freshness, value for money and whether they would like to buy it. Those who saw it in the elegant font, the menu typed in the elegant font, was 2/3 more likely to rate it positively and to say they would buy it than those who’ve seen it in the Courier font. It was an identical soup. We served it from the same catering pack. What have had influenced them? Just what font looked elegant. They kind of associated the elegance of the font with maybe eating and more elegant surroundings.
Roger Dooley: Courier is generic look too. It almost says “This is a generic product” sort of like a white box with a black label on it or something.
Dr. David Lewis: Yeah, perhaps it’s the kind of thing that you might get in a greasy spoon, whereas the Lucida font was something you might find at high end restaurants. This maybe had evoked these memories. We’re so influenced.
There was a very interesting study conducted in Belgium recently, where they infused a book shop with chocolate aroma. This was very subtly done. You couldn’t really detect it. People really didn’t detect it at the conscious level, but when they chocolate aroma was in the book shop, they spent longer browsing the books. They actually bought more books. Unfortunately for authors like you and I, the books they bought were romantic fiction. Nonetheless, it was interesting I think how something subtle as an aroma can actually really influence people’s behavior and thing which absolutely has nothing to do with aroma at all.
You can understand coffee and freshly baked bread and things that making people feel more hungrier, when they’re perhaps going around shopping supermarkets, but chocolate and books have no connection at all. I think that’s very interesting.
When I was researching the Brain Sell, I talked to a major company in the states, which was probably one of the world leaders in creating aromas, succumb Nicole scent. They design aromas for specifically for companies, to give them an aroma brand. For example, they develop a particular aroma for Hugo Boss, which has been very effective. I think these areas where people don’t perhaps realize the persuasive power of things like aromas, of things like the choice of font, quite small things which can make a huge different to the bottom line.
Roger Dooley: I think you’d be doing as all a favor if you could perhaps figure out the correct scent of some of our business books in the bookstore.
Dr. David Lewis: Yes.
Roger Dooley: Apparently, chocolate is not it. There’s probably out there somewhere.
Dr. David Lewis: Perhaps money, I don’t know.
Roger Dooley: Fresh, fresh currency.
Dr. David Lewis: Maybe we should do a next study where we infuse a shop with money. There’s an interesting study, which you’re maybe familiar with. They actually played classical music or pop music in a wine department. They found when the classical music was played, they didn’t buy more wine but they bought more expensive wine, they bought better wine.
Again, they apparently reported not being even aware of the music, but it had at some level, influenced their behavior. I think we are influenced. We go by our days consuming work by a lot of things which we’re not aware. I remember some years ago, I made a film for BBC television about consumerism.
We did box pops, we stopped people outside the supermarket and asked them if they bought anything on impulse. I think we probably stopped about 30 people and all but one, a man, said “Yeah, I bought these picture frames because they were on offer. I bought these cacti, whatever.” This one guy said “No, when I go to a shop like this, I make a list and I stick to my list and I don’t buy anything which is not on the list.” I said “That’s great, but you’re a very unusual shopper.” He said “No, I’m supermarket manager and I know all the tricks.”
We make ourselves a bit more aware of some of the tricks, at least some of the techniques. I think tricks is a bit pejorative, but some of the techniques which are used, to lull us into this very comfortable and in essential, this non-thinking state of mind when we’re going shopping. Just step back from it and say “Do I really need this? Why am I buying this?” that sometimes can save us a lot of money.
I think so often people buy things and when they get them home, they think “Why do I need this? I don’t need this. What was I thinking about at the time?”
Roger Dooley: Let’s change ears for a moment here. I always thought that magicians were great persuaders and know a lot about how the human brain works, far more than any other profession perhaps outside of neuroscientist. One of my most popular blog posts was entitled “Selling Secrets for Magicians” and got some of the different techniques that they use. I see now that you’re working with a professional magician to develop a new kind of presentation. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dr. David Lewis: Yeah, absolutely. I’m working with a guy called Kethan Laser. He’s an absolutely amazing magician, very famous, works all over the world. He’s worked in Las Vegas. I was interested in your Brainfluence book about … because you got a whole section there on the tricks magicians use.
You’re absolutely right. They are perhaps the ultimately, when they’re good, manipulators of our attention and letting us see what they want us to see rather than what we think we’re seeing. The whole range of techniques which they use is … but certainly the manipulation of attention and directing attention and misdirecting attention.
Ability to focus attention on things is very, very limited. We basically see one thing. I’m sure you’re aware because it’s pretty famous now, the gorilla. When people don’t see the gorilla wandering among a group of students who are passing a baseball to another or basketball to one another, we don’t tend to think. I think that’s something which again, which is very often used and can be used in selling. Actually to direct the person’s attention to what you as a sales person, as a marketing person want them to pay attention to and not pay attention to other things.
I think you’re absolutely right. I think magicians down the centuries has been basically great psychologists who understand a lot about in practical terms if not in academic terms, about how the mind works and how attention works and how you can slide things under people’s radar in a sense, to produce the effects you want. Very often, the effects are immensely simple. When you know how you do it, when you know how it’s done, you’ll think “Why was I taken in by it?” so obvious once you know.
Roger Dooley: Once you see the gorilla, you can’t miss the gorilla. Up to that point, you had not seen him, I can blab here for hours, David but I think we’re just about out of time.
Let me remind our listeners that we’ve been speaking with Dr. David Lewis and his new book is “The Brain Sell: When Science Meets Shopping” and it’s a really good book. It’s very well referenced, that’s one thing that I always check for in a book is to see if a piece of data is presented, can I read up on it? Can I dig in a little bit deeper? Of course as you might expect, it’s got a great list of references. You could fill your reading list with what’s in there.
At any case, David why don’t you tell our listeners where they can find your stuff online and how they can connect with you?
Dr. David Lewis: I’ve got a personal site which they can obviously look at. If they want to go to Brain Sell again, that’s online. I think it’s a dot com or dot uk site, just type in “the brain sell” that should bring it up. We got a lot of stuff there. I actually got an interview with you I think, on that site as well.
Roger Dooley: Don’t let anybody on there.
Dr. David Lewis: Well, people who got things worth saying about marketing and neuromarketing. We talked to a lot of people, probably talked to about a hundred people in the industry when I was writing the book. That’s on there. Maybe those sites might be of interest to people.
Roger Dooley: Very good. Well, thank you very much. As a reminder, this has been the Brainfluence Podcast.

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