As the economy drives increasing numbers of consumers to use coupons to save money on everyday expenses, and with coupon web sites already reporting higher usage figures, research from NeuroFocus has examined consumer responses to coupons at the ‘deep subconscious’ level of the brain. The study analyzed consumers’ brainwave activity and combined those findings with eye tracking and galvanic skin response measurements to find out how print and online coupons fared in three primary neurological measurements:
- Emotional engagement
- Memory retention
“The fundamental difference between this research and others is that measuring brainwave responses results in factual findings, not interpretations of what consumers say they think or feel about coupons,” Dr. Pradeep said. “As our Chief Science Advisor Dr. Robert Knight, one of the world’s preeminent neuroscientists, explains, ‘the brain makes behavior.’ With these results, companies now know the critical differences in subconscious responses across the categories that determine behavior, so they can make the most fully-informed strategic marketing decisions when it comes to couponing.”
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, when brand is considered…
“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. When this new branded element 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.”
All the data is available in the press release from NeuroFocus. Candidly, I found it difficult to interpret the data and jargon. In addition I wondered how statistically significant is the difference between 6.2 and 7.0? In addition, the fact that adding an unspecified “branding element” essentially reversed the results further muddies the water.
My recommendation: If you promote your product or service with coupons, choose the distribution media based not on brain scans or biometrics, but on your customer’s preferred channel of interacting with your brand. This will be the most effective at getting your customers attention; creating the emotional connection and having them remember and act on your offer.