Pavlovian Conditioning can help us to educate our consumers?

In this article I would like to talk a little bit about some learnings I got from my Neuroscience courses. I find this topic really interesting due to the applications in marketing. 

In this case we are going to see how Sheldon uses it to educate Penny in order to avoid her bad behavior (from Sheldon’s point of view)

First we are going to define two situations in order to make the explanation easier: 

Neutral situation:
  • Unconditional Stimulus: Eating chocolate
  • Unconditional Response: Feeling good/ Having some pleasure (in this case provide by chocolate)
Conditioning situation:
  • Conditional Stimulus: If she behave she get some chocolate
  • Conditional Response: She just behaves and feels good about it without needing the positive reinforcement of the chocolate (that’s when Penny gets fully trained.)
The idea is to associate the response of the neutral situation with the conditioning one by repeating the conditioning stimulus very times till the brain adapts to having the good sensation after behaving well (despite the satisfaction is provide by the chocolate, we educate the brain to think that is provide by the action of well behavior). So then a good behavior provides a good feeling.

Neuroscience point of view

Let's take this to the next level.

There is a part of our brain that reacts to rewards (actually expected rewards as you will see). If we measure this single-cell activity we can know when this part activate and relate it with the different moments of the exercise.

Now we can see that the two moments and the brain activation. The first moment is the sound stimulus and the second is the reward. We can see the chronology as long as the experiment gets repeated. And we can see how the brain activation (that is when most of the points get closer horizontally) changes from the reward moment to the conditioned stimulus sound as the experiment goes on proving that the dog actually get excited by the expected reward.

This became amazing when you think about your consumers, because it happens the exact same. Let’s talk about some examples from Coca-Cola. It has been proven that the best moment, I mean the peak of pleasure about drinking a Coke is the exact previous millisecond of drinking, because all your brain is fully expecting the moment and imagine the best Coke ever. And that’s not a coincidence. You have been taught by Coca-Cola (and many other big brands) to have a responsive behavior to their products. 

So you have to be very careful when you execute your brand campaigns because every time you talk to your consumers you are telling them how to feel about your products. And that will take part on the decision process and could make the difference in the consumers’ choice.

Thanks for your time!

Any comment will be well received.