"A coffee with..." LEYRE GUTIÉRREZ DURÁ- Specialist in Packaging and Neuromarketing

Empack and Logistics & Automation Porto: You have a long career in the packaging sector and you also specialise in Neuromarketing. Tell us about your career in these sectors, what do you think makes the relationship between these two disciplines so important today?

Leyre – I’m passionate about communication in all its forms, the way we interact as individuals, as a society, as groups…

I studied journalism and started adding subjects related to any kind of communication, and little by little I specialised in the sector of communication through packaging. A few years ago, I was told about neuromarketing and became interested in finding out what it was and how it could be applied to the world of communication and packaging. Neuromarketing, contrary to popular belief, is not about reading or manipulating the consumer’s mind or understanding the graphs of the brain’s responses in order to sell everything. If I had to define it, I’d say it’s a discipline that allows you to listen deeply, understand needs better and perfectly complements other traditional marketing techniques.

Neuromarketing is a science that through the use of various biometric technologies (functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, emotional coding or visual tracking…) aims to understand and improve the consumer experience, as well as the design of products and processes, in order to be more effective.

We are all consumers, to a greater or lesser degree. If we are ever asked in an interview, focus group or survey why we buy one brand rather than another, we will give certain reasons that seem very coherent and rational, but if we knew that almost 95% of purchasing decisions are made below the level of consciousness, we might rethink whether the reasons we have given are the ones that really motivated us to buy. For this reason, I think it’s very important to combine qualitative and quantitative research and obtain results that help improve processes. The mind is like an iceberg and most of it, made up of unconscious thoughts and feelings, is submerged, so neuromarketing is a good ally that can help us better understand our behaviour as consumers.

E.L.Porto: From the union of these two, the concept of “neuropackaging” was born. Can you give us some clues as to what this concept refers to? How has its use evolved in your experience as a professional?

Leyre – Many well-known companies are already using neuromarketing as a tool that allows them to offer consumers what they want and not what the company thinks they want. This means that brands already revolve around the consumer and not the consumer around the brand.

Personally, I would say that in the world of packaging, thanks to this deep understanding of consumer needs, everything is changing, and research into new materials, more sustainable packaging, and packaging that reflects the information consumers want, is progressing very quickly.

In addition, the consumer has become the key to the packaging life cycle process and this has been realised by redesigning new packaging that is more recyclable, reusable and ergonomic.

Another major change has been the realisation that packaging has even more power in the whole process, as it is a unique experience factor. You could say that over time it has gained the prominence it deserves and thanks to neuromarketing it has been possible to create packaging that is very close to what the consumer was asking for.

If we’re selling a product with certain characteristics and the packaging isn’t capable of conveying these emotions, it’s very likely that the consumer will be disappointed. In this case, neuromarketing helps us to better understand what the consumer wants to find in the packaging and allows us to design good packaging that fulfils their expectations and avoids having to redesign new ones.

If we used to design the packaging taking into account data from different market studies, now we have the opportunity to test the packaging, getting to know the emotions it provokes in the consumer with scientific data.

For example, if we design packaging that is attractive but doesn’t generate emotions or attract attention, it is very likely that the consumer will forget it very easily. Neuromarketing studies can improve the end result, as we can understand what the consumer is looking for and be able to generate unforgettable emotions and experiences. Sound, flavour, smell, touch… everything generates emotions and should always be present as an integral part of design.

Antonio Damasio, winner of the Prince of Asturias Award and a neuroscientist and expert in the processes of emotions, tells us that “only when we have a deeper understanding of how the brain works will we be able to… be happier”.

E.L.Porto: With the growth of e-commerce in recent years and the impetus of the pandemic, more and more research is being done into the development of user purchases through this channel in order to achieve better conversion. How are behaviour patterns studied and what is measured? How is the study carried out from a Neuromarketing point of view?

Leyre – It’s true that e-commerce has seen great growth during the pandemic, but I think we should always think that a company can’t rely solely on e-commerce.
Nowadays, more and more companies have different channels at their customers’ disposal, apps, social networks, online sales, physical shops… all with the intention of providing a better service to the user. The important thing is that all these channels share the same type of communication that the brand establishes with the consumer.

The current trend is Omnichannel, a strategy that allows everything to be integrated into a single system. In this way, the consumer’s interaction with the brand will be easy and will allow them to enjoy the purchasing process in a satisfactory way.

There is still a long way to go, but when all the channels are integrated, the online channel has to be an extension of the experiences the brand offers and thanks to neuromarketing we can measure the degree of satisfaction when the user interacts on the online platform.
When we design an e-commerce page and want to measure attention, emotion and memory, we can apply different neuromarketing techniques that will help us analyse whether we are getting any kind of reaction from the consumer. For example, a technique called “eye tracking” consists of analysing eye movement, blinking frequency, pupil dilation, etc., thus providing information on the attention generated by the design of the website. The attention of an element, patterns of interest and confusion, hierarchies, emotional impact, cognitive impact. Heat maps can also be studied, observing where on the page the user stops for the longest time.

E.L.Porto: Why is it important to establish a connection with the consumer through packaging? What can it bring to our business?

Leyre – Fortunately, consumers are no longer passive subjects who are offered what brands want. Companies now revolve around an active consumer with a voice. A consumer who interacts with brands on a daily basis and is increasingly demanding.

What’s more, this new consumer has the chance to speak directly to the brand and tell them what they want and how they would like it to be. This means that companies receive information directly from their consumers and can establish a closer relationship based on trust. These new consumers like to understand the brand from the inside and know how it works and how it manages its resources.

Packaging, as I mentioned earlier, has been evolving and has been able to listen to new demands. Generation Z, for example, was born into the digital age and they don’t understand a world without wifi, YouTube or Instagram and this is reflected in the packaging; more and more companies are using QR codes to offer additional information through the packaging or have a greater presence on the networks. Online unboxing allows the consumer to give greater visibility to the packaging and by being seen by thousands of users, a chain of emotions can be generated in record time. It’s important that the packaging is in line with the brand’s values and reflects all the emotion that the brand conveys, so that everything fits together perfectly.

This generation is very aware of social causes and one of them is the environment, so sustainability translates into greener packaging, which can be reusable and made from new materials.

Our business can provide active listening, cross-checking of data, in-depth information… in this way, we can invest in research. In the long term, the brands that work together with their “active consumers” are the ones that will be able to develop new concepts and offer solutions designed according to their needs.

If a brand is able to listen to, excite and understand the needs of different generations, the brand will be more likely to remain in time and in the consumer’s mind.

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