For centuries, traders and entrepreneurs have developed techniques to get their face-to-face customers spending more than intended, using a combination of science and human insight to get us reaching for our wallets. Only in the past couple of decades, however, have these techniques had the chance to truly evolve and become something new, thanks to the internet and the dawn of ‘neuromarketing’ — a scary term that sounds like it could have been invented by William Gibson. While neuromarketing can refer to any shopping experience, online merchants are perhaps exploiting it most fervently, with their websites and usability primed to get you shopping how they want you to shop.
Many such techniques will seem familiar once you read about them, but they’ve come to feel so natural – even helpful – when shopping online, that we rarely question them. One click shopping, for example, feels like a convenience but it makes for instinctive (or accidental) purchases that feel like a decidedly worse idea when your credit card bill arrives. If that’s a concern now, just wait until Amazon adds a one-click-purchase button to your refrigerator!