Illustration: CSA-PrintStock/iStock Illustration: CSA-PrintStock/iStock

A single shelf in a grocery store contains hundreds of different shapes, words and images. It can overwhelm consumers, which is why they only read 5% of packaging information. Companies can ensure their products get noticed with simple designs and colours that contrast nearby products, according to Diana Lucaci, CEO of True Impact Marketing, a Toronto-based neuromarketing firm. Featuring human faces that aren’t looking directly at the shopper also helps.

Most new products rarely get the chance to be noticed. “When people go to a store, 80% know exactly what they want,” Lucaci says. “You need to be able to disrupt that habit.”

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To do this, Robert Schmidt studies potential consumers. The president of Calgary branding agency reBox Creative Inc. once sat in a convenience store parking lot for four hours. He wanted to determine the best way to get consumers to notice a poster on the door promoting packaged meat. Knowing he had less than one second of their attention, he succeeded by using personified barnyard animals to achieve that look-at-me effect.

Schmidt suggests entrepreneurs spend the time watching shopping behaviour and interpreting non-verbal cues. “Do they go up and down every aisle? Do they only shop the sales? By getting inside their minds, you’ll learn how to best present your product,” he says.

One presentation tip? Lucaci’s research found that looking at prices triggers the same neurological response as pain—a reaction that’s mitigated with free samples.

This article is from the April 2015 issue of Canadian Business. Subscribe now!

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