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Research Results

How do you feel about sales?

Author: Katie Hart

Date: 20 Mar 2022


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How do you feel about sales?

Thank you to everyone who took part in our recent study exploring the impact of sales messages on the brain. So, what did we find out?


Participants were given a range of four offers to choose from. All the offers were rationally, the same deal, that is they all provided the same financial discount. However, some used written words to convey their offer, while others used numbers. Some talked about the savings to be gained, whilst others talked about the amount of money that was being knocked off.

The four options were:

  • 50% Off
  • ½ Price
  • Half Price
  • Save 50%

As ever, one part of the study was carried out through my website, with respondents being asked to select the one which they felt they would be most likely to respond to. In another element, a number of participants came into the office and had their brains scanned using EEG technology whilst viewing the options.

Results – website

The website produced a very clear winner:

  1. ‘50% Off’ ………45.6% of the votes
  2. ‘1/2 Price’ ………25% of the votes
  3. ‘Half Price’ ……..19.1% of the votes
  4. ‘Save 50%’ …….10.3% of the votes

Results from EEG brain analysis

These provide us with a deeper understanding of why the web participants responded the way they did. When we examine the metrics for each of the offers made, we can see some interesting results:

‘50% Off’

  • This scored highest on the metrics of excitement, interest and focus, all of which means it is performing well
  • However, it also scored highest for stress – our assessment of the cognitive capacity required – indicating a feeling of overwhelm. This was much worse for male participants who presented an average of 18.26% higher than the females studied
  • Regarding engagement, it is a mixed picture. The males engaged least with this offer of all four they saw, while the females found it the second most engaging design

‘1/2 Price’

  • The standout result on this offer is that it was the most ‘forgettable’ of all those viewed by our female participants
  • This was also the offer which was most popular with the female participants. It was still only just over 50% so we are not talking much interest here, but of the four seen, this was the highest

‘Half Price’

  • Being the only offer without any numbers in it, this was harder work for the brain. Females in particular found this the most stressful of the four images viewed
  • This did result in greater levels of engagement though, making it the highest for females again

‘Save 50%’

  • This offer was not successfully received within the brains of our participants, but particularly the males
  • The overall score provided by this format was almost 25% lower than the next lowest
  • It also scored the lowest for excitement for both sexes, meaning that it would not easily motivate action
  • This was also the highest score for relaxation for male participants, suggesting that it is the least memorable of the offers viewed by males


For female customers, the ‘50% off’ design is definitely the most positively received within the brain. It engages them, holds their focus and they like what they see. It is also the most exciting for them, which is important as the excitement response indicates motivation to act.

For male customers it is not so clear. The high stress caused by this design could negate the other positive results. However, on balance it is still likely to be the most effective of the designs, as it indicated positive differences of approximately 10% across the other metrics.

What next?

Please don’t forget to get involved in this month’s research before it is too late. You can find a link to it on the right of this page or at the top of the main research page.

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