MELBOURNE: Marketers may be able to define their target audiences, but messages sent are not always aligned to purchase triggers, a leading strategic consultant has said.

According Dr Peter Steidl, Principal at Neurothinking, segments are often defined by variables that do not actually drive purchase decisions at a neuro level.

This means the segmentation may be useful when it comes to execution, but is not particularly relevant with respect to strategy development. (For more, read Steidl's exclusive report for Warc: How neuroscience can make segmentation and understanding purchase behaviour easier.)

He says purchase behaviour is driven by dedicated brain circuits that have been established in the consumer's mind, driving behaviour over long periods of time – sometimes all their life.

The Deep Rooted Drivers of Behaviour (DRDs), as Steidl calls them, create goals that consumers want to address and which drive purchase decisions.

When a consumer feels she is addressing a goal with a purchase, she will also experience emotions, with a dopamine induced feel-good state typically the most prominent amongst them.

A brand will be more likely to be chosen if the consumer feels it will address her goals more effectively than other affordable and accessible brands.

Factors such as age and gender also influence these drivers of behaviour, Steidl says, and marketers should be aware of how these changes can affect the perception of their product.

One such deep-rooted behaviour that can affect marketing is that brains seek shortcuts that eliminate the need to think.

This is hugely important to marketers because it offers an opportunity to develop decision-making shortcuts and then prime consumers to take them.

Shopper marketing is primarily based on activating this shortcut tendency, although shortcuts and associated primes can also be delivered effectively at touchpoints outside the immediate shopping environment.

Data sourced from Warc