If advertising has one major goal, it definitely is to reach people at the moment and with the message that most influence their decisions. And these particular moments are just before their shopping trips.

This is where the power of PRIMING resides.

But what is priming?

This very powerful tool is the effect advertising is looking for. Using principles from psychology and physiology, priming can influence a shopper’s consideration set like nothing else could.

The observed effect is due to the fact that people seem to record and process certain perceptual contents (words, pictures, or videos) differently if they were previously, and at the right moment, prepared (“primed”) in a specific way for that content. Priming is therefore a type of rapid, easy and non-invasive preparation in becoming familiar and even fond with certain features of the product you are trying to sell. Exposing your prospects, for example, to different types of visual stimuli at the right moment in time it exponentially grows the chances for them to move towards your product and proceed with concrete actions. 

Here’s a short example of priming from Malcolm Gladwell:

Priming is being successfully used in various areas in advertising to generate more impact. If behavior can be influenced by triggers, experts pose the question as to what the properties of triggers should be in order to create certain associations among shoppers. 

Here’s a very popular and very illustrative example of the effects of priming and how to control the properties of its triggers on two creative gurus from an ad agency in London, put in scene by Derren Brown, the magician:

Priming works according to the psychological principle called associative activation, which describes how exposure to one idea automatically activates other associative ideas. It depends on our built-in propensity in the mind to imagine any pair of events that occur sequentially as a cause and its effect. It is evolutionally valuable for survival to get ready for future events that are most likely to happen subsequently. Therefore this evolutionary stage that we are at this point directs us to think and act according to this pattern.  We are genetically programmed to prepare ourselves for possible actions we need to take.

In today’s behavioral strategies powered market, many commercial companies are using priming in their advertising. The smallest detail could lead to great effects. Color, logo, or typology can help you to achieve the desired outcome. And because the results are easily seen in conversion, the uses of priming for your advertising can be endless. The perks of it is that it works for both online and offline buyer’s behavior and in both ways: online priming to physical purchase and offline priming to online purchase. With this being established, it means that shopping malls, for example, are among the businesses that benefit most from priming.


We see the shopping center as the “third place” where associations of happiness, leisure and beauty are critical for your commercial success. Visual priming will be your most prominent point of focus. You can prime your shoppers using visuals that make them feel more comfortable, confident or luxurious. If you add pictures, you should use positive priming in order to show and implement the feeling of happiness. Because smiling people will prime the visitor with other positive associations, this can increase your sales.


The time factor is particularly important. There is an optimal time before the desired effect on shopping, and these certain moments are the ones when advertisers should be using the visual factor. This will ensure that your product is top-of-mind right before people go shopping.

Sending the message at a propitious time, just before people are more inclined to do shopping, will make the most out of every advertising investment. 

And isn’t this exactly what you would like to achieve as an advertiser? To be top-of-mind at the precise moment when the context is highly relevant for your business? That’s the beauty of advertising done right. You can help people spend less brain power by being there just when they’re trying to think of where to go.

Less budget, more results.

With all of these coordinates in mind, we’ve developed the right algorithms to help businesses with this task.

Here’s how to setup a promo offer campaign that targets mall goers 2 hours before we predict they will go shopping:

Footprints for Retail How to setup a campaign with priming effect
Footprints for Retail How to setup a campaign with priming effect