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A recent study showed conclusively that pictures of chocolate cake and similar treats cause the brain to “light up” in recognition of the treat, and encourage (cause) desire.

Similarly, does the offering at auction cause the brain to fire up and say, “Oh, I want that …?”

There is evidence that the answer is, “Yes!”

The item can be a piece of pottery, a gun, a diamond ring, or a backhoe … the brain sees the item and then if there is the slightest predisposition towards wanting that item, consciously or not, the brain sends a signal that the item being viewed should be sought …

Besides this suggesting the benefits of auctioneers showing pictures of property for sale, it also suggests the merits of listing and showing pictures of whatever is being offered — maybe nearly all that is being offered — to help the brain trigger the desire for the property for the benefit of the seller.

Why is this interesting? Because for some, the selling at auction appears to be a demand-driven market. In other words, sellers offer items for auction, and potential buyers find what they want to purchase proactively — where the decision of what they want, and what they’re looking for, is already firm.

In this traditional model, buyers know what they want, and seek those items out, rather than enter the market more “open-minded.” However, what this research indicates is that the brain may have its own shopping list, to some extent, and be easily alerted to items the buyer is not otherwise actively questing.

Thus the more long-standing model dictates a demand looking for a supply, where actually the mind prefers — or, at least, acquiesces to an extent — a supply which can cause a demand.

Our auction this past Sunday at our auction house was just completed, and I was walking around talking with some of our buyers. One such buyer remarked, “I came to buy some jewelry, and look at all this other stuff I bought …” It would seem the jewelry was the demand-driven aspect and all that other stuff was the supply-driven aspect.

As we eluded in our article about The specialty auction (http://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/the-specialty-auction/):

    “… However, could Homer & Dee’s auction be 1,000 cameras and their other household furnishings? Could it be 20 cameras and their other household furnishings? I think the answer is “Yes” in both cases.

    In fact, auctioneers have “specialty auctions” within their other auctions all the time — such as a second auctioneer selling the cameras in another separate ring while the other auctioneer sells the household items.

    The benefit of this multiple ring auction seems to be that the household items gain the benefit of camera bidders’ secondary interest, and the cameras gain the benefit of the household item bidders’ secondary interest …”

In these types of scenarios, the demand-driven items initially attract bidders due to their conscious mind and then other items are sold primarily due to a supply-driven (brain-driven) model.

Live and online auctions differ slightly given this model. An online auction lists all the items offered — so what is presented specifically is offered, and if it’s not presented specifically, it is not offered. Yet, at a live auction, a sufficient number of items can be offered so as to attract an adequate number of bidders, so the remainder can be purchased by supply-driven methods.

Next time you attend an auction, or go shopping otherwise, notice if you are shopping for a specific item or items, or if you are being supply-driven, and thus the items are causing you to desire them.

This research indicates your brain is doing more of a, “let me see what you have, so I can decide what I want,” sort-of shopping than you might have suspected … which is good news for auctioneers.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Greater Columbus Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction and. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.