Neuromarketing is a relatively new marketing tool used to make strategic decisions and guide marketing strategy. NeuroMarketing is part of a marketing philosophy that examines marketing from the perspective of biological responses to marketing efforts. The appeal of Neuromarketing is its relationship to hard science, where experimentation leads to concrete answers. Alternatively, when organizations ask consumers what they like their answers are filtered through biases and need
to provide answers that fit societal norms.
According to Wikipedia, NeuroMarketing:
studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. Researchers use technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, electroencephalography (EEG) to measure activity in specific regional spectra of the brain response, and/or sensors to measure changes in one’s physiological state (heart rate, respiratory rate, galvanic skin response) to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what part of the brain is telling them to do it.
Marketing strategy is NOT science
There are a number of sites if you’re interested in the science behind Neuromarketing. You can try this blog site, the Wikipedia site where I got the definition, or this post from Public Broadcasting (PBS).
I’d like to talk about the Marketing aspect, especially using Neuromarketing as part of your marketing strategy.
By tracking the response of consumers to various stimuli (usually images such as pictures or other visuals and sounds such as music or words), firms can tell when the stimuli aroused the consumer. If MRIs are used, firms can estimate the degree of interest aroused by a particular ad (by how brightly it lights up the brain when viewed) and even estimate which emotions are generated by the ad (by observing which parts of the brain light up — some centers are more cognitive, some more affective or emotional). Galvanic skin response, heart rate, and respiration rate are the classic elements of a lie detector test used, in this case, as a surrogate for brain processes because they correlate with brain activity.
Eye movements, while not strictly part of Neuromarketing, are also sometimes used to track biological responses to stimuli either alone or in conjunction with measures of brain activity. Firms might attempt to assess how long a consumer views an object, such as an ad, or get more specific details by looking for eye changes, such as pupil dilation, that signify arousal.
Here are some contexts where Neuromarketing might be used:
- Advertising Testing – increasingly, neuromarketing is used by advertisers to test alternate advertisements
- Movies – testing might be used to assess interest in actors, decide between alternate endings of a movie, or select movie sequences to include in the movie trailer.
- Brand testing – neuromarketing might help in selecting brand names that resonate with consumers, as well as how strongly they feel about a brand and whether their response to a brand is cognitive or emotional.
Warnings about using neuromarketing
- First and foremost, human brains are not computers and buying decisions are not based entirely on measurable brain activity. Other aspects impact consumers’ buying decisions including elements of the marketing strategy, such as pricing. Shopping pals — friends you go shopping with — also impact decisions by giving you feedback as you shop and some decisions may not be based on your own preferences but may reflect the preferences of family, co-workers, roommates, and others affected by product choice.
- Learning affects buying decisions. Hence, while the brain may respond in a particular way to stimuli, the consumer may not have the same response when they encounter the product in a retail environment. Subsequent stimuli may have modified the original response to the brand or the original response may not be remembered. For instance, the consumer may not recall the commercial or their response to it when they are shopping later for products.
- Even MRIs lack a certain element of specificity so its difficult to determine the meaning of brain responses to stimuli.
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