What Is Neuromarketing? Neuromarketing In A Nutshell

  • Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience and cognitive science to marketing. The strategy gathers information from the human subconscious to determine why consumers choose one product over another.
  • Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data.
  • Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.
DefinitionNeuromarketing is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles from neuroscience, psychology, and marketing to study and understand consumer behavior, preferences, and responses to marketing stimuli. It aims to apply insights from brain science to develop more effective marketing strategies and campaigns.
Key ConceptsConsumer Insights: Using neuroscientific methods to gain deeper insights into consumer preferences and decision-making processes. – Emotional Engagement: Understanding how emotions influence consumer choices. – Neuroimaging: Employing brain scanning techniques like fMRI to study neural responses to marketing stimuli. – Subconscious Processing: Investigating how subconscious brain processes impact decision-making.
MethodsNeuroimaging: Using techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain activity. – Eye-Tracking: Tracking eye movements to understand visual attention. – Psychophysiological Measurements: Monitoring physiological responses like heart rate and skin conductance. – Implicit Tests: Assessing implicit biases and preferences.
ApplicationsProduct Development: Designing products that align with consumer preferences at a neural level. – Advertising: Crafting ads that resonate emotionally with target audiences. – Pricing Strategies: Determining price points that trigger desired brain responses. – Retail Store Layouts: Creating store environments that optimize the shopping experience.
Ethical ConcernsNeuromarketing raises ethical questions regarding consumer privacy, consent, and the potential manipulation of individuals’ subconscious processes. Ensuring transparency and ethical standards is crucial in its application.
ImpactNeuromarketing can lead to more effective marketing campaigns, increased brand engagement, and improved consumer experiences. It can help marketers make data-driven decisions based on neural responses, enhancing the chances of success in the marketplace.
ChallengesChallenges include the high cost of neuroimaging equipment, the need for specialized expertise, ethical considerations, and the translation of neuroscientific findings into actionable marketing strategies.
ConclusionNeuromarketing offers a fascinating approach to understanding consumer behavior by delving into the inner workings of the human brain. While it presents ethical challenges and requires specialized knowledge, its potential for improving marketing effectiveness and consumer experiences makes it an area of growing interest in the marketing industry.

Understanding neuromarketing

For consumers, decision-making used to be easy. Today, however, they are inundated with information and even the simplest products come attached with endless choices. 

The humble bottle of mineral water is one such example, with hundreds of brands now selling the product in the United States alone.

This begs the question: how does a consumer choose between brands when there can only be so much variance in a tasteless product?

In other words, what makes a consumer choose Aquafina over Evian? There may be no clear-cut answer to these questions.

Nevertheless, the purchasing decision may be influenced by the design of the bottle or a personal experience the consumer had with the brand itself.

The point here is that consumers make most of their purchasing decisions subconsciously. Despite this fact, many businesses persist with traditional market research methodologies such as focus groups and surveys.

But if we accept that consumers cannot consciously express the subconscious reasons for a purchasing decision, we can then accept that traditional strategies are somewhat ineffective. 

This is where neuromarketing is useful since it is the only way to gather information from the human subconscious.

Using this information, marketing teams can better understand how to develop, price, and advertise products and services.

How is neuromarketing information collected?

This vital information is collected in two ways:

The measurement of neurological brain activity

Which directly measures brain activity related to specific brain functions using EEG, fMRI, and steady-state topography (SST).

For example, steady-state topography measures the speed of electrical activity on the surface of the brain and links variance in certain areas to specific metrics like memory coding and engagement.

The inference of neurological responses by proxy

This approach uses eye tracking, facial coding, and biometric data such as heart rate monitoring.

It is not as robust as the first method because it is not underpinned by true neuroscience and the resultant data allows for broader interpretation.

Using these approaches, neuromarketing has been used primarily in product design testing, user experience (UX) design, cross-platform testing, audio branding testing, rebranding, and second-by-second optimization of television advertisements.

Neuromarketing examples

It’s important to note that neuromarketing is an expensive undertaking for any organization. 

For example, an entry-level functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine can cost as much as $300,000, with premium machines retailing for more than $500,000.

What’s more, the price of a single electroencephalogram (EEG) study may run as high as $20,000.

This means neuromarketing is primarily used by large companies or those that are heavily subsidized. Examples include:


The search giant partnered with MediaVest and biometrics researcher NeuroFocus to evaluate how users responded to the semi-transparent overlay ads in YouTube videos.

Forty individuals took part in the study, with their responses measured against criteria such as emotional engagement and attention.

The Weather Channel (TWC)

This company also partnered with NeuroFocus in preparation for the launch of a new series entitled When Weather Changed History.

A combination of EEGs, eye-tracking technology, and galvanic skin response (GSR) was used to ensure the company’s commercials and documentary content had maximum impact on the viewer.


American snack-food manufacturer Frito-Lay analyzed the female brain to determine why most women preferred fruit and vegetables over its line of salty snacks.

The company discovered that the part of the brain responsible for processing memory and emotion was larger in females and they often looked for characters they could empathize and relate with.

Decision-making areas of the brain were also larger, which meant female consumers were more prone to feelings of guilt. In response, Frito-Lay redesigned its snack packaging to prominently feature healthy ingredients.

The company then released an advertising campaign making explicit connections between women, exercising, healthy eating, and of course Frito-Lay snacks.

Additional Case Studies

  • Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola, one of the world’s leading beverage companies, has employed neuromarketing to evaluate the impact of its advertising campaigns. By analyzing brain activity and emotional responses, Coca-Cola aims to create more effective and engaging ads.
  • Nestlé: The multinational food and beverage company Nestlé has utilized neuromarketing research to understand consumer preferences for its various products, including chocolates, coffee, and infant nutrition. This research helps in product development and advertising strategies.
  • Ford: Ford, the automotive giant, has applied neuromarketing to assess consumer reactions to car designs and features. This data aids in enhancing vehicle design and marketing approaches to appeal to target demographics.
  • PepsiCo: Similar to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo has ventured into neuromarketing to gain insights into consumer reactions to its advertisements and branding. This helps in refining marketing campaigns for Pepsi, Lay’s, and other brands under its umbrella.
  • Netflix: The streaming giant Netflix has employed neuromarketing principles to optimize its content recommendations. By analyzing user preferences and behavior, Netflix fine-tunes its algorithms to suggest TV shows and movies more accurately.
  • Unilever: Unilever, a consumer goods company, uses neuromarketing techniques to understand consumer perceptions of its personal care and household brands. This helps in packaging design and messaging to align with consumer preferences.
  • Procter & Gamble: P&G, a multinational consumer goods corporation, has explored neuromarketing to assess consumer responses to its product packaging and advertising. This research assists in improving the visual appeal and effectiveness of its brands.
  • General Electric (GE): GE, a conglomerate with diverse business segments, has applied neuromarketing principles to analyze how consumers perceive its technology products. This data informs GE’s marketing strategies and product development.
  • Volkswagen: Volkswagen, the automobile manufacturer, has used neuromarketing research to gain insights into consumer preferences for vehicle features and designs. This informs their product development and marketing campaigns.
  • Disney: The Walt Disney Company has incorporated neuromarketing into its theme park experience design. By understanding visitor reactions and preferences, Disney aims to enhance guest satisfaction and optimize attractions.
  • Campbell’s Soup: Campbell’s Soup conducted neuromarketing research to understand how consumers perceive and respond to different packaging designs and labels. This information helped them make packaging choices that resonate more effectively with their target audience.
  • Samsung: Samsung, a global leader in electronics, used neuromarketing to evaluate consumer reactions to the design and functionality of its smartphones and televisions. This data assists in refining product features and advertising strategies.
  • McDonald’s: The fast-food giant McDonald’s has explored neuromarketing to assess consumer responses to menu items, restaurant layouts, and advertising campaigns. This research aids in menu optimization and creating more engaging ads.
  • Amazon: Amazon, the e-commerce giant, employs neuromarketing principles to enhance the user experience on its platform. By analyzing consumer behavior and preferences, Amazon improves product recommendations and website design.
  • IKEA: IKEA, the global furniture retailer, has used neuromarketing to evaluate how consumers perceive store layouts and product displays. This information informs decisions on store design and product placement.
  • Audi: Audi, an automotive manufacturer, has applied neuromarketing techniques to gain insights into consumer preferences for car interiors, dashboard layouts, and infotainment systems. This helps in designing more user-friendly vehicles.
  • Nissan: Nissan uses neuromarketing research to analyze how consumers respond to car advertisements and branding. This data assists in crafting more compelling ad campaigns and messaging.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft has delved into neuromarketing to evaluate consumer reactions to its software interfaces and user experiences. This research helps in refining software design and user engagement.
  • Adobe: Adobe, a software company, employs neuromarketing principles to analyze user interactions with its creative software products. This informs updates and improvements to enhance user satisfaction.
  • Red Bull: The energy drink company Red Bull has explored neuromarketing to understand how consumers perceive its brand and advertising. This information guides their marketing strategies and event sponsorships.

Key highlights of neuromarketing

  • Definition: Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience and cognitive science to marketing. It involves gathering information from the human subconscious to understand why consumers make specific product choices.
  • Neurological Data: Neuromarketing collects data by measuring brain activity related to certain functions using advanced technology like EEG, fMRI, and SST (steady-state topography). This data provides insights into memory, engagement, and emotional responses.
  • Inference of Neurological Responses: In some cases, neuromarketing uses indirect methods like eye tracking, facial coding, and biometric data such as heart rate monitoring to infer neurological responses. While less robust, this approach allows for broader interpretation.
  • Consumer Subconscious: Consumers make many purchasing decisions subconsciously, influenced by factors they might not be aware of. Traditional market research methods like focus groups and surveys often fail to capture these subconscious factors.
  • Applications: Neuromarketing is used in product design testing, user experience (UX) design, cross-platform testing, audio branding testing, rebranding, and optimizing television advertisements on a second-by-second basis.
  • Cost and Accessibility: Neuromarketing is expensive, primarily accessible to large companies or those with substantial subsidies. Equipment like fMRI machines can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a single EEG study may cost up to $20,000.
  • Examples: Notable companies using neuromarketing include Google, which partnered with NeuroFocus to assess user responses to YouTube ads. The Weather Channel used EEGs, eye tracking, and galvanic skin response to maximize the impact of its content. Frito-Lay analyzed the female brain to understand preferences and redesigned its packaging and marketing accordingly.

Visual Marketing Glossary

Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy where the marketing and sales departments come together to create personalized buying experiences for high-value accounts. Account-based marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) approach in which marketing and sales teams work together to target high-value accounts and turn them into customers.


Ad Ops – also known as Digital Ad Operations – refers to systems and processes that support digital advertisements’ delivery and management. The concept describes any process that helps a marketing team manage, run, or optimize ad campaigns, making them an integrating part of the business operations.

AARRR Funnel

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Affinity Marketing

Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Bullseye Framework

The bullseye framework is a simple method that enables you to prioritize the marketing channels that will make your company gain traction. The main logic of the bullseye framework is to find the marketing channels that work and prioritize them.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Dilution

According to inbound marketing platform HubSpot, brand dilution occurs “when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in.” Brand dilution, therefore, occurs when a brand decreases in value after the company releases a product that does not align with its vision, mission, or skillset. 

Brand Essence Wheel

The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Customer Lifetime Value

One of the first mentions of customer lifetime value was in the 1988 book Database Marketing: Strategy and Implementation written by Robert Shaw and Merlin Stone. Customer lifetime value (CLV) represents the value of a customer to a company over a period of time. It represents a critical business metric, especially for SaaS or recurring revenue-based businesses.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers in sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down is several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics and more.

Developer Marketing

Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Digital Marketing Channels

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Field Marketing

Field marketing is a general term that encompasses face-to-face marketing activities carried out in the field. These activities may include street promotions, conferences, sales, and various forms of experiential marketing. Field marketing, therefore, refers to any marketing activity that is performed in the field.

Funnel Marketing

interaction with a brand until they become a paid customer and beyond. Funnel marketing is modeled after the marketing funnel, a concept that tells the company how it should market to consumers based on their position in the funnel itself. The notion of a customer embarking on a journey when interacting with a brand was first proposed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Funnel marketing typically considers three stages of a non-linear marketing funnel. These are top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Particular marketing strategies at each stage are adapted to the level of familiarity the consumer has with a brand.

Go-To-Market Strategy

A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.


The term “greenwashing” was first coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 at a time when most consumers received their news from television, radio, and print media. Some companies took advantage of limited public access to information by portraying themselves as environmental stewards – even when their actions proved otherwise. Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice where a company makes unsubstantiated claims about an environmentally-friendly product or service.

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Hunger Marketing

Hunger marketing is a marketing strategy focused on manipulating consumer emotions. By bringing products to market with an attractive price point and restricted supply, consumers have a stronger desire to make a purchase.

Integrated Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Myopia

Marketing myopia is the nearsighted focus on selling goods and services at the expense of consumer needs. Marketing myopia was coined by Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt in 1960. Originally, Levitt described the concept in the context of organizations in high-growth industries that become complacent in their belief that such industries never fail.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Meme Marketing

Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes consumer demographic data to identify the interests of a very specific group of individuals. Like most marketing strategies, the goal of microtargeting is to positively influence consumer behavior.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.


Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data. Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.


Newsjacking as a marketing strategy was popularised by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking describes the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and increase brand exposure.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Reverse Marketing

Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.


Remarketing involves the creation of personalized and targeted ads for consumers who have already visited a company’s website. The process works in this way: as users visit a brand’s website, they are tagged with cookies that follow the users, and as they land on advertising platforms where retargeting is an option (like social media platforms) they get served ads based on their navigation.

Sensory Marketing

Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

Services Marketing

Services marketing originated as a separate field of study during the 1980s. Researchers realized that the unique characteristics of services required different marketing strategies to those used in the promotion of physical goods. Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing that promotes the intangible benefits delivered by a company to create customer value.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy skewed toward offering a great experience to existing customers and incentivizing them to share it with other potential customers. That is one of the most effective forms of marketing as it enables a company to gain traction based on existing customers’ referrals. When repeat customers become a key enabler for the brand this is one of the best organic and sustainable growth marketing strategies.

360 Marketing

360 marketing is a marketing campaign that utilizes all available mediums, channels, and consumer touchpoints. 360 marketing requires the business to maintain a consistent presence across multiple online and offline channels. This ensures it does not miss potentially lucrative customer segments. By its very nature, 360 marketing describes any number of different marketing strategies. However, a broad and holistic marketing strategy should incorporate a website, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, public relations, in-store relations, and traditional forms of advertising such as television.

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