- 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.
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.
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.
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