Neuromarketing - Can We Play With Your Mind?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on December 29, 2012

Read Montague , a neuroscientist, conducted a taste test named ‘Pepsi Challenge’. It was found that the consumers liked Pepsi when they were blind folded but in normal conditions they preferred Coke. Have you ever thought why expensive wines taste better? What went awry with the recently introduced Gap’s logo or why Airtel has changed its logo after its South African acquisition?

A basic assumption in economics states that the customer experienced pleasantness (EP) comes from the product’s intrinsic properties and the experience in the past, though both the features are intangible properties of a product. This gives the marketer a different view. Their attempt will now shift to placing the product to kick in the brain. The traditional marketing approach does never, and was never meant to, measure the immediate response. The results obtained were far from desired output sometimes. With the advent of the new era, peeping into the brain of customer is possible. We termed it as Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is the application of cognitive neurosciences to the realm of marketing and marketing research. This field of study uses a brain mapping / neuroimaging medical technology, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study hemodynamics in the neuron activity of consumers at the time of selecting and buying a product.

Now that is a bit heavy dose of jargons. Neuromarketing is the same as doing traditional marketing with deeper insights along with the use of modern medical equipment. Neuromarketing applies cognitive neuroscience which deals with the capabilities of human beings such as attention, awareness, decision making, memory, action and many more. The term was coined first by Ale Smidts, a professor of Erasmus University of Rotterdam: neuroscientists were soon able to map brain waves with external stimuli.

Volunteers in marketing tests wear a fabric cap that houses EEG sensors and an eye-tracking device while they look at a commercial, use a website or view a movie trailer. The dual devices enable researchers to connect the volunteers’ brain patterns with the exact video images or banner ads or logos they’re viewing. By capturing brain waves, emotions, attention and memory are measured. The conclusions are then drawn. And these conclusions are now in demand and the process is booming in the market.

Is this working for Real?

Neuromarket researchers said that they can measure and can trigger the emotional response. For example: If a picture of a house in Palm Islands is shown to the volunteer it ignites the reward centre of the brain but simultaneously shows the brain having feeling of pain that may arise due to cost attribute attached to it.

This communication with brain is fabulous and the results are utile. Clients include Proctor and Gamble, Motorola, Hyundai, Microsoft etc. In 2008, Nielsen invested in Neurofocus, the largest of Neuromarketing firms adding to its credibility. The ability to watch how brain processes sensory inputs gives the marketers insights into designing their campaign, tailoring their products or extending their brands.

In June 2010, Pantene adopted a Neuromarketing application to redefine its advertising strategy and to compete against Suave and other low priced competitors. Though Pantene is already having brand value and recognition, it wasn’t able to explain its dropping sales. In one ad, P&G noticed viewers were distracted when a model, with a look of frustration, was trying to deal with her unruly hair; they were wondering why she was upset and stopped focusing on the rest of the advertisement. P&G re-edited the spot to focus less on the model’s expression and more on her hair.

Motorola used this to design its product, Google used Neuromarketing to measure effectiveness of YouTube, Microsoft used this to check the engagement of X-Box users. There are many more examples proving the effectiveness of the Neuromarketing.

A Forbes article said, “All this is moving towards an elusive goal: to find a buy button inside the skull”. Researchers, though, not so easily able to figure out the perfect response for any stimuli: they are therefore focusing their attention on primary urges of fear, power and reward. But the days are not far when such firms will be able to tell precisely whether any campaign will produce impact or not.

Reliable Science or Just a fad:

I react seeing certain things but who are you to decide whether I am happy or not?

The major parley is on how to draw a conclusion on the basis of mere reactions to certain things. Let us solve in this the other way; conduct more fMRI scans to obtain more precise results but each scan is costing you $3000. That’s a huge amount and risk too.

Also many scientists were reported to exploit the corporate clients for huge sums of money in the name of neuroscience. A view also suggested that Neuromarketing is little more than a new fad, exploited by scientists and consultants to blind corporate clients with science.

Also the role of magnetic resonance effect on the brain of volunteers due to fMRI scanning cannot be neglected. Many societies and organizations are raising their eyebrows because of this.

In conclusion, corporate are jumping over the fact that neuromarket may help to decode the consumer’s thinking and earn profits for companies who invest in it. But none of this is 100% proven fact. Also, the detrimental effects of such tests cannot be neglected. This is a new marketing tool, and it depends on whose hands it falls in.

This article has been authored by T Pranay from SITM

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