In recent years, researchers have argued that most of the information that we perceive and interpret with the help of senses is processed subconsciously, without allowing conscious access. Making a decision and our behavior during this process are determined by unconscious emotions and therefore this influences our attention and response. Marketers and market research companies aim to communicate with the subconscious of consumers and their emotional side and better understand neuromarketing consumer behavior. The latest developments in technology and neuroscience allow direct measurement of their experiences.

What is neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is an innovative approach to market research, an emerging interdisciplinary field that uses neuroimaging technology (such as magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography) to reveal consumer preferences and perceptions, studying how the brain is affected by advertising and marketing strategies. Such experiments involve connecting subjects to various neuroimaging devices, asking them to perform tasks.

Identifying more accurate and efficient ways of marketing research is a fundamental challenge for each company, as people often cannot or will not verbally express their real thoughts, feelings, emotions, and reactions regarding a topic. Immediately after viewing an ad, they do not always know how to explain what they feel. A new way to tackle this direction and to overcome the difficulties in understanding consumer behavior is conducting neuromarketing research.

By tracking consumer responses to various stimuli (pictures, videos, words or other visual or auditory elements) neuromarketing specialists can tell what elements inspire and can estimate the interest aroused by a particular ad (looking at how certain brain areas are activated when the subject is in front of the stimulus).

Strong neuromarketing companies in the world have already identified predictors in the purchasing decision, using neuroimaging. Items placed into the shopping cart produce a positive emotional response in the brain and involve a brain response that can predict a purchase.

Neuromarketing research can identify consumers’ subconscious response and provide accurate neuromarketing consumer behavior data regarding their tastes and preferences in:

  • pretesting TV, radio, web and film, design, redesign and launch of products campaigns, brands, labels, packaging and images
  • choice of designs and colors for products
  • magazines and outdoor equipment
  • testing digital elements (content and web page design)
  • test reaction to taste, texture and smell
  • political campaigns
  • testing promotional materials and shelf position
  • brand preferences
  • trailers and other items in order to get maximum effect

When being subjects to marketing stimuli, subjects participating in such studies may activate certain brain areas that allow identifying elements that will lead to the success or failure of a campaign and the effects they produce in terms of emotional and rational response.

market research principles

Neuromarketing studies are useful for:

  • advertising agencies (in testing various elements, alternative ads, pre-testing campaigns)
  • web designers (in identifying how web pages are used and perceived)
  • media agencies and departments (to determine the effectiveness of purchasing advertising space on television, radio, magazines and digital media)
  • marketing departments (development of mix strategies, budgets, promotional materials, merchandising and pre-testing in campaigns)
  • branding departments (the choice of brand names, so that they resonate with consumers and identify cognitive or emotional response to a brand)
  • market research departments (to understand preference triggers and other insights regarding how and why consumers believe what they believe, do what they do and feel what they feel about certain products and brands)
  • product design and packaging departments (to identify consumer needs and to ensure ease of use, preference of colors and shapes and generate an emotional impact on the elements created)
  • strategists for political campaigns (to assess the elements of communication, proposals and debates)
  • film, radio and TV producers (for identifying and evaluating actors, for editing stage, for making a choice between alternative endings or select scenes from the film to include them in the trailer)

In early 2012 the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association was founded, a strong international network for those interested in this developing field, which holds the annual Neuromarketing World Forum.

The first forum, which took place on February 2012, in Amsterdam, brought together about 100 leading researchers and people interested in neuromarketing research, both from the academia and business environment, discussing the challenges and opportunities of using specific tools to enhance neuromarketing and add value to market research.

This year’s forum took place in March in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the next one will be held in New York, between 5th and 7th of March, 2014. Since this field addresses a range of issues relating to the ethics of such studies, the association has published its own code of ethics for this type of study, covering topics such as credibility, transparency, integrity, consent of subjects, information security and rights of participants in such studies.

To find put more about neuromarketing consumer behavior, “Neuromarketing: Understanding the “Buy Button” in Your Customer’s Brain”, by Patrick Renvoise may prove useful.

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