Neuromarketing: The New Science of Persuasion

neuromarketing

Businesses can keep track of their customers’ purchases and identify their tastes and preferences. But it is difficult for these businesses to unearth the reason as to WHY a customer buys that certain product. This problem has always perplexed marketers and business owners. It grants entry of a fledgling field called neuromarketing. This field uses neuroscience to determine the reason behind customers’ various purchase decisions. Back in the 1950s, two scientists at McGill University accidentally discovered an area in rodent brains which was the “pleasure center”. Further research proved that these pleasure centers were very much similar to the pleasure center that existed inside human brains. These lab rats were presented with the opportunity to stimulate their pleasure centers via a lever-activated electrical current, they pressed the lever repeatedly without eating or resting. Ultimately most of them dropped dead from exhaustion. This was a big scientific breakthrough. However, the goals of corporations and academia are different, where the former wants to sell more stuff and the latter wants to expand their means of research.

Human beings are much more complicated than rats. Human psychology dictates that we are largely directed by what makes us feel good, especially when it comes to purchasing decisions. Major corporations all over the world have started taking interest in understanding the human brain better so that they can come up with improved products through the understanding of consumer’s brain.

People are very much simple when it comes to expressing what they want. The actual complexity lies in assigning values to different brands and why they select a certain product over another. That is where neuroscience comes in to reveal the hidden elements of the decision making process.

What is Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is nothing but the application of neuroscience to marketing strategies and includes the direct usage of brain imaging and other measurements of brain activity to discover the subject’s response to specific products and brands. The results of these measurements may not even be consciously perceived by the subject many a times, hence this data is more revealing than surveys and other such methods of gathering information regarding tastes and preferences.

What neuromarketing also includes is the usage of neuroscience tools in marketing. A great example would be usage of fMRI and EEGs. Researchers often find that a particular stimulus can generate responses in brain that are consistent throughout, and can be correlated with a desired behavior. Any marketing campaign that employs the usage of affecting the stimulus to create a certain behavior is said to incorporate the main tenets of neuromarketing. And, that doesn’t necessarily imply that you need any test subjects.

What are the tools associated with Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing uses a wide number of tools to measure consumer behavior. From relatively simple approaches like eye-tracking, facial expression analyzer and behavioral experiments, to complex biometrics that involve heart-rate, rate of respiration & perspiration etc. Neuromarketing also seeks help of neurometrics that measure electrical activity like EEG and blood flow, monitored by fMRI in the brain. The EEG and the fMRI have different strengths and weaknesses. With EEGs, the cap of the electrode that is used to get electrical readings sits on the surface of the subject’s head, so it is impossible to explore the deepest areas of the brain with EEG. On the other hand fMRI uses a giant magnet to track blood flow throughout the brain as subjects respond to various changes in stimuli. But fMRIs have logistical limitations and running costs are pretty expensive.

How do Marketers benefit from Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is not a new type of marketing. It is simply a process of diving deep inside the consumer’s brain to know what is driving them and how you can earn more revenue by improving your product accordingly.

Here are five major ways marketers can benefit from Neuromarketing:

1. Branding: Neuromarketing provides you really powerful techniques to measure brand association’s in a consumer’s brain. By analyzing the information, marketers can improve their brands for better sales. Tough decisions like brand renaming, brand colors, logo redesign can be decided with neuromarketing.

2. Product Design: Another important aspect of a product is its design. Its design is what consumers see when they first lay eyes on it. By measuring brain activity marketers will be able to figure out whether a product design is suitable for their product or not before you even launch it in the market.

3. Advertising: Advertising has a way of affecting us in a non-conscious way. Even if we don’t think about it, it affects us much deeper in our brain. Neuromarketing reveals to marketers as to exactly how their advertisements would affect a subject.

4. Online Campaigns: Neuroscience reveals that our brain can be influenced as we go on about our online activities and this fact helps marketers to craft suitable marketing campaigns in order to affect our brains.

5. Entertainment: Entertainment often creates a soothing effect in people’s minds that influences a lot of preferences and actions. Neuromarketing helps reveal the ways how entertainment can be used for marketing purposes in order to increase sales.

Marketing Campaigns with the help of Neuromarketing

One of the finest examples of such a marketing campaign would be one dating back to 2008 where Frito-Lay wanted to know how consumers responded to one of their top-selling brand Cheetos.

Using EEG, it was soon established that consumers responded strongly to the fact that their fingers turned orange due to residual cheese dust after having a serving of Cheetos. With this data, Frito-Lay went ahead and released this ad as part of their ad campaign called “The Orange Underground”, featuring a 30 second clip where the Chester Cheetah, the Cheetos mascot encouraged consumers to commit subversive acts with Cheetos. The commercial that has been linked shows an airline passenger sticking a piece of Cheetos up the nostrils of a snoring passengers to stop the snoring. Bottom-line, Frito-Lay won the 2009 Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation for this.

Another example would be this Porsche ad. While viewing this ad you will have to realize that the concept of neuroscience can be used in different ways.

Rather than using it for data, you can use the concept itself to influence consumers. It is like putting a bikini-clad woman next to your product for the people who think they are above the ploy. The Porsche ad in question shows a neuroscience experiment where it is shown that the brain reacts in a similar way while driving a Porsche and while flying a fighter jet. But the truth behind the ad is that the measurements are impossible.

For neuromarketing to be useful to marketers, it should predict marketing success before time just by analyzing. There have been only two such studies that come close to prove this. While one study claims to show brain scans suggested which ads would perform better, the other is more genuine than the former and reports that the brain’s rewards system responds highly to newly released songs that garner commercial success later on. The entire concept of neuromarketing is extremely fascinating and attractive. But it is also misleading because consumer behavior is not really the bottom-line of your business. It is not neuroscience which is powerful but the constant experiments to find which attracts consumers the most.

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