Confessions of a Neuromarketer Part 1: What is Neuromarketing and why does it matter?

“Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say.” (Ogilvy)...

8 Sep 2015 6458 Views

Neuromarketing is a hyped term that describes the use of neuroscience in advertising and marketing. It was first used by the BrightHouse Institute in Atlanta in 2002, when the company announced the opening of a new market research department that used fMRI as its basic research tool. Today, there are more than 120 neuromarketing agencies around the world, with even more companies offering neuro-based research among their services. Needless to say that, despite the harsh criticism against neuromarketing, this new field is here to stay. And, it is growing at a fast pace. 

All marketers want to understand consumers and their purchase decisions. Yet, 95% of the decision making process takes place at the non-conscious level. That explains why often people are not aware about the inner processes that drive their reactions and decisions. The latest economic theories, like behavioral economics, emotionomics, and value-based marketing (Marketing 3.0), don’t give much credit to this reality of human psychology. Neuromarketing, in my opinion, does a good job in acknowledging that there is more to consumers’ behavior than they are aware of, and this is the trigger that sets me on my quest!

neuromarketing, neuromarketer, buyer's brain

Neuromarketing researchers record each participant’s brain activity, eye movements, and biometric reactions (heart rate, respiration rate, skin conductivity, etc.) in real time by using specific devices that were initially developed for the medical world. The technology employed varies among companies, but most specialists use a combination of biometric measurements, EEG, and eye-tracking.

The Electroencephalograph (EEG) is a headset that records people’s brain activity (comprised of several brain waves that are present simultaneously). It is used in neuromarketing research to measure longterm engagement and to identify the specific elements (discrete features of the packaging or TV commercial, for example) that appeal to or are rejected by the consumer.

The eye tracking devices (ET) record participants’ eye movements, which are further translated into fixations, gaze paths, and gaze points. The data can be used in positioning research, product placement studies, and campaign layouts, and key-visuals testing. ET allows researchers to study consumer behavior – both in the real or virtual world. It allows the user to interact naturally with mobile devices (like tablets or phones) or with the products in a supermarket, enabling researchers to analyze where people look first and what are the elements that first catch their eyes.

The Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is a device that measures skin conductance and reflects the arousal level that is produced by a brand or product. It is considered to be a purchasing behavior predictor.

Other instruments used to measure consumers’ reactions are facial coding (which analyzes the micro-movements of different facial muscles and provides information about the emotions that people develop) and fMRI (which records the activity of neuronal structures situated deep in the brain and provides information about the primary emotions elicited when interacting with a stimulus).

By using these techniques and methodologies, neuromarketing research provides more accurate results than the traditional instruments that rely only on consumers’ declarative claims. That’s because “Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say.” (Ogilvy)

Read part two here

This is a guest post by Dr. Ana Iorga, the founder of Buyer Brain, the first neuromarketing agency in the TAAN Worldwide network. Ana has a medical degree and is currently a PhD Candidate at the Bucharest University School of Economics. She is an active member of the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association and a frequent speaker on the topic. Dr. Iorga is based in Bucharest, Romania.

Ana Iorga | @ana_iorga