Analyzing customer data can reap significant financial benefits for your organization’s success. Consumers can usually define what they want, how much they will pay, and maybe even what kind of promotional activities appeal to them. Understanding the roots of human emotion is vital in comprehending consumers’ purchasing behavior.

Enter Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is the study of how people’s brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages by scientifically monitoring brainwave activities, eye-tracking and skin response.

According to BrightHouse, an Atlanta-based consultancy firm, neuromarketing only seeks to understand “how and why customers develop relationships with products, brands, and the company itself.” The truth is that neuromarketing is simply the study of how the human brain reacts to marketing stimuli. This helps in understanding the primary reasons as to why consumers make the buying decisions they do.

How does it work?

There are two basic methods of tracking brain activity; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG):

  • Utilizing fMRI involves using a powerful magnet to track the brain’s blood flow as subjects respond to audio and visual cues.  This allows examiners to access a deep part of the brain known as the “pleasure center”.
  • EEG, on the other hand, is much cheaper than fMRI. By using a cap of electrodes attached to the sample’s scalp, that measure electrical waves produced by the brain and allow researchers to track instinctual emotions such as anger, excitement, sorrow, and lust through fluctuations of activity. However, unlike fMRI, EEG does not grant access to deep parts of the brain where the pleasure center is located.

Adopting this Technique

Neuromarketing has been around for around a decade now, but has gained a lot of popularity. Despite the cynics, major corporations are using this technology while designing their products, packaging, and advertising campaigns. Some of the giants who have joined the bandwagon include Walt Disney, Google, Frito-Lay, Chevron, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Hyundai.
Some examples:

  • For example, neuromarketing has recently been used to measure neurological response to Presidential speeches and movie trailers in order to improve how both are presented to the public.
  • It has found that warning labels on cigarette packages stimulate activity in a brain area associated with craving – despite the fact that subjects said that they thought the warnings were effective.
  • In another instance, Hyundai utilized neuromarketing when they gave thirty participants EEG caps and asked them to examine a car prototype for an hour. Information recorded by the electrodes were stored in an individualized hard drive and analyzed by experts.
  • Microsoft uses EEG data to better understand its users’ interactions with its personal and notebook computers, including feelings of “surprise, satisfaction, and frustration.”

How is a Neuromarketing Campaign developed?

Neuromarketing is most often used to market commercial goods and services. A neuromarketing campaign is more person-intensive. Whereas typical marketing draws broadly from a cross-section of customers, through a variety of methods (focus groups, surveys, customer records, cold calling, etc.), neuromarketing focuses on individual marketing test subjects.

  • MRI and EEG machines are used to monitor participants’ brain activity before, during, and after exposure to neuromarketing techniques. Other physiological sensors that monitor heart rate, breathing, and skin response may also be used.
  • Neuromarketing depends on a process known as priming—an electrochemical reaction set off whenever a topic is first introduced. Even before the conscious mind becomes aware of a stimulus; the subconscious mind has already begun to process it and respond—all in the course of a single second. Neuromarketing is most concerned with that “second” when the response is first formed.
  • Once a consumer’s brain is primed, new stimuli is introduced to allow the brain to compare this new information with what it already knows, and to form and express conscious opinions about the product itself.
  • Once all the data has been collected, the marketing campaign itself becomes more like any “traditional” marketing campaign. Based on the neural and sensory data collected, the broader marketing team will further develop and adjust the campaign in order to create maximum engagement, and memory retention, with consumers.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The market today is customer dominated and neuromarketing helps the companies to have an insight into the modern consumer’s mind so that they can cater them in the best possible way. This process can provide fresh viewpoints and it also uncovers emotional and non-conscious responses.

It is important to understand what neuromarketing can or cannot achieve. It has limitations and advantages, and is more costly than traditional focus group testing. Further, it is difficult to convince customers to be a part of this kind of study. Even if its cost factor is kept aside, neuromarketing still has a range of skeptics. Concerns include accusations of “brainwashing”, how much brain behavior actually affects consumer behavior, and the inability to employ neuromarketing techniques in the business-to-business arena. Some neuromarketing experts say that companies should disclose the procedures and results of their research to avoid accusations of irresponsible behavior.

Still, as its users from top brands confirm, neuromarketing has already captured the market’s attention, as researchers continue to conduct more studies in this field, for further refinements.

The beauty of neuromarketing is its ability to integrate into both your outbound and inbound marketing strategies. Adding a touch of neuromarketing to your existing marketing methods could give your company a formula for marketing success!


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