23 Jan An introduction to Neuromarketing
Interest in the human brain for marketing purposes was already present in the 90’s, but the term neuromarketing was first introduced in 2002. It was around this time that companies like Coca Cola investigated neural activities and analysed brain scans when consumers viewed ads or interacted with products. The promise of having a look inside of people’s brain to see what makes them buy their goods was – and still is – a highly desired prospect for marketers. But what is neuromarketing exactly and how can it help you? Let’s take some time to explore what neuromarketing really is, how it’s used by companies, and how this technology impacts the field of marketing.
What is neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing is the study of people’s emotional and cognitive response to media or marketing stimuli. It uses the latest advances in brain and physiological sensor technology to learn more about the mental processes behind customer purchasing decisions. According to applied neuromarketing expert, Roger Dooley neuromarketing is…
“ … the application of neuroscience to marketing. It includes the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technology to measure a subject’s response to specific products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing elements. The brain responses measured by these techniques may not be consciously perceived by the subject. ”
The roots of neuromarketing go back to the argument, that humans use the emotional part of the brain when making decisions, not just the rational part. According to Freud, the most important part of the mind is the part we cannot see. He often used the analogy of an iceberg when describing the unconscious mind. On the surface, there is the top 5% of the iceberg – the consciousness, but, 95% of the iceberg is below the surface – the more significant unconscious.
Freudian theory assumes the unconscious mind governs our behaviour, probably more than people imagine. It’s not surprising that advertising strategies often appeal to both the conscious and the unconscious mind. There are all sorts of unconscious triggers that influence where and how people choose to spend their money. Neuromarketing can reveal what these unconscious triggers are by capturing emotions that might be difficult to verbalise, thereby helping marketers gain access to genuine and valid insights about the audience.
“About 95% of all thought, emotion, and learning occur in the unconscious mind – that is, without our conscious awareness.”
-Gerald Zaltman, in How Customers Think
Why marketers (should) use neuromarketing?
Emotions are central to ad effectiveness. There are many theories about how advertising works, but the general consensus across all modern theories is that emotions are at the heart of the relationship people have with brands. They influence our conscious decisions and drive our non-conscious decisions. Of course, message-based advertising is important, and communicating product attributes is still an essential part of the job for all brand managers. But more often than not, consumers base their decisions on less-than-rational considerations.
By using neuromarketing research, one can reveal emotions that are difficult to verbalise. The second-by-second physiological data that is recorded and analysed eliminates social compliances and shows even the smallest changes while potential customers watch content. While traditional market research techniques like focus groups and questionnaires explore the conscious, rational side of decision making, neuromarketing goes far beyond that by digging right into the minds of customers, exploring emotional responses to marketing stimuli.
The brain responses recorded are not consciously perceived by the customer; hence, this data is more revealing about personal preferences, emotional reactions, untold purchasing habits, than surveys, focus groups and other traditional market research methods. Contrary to classic qualitative research, results don’t depend on a moderator, an opinion leader or biases. It helps to gain access to genuine and valid insights about the audience.
How marketers (can) use neuromarketing?
Pre-tests are the most effective way to minimise risk costs. If a company launches a new video campaign, they can make sure they buy air time for your best-performing copy. Before launching the ads, potential customers are shown different versions of the ads, during which their brain activity is measured, revealing which versions elicit more powerful emotions. These insights let marketers optimise their campaigns before airing them to get the best results.
Marketers compete not only against close competitors, but against other ads for the same attention and money. With a post-test marketers can test ads that were already aired, and get insights on how these ads perform compared to competitors’ ads or the whole advert landscape. Complex emotional and conscious analysis can uncover in-depth knowledge about the marketers’ own ads as well as the industry standard ad-performance metrics. With a post-test marketers can benchmark their campaigns to others, and learn from their success or their mistakes in time for their upcoming campaign.
Neuromarketing research techniques
Neuromarketing research techniques vary greatly, but they all focus on understanding the same thing: how our mind works. At Synetiq, we use cutting-edge neuroscience and the latest biometric sensors to identify the unconscious emotional responses of the audience while customers are watching content. The neuromarketing research technology we use offers unconscious biometric insights directly from the viewers’ brain and body. Electroencephalograph for the brain (EEG), skin response sensors (EDA), heart-rate sensors (PPG) and eye-tracking devices are utilized in order to detect and record emotional responses of participants.
- The electroencephalograph, or EEG in short, is our main source of insight into the mechanisms of one’s brain. We use a fourteen-channel wireless EEG headset to derive surface brainwave information. With these neurological readings, we can assess emotional and motivational states in order to provide significant knowledge about emotional processes.
- Electrodermal response (EDR) measures one’s level of excitement and arousal. By attaching two highly-sensitive electrodes to the fingers, we measure constant changes in skin conductance, which tell us about the buzz and exhilaration a person experiences while watching a video. EDR highlights the most important moments which evoked excitement in viewers.
- Heart rate sensor (photoplethysmograph) uses pulse wave signals to derive heart rate variability and other features. This device measures one’s pulse by infrared light when attached to the skin.
- Our use of eye movement tracking (ET) is an effective method to pinpoint the area of one’s momentary visual attention. The results of these dynamic foci can then be conveniently aggregated to create a dynamic heatmap for video content.
From research to practical marketing
Let’s say a company wants to launch a new video campaign. To achieve the largest effect, one has to know which character, which voiceover and timing of the packshot convinces customers to convert. While surveys or focus group discussion can be informative regarding which characters or which voiceover to choose, the verbal or written response given to the question “do you like this character or that one?” may not always be the true answer. It might be more effective to measure what people truly think and feel, without asking them.
When measuring responses with neuromarketing, customers are shown a bunch of different versions of the ad, during which their brain activity is measured, revealing whether they get excited or not, weather they get angry or show any emotional response that they might not be aware of. The key process of neuromarketing is translating the results of data-gathering into actionable insights. Once the data is in our hands, trained analysts assess and benchmark content making suggestions to marketers about improving their content and communication. Thanks to these insights, advertisers can better understand consumer behaviour and adjust marketing in order to maximise its emotional performance, memorability and activation power.
This is one application of neuromarketing – the one Synetiq is best at – but as you can imagine, the possibilities are endless.
Neuromarketing is changing the field of marketing
The application of neuroscience to traditional marketing activities has yielded impressive results in the field of marketing. While in the past, your boss may have increased your budget and told you to buy more ads, sponsor additional events, or throw your logo on a bus stop to get better results, now it’s possible to get better results without an increase in marketing spending. Neuromarketing drives performance without having to increase your budget. The insights neuromarketing offers, help rethink marketing strategies and create smarter marketing that will boost the effectiveness of marketing efforts and optimise emotional performance without an increased spending.
As success stories are emerging from the strategic use of neuromarketing research, more and more companies are starting to trust and use neuromarketing insights to influence purchasing decisions. A commercial industry has started to emerge that not only offers novel ways of assessing consumer attention and emotion but it’s aiding marketing budget optimisation. While neuromarketing is only yet to take over the world, the footprint that this methodology is leaving on the field of marketing as a whole is already undeniable.
Are you interested in learning more? Check out these resources:
- A summary on Zaltman’s book How Customers Think
- Roger Dooley’s Neuromarketing blog
- Daniel Kahneman’s book (Nobel laureate): Thinking Fast and Slow
- Patrick Renvoise’s TED talk on Neuromarketing
- For a more scientific read check out Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience by one of the world’s leading applied neuromarketing practitioners
If you have more questions about neuromarketing and how you could benefit from it, ask ahead at firstname.lastname@example.org
The article was written by
Junior Marketing Manager