~ Dantalion Jones
Can marketers develop better products, advertising, or marketing messages by analyzing people’s cognitive, sensorimotor and affective responses to marketing stimuli? Proponents of Neuromarketing, an emerging field that mixes cognitive science and marketing, thinks so. In Neuromarketing, researchers use a variety of measurement tools (MRI, EEG, heart & respiratory ratse and galvanic skin responses) to measure changes in a person’ brain activity as well as physiologic states. These changes can show how different emotional states (e.g., anger, pleasure) can be generated by different external stimuli. This approach is not new. Lie detector tests use similar techniques.
Typically, marketers are keen to learn to understand how consumers respond to certain stimuli and why they make the decisions they do. Traditional measurement tools like verbal feedback is not always reliable as people often act differently than what they say or intend to do. This intent-action gap occurs when powerful yet hidden behavioral drivers – such as cognitive and social bias as well as the presence of subconscious needs – overrule conscious and rational intent. A classic example of this gap was the Pepsi-Coke marketing challenge. While most people taking the challenge consciously chose the taste of Pepsi, and those watching the ads believed that Pepsi did taste better Coke, actual consumer behavior (and market share) continued to favor Coke’s dominance.
Supporters of Neuromarketing believe they can bridge this gap and improve marketing effectiveness by understanding sub-conscious behavioral triggers and then tailoring products, images and message to what will actually stimulate particular parts of the brain. This makes Neuromarketing and its applied results a powerful tool but potentially subliminal in purpose and result.
Neuromarketing is already being used to market and design products and services. Some early applications of this science have included: analyzing the responses of viewers to television commercials and other forms of advertising; exploring the effects of looking at happy or sad facial expressions; exploring the mental states of motorists driving against a deadline and; examining how people react to an unexpected ‘freebie’ like a product sample. Outside of brand managers, political strategists and film producers are beginning to use Neuromarketing techniques to craft political imagery and slogans as well as make decisions on movie endings, character design or trailers.
On the other hand, some are skeptical of Neuromarketing’s scientific value and potential to influence consumer behavior. For example, the journal, Nature Neuroscience, said “…neuromarketing is little more than a new fad, exploited by scientists and marketing consultants to blind corporate clients with science.” Moreover, others have expressed ethical concerns around using science to seed subliminal messages in the brain in order to “prime” or create sub-conscious triggers to buy certain products or adopt certain political positions.
Contrary to the hype, the use of Neuromarketing techniques will never discover a so-called ‘buy button’ – some mythical region of the brain which need only be stimulated to compel consumers to purchase a product regardless of whether they actually want to do so. More realistically, Neuromarketing will provide commercial value by improving the identification and power of certain messages or visuals within advertisement, packaging and product design. Finally, a better understanding of how the brain works is of benefit to cognitive scientists and society in addition to marketers.
Thanks for reading.
Mitchell Osak – Strategist to the C-Suite
Mitchell Osak is the Managing Director of Quanta Consulting Inc. Quanta has delivered a variety of strategy and change management consulting solutions for global Fortune 1000 firms. Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/2010/07/27/neuromarketing-mind-control-or-breakthrough-marketing/#ixzz0vGkSQupM
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