Neuromarketing: The Science, Art and Opportunity
As you walk down the cereal aisle during grocery shopping, you’d notice the bright colors with which they are packaged. Companies are constantly trying to appeal to your emotions, from colors that appeal to your emotions to the strategic placement of products and stores.
Marketing has gone beyond beating the numbers set by the competition; people now buy emotions. Since companies now understand that emotions sell, the battle to gain the customers’ attention has increased.
It is impossible not to have noticed the constant bickering Coca Cola, and Pepsi engage in with their Ads.
Another brand that’s constantly fighting to gain the attention of their customers is McDonald’s and Burger King.
While they dish out Ads and offers to show their supremacy over the other, your attention is their focus.
More businesses are beginning to attack marketing from the neuroscience point of view. So, understanding what appeals to the consumer’s emotions by studying consumer’s brain functions and psychological behavior is the key.
On the other hand, psychological manipulation is the fear consumers have about neuromarketing. Therefore, to gain more insight into how Neuromarketing works, understanding the concept is a good place to start.
WHAT EXACTLY IS NEUROMARKETING?
Neuromarketing has to do with the study of the brain’s response to help inform company’s adverts, product pricing and development, and other aspects of marketing. Unlike traditional marketing, Neuromarketing has to do with the use of technological tools.
Researchers have to measure the brain’s activity and study the reason behind consumers’ behavior. To do so, tools such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be used to measure certain brain activities in reaction to adverts.
In other words, Neuromarketing uses technology to understand the way the brain responds to advertising materials. In return, companies learn the ‘why’ behind consumers’ behavior and design their products, price, and adverts to suit consumer behavior.
The neuromarketing industry is estimated to be a two billion dollar industry. About 120 firms currently employ brain study in their marketing target. It is also not a cheap method to employ in marketing as the tools can be quite expensive. For instance, the fMRI machine can cost as much as $5 million, excluding set up fees.
Some companies that employ the Neuromarketing strategy include Google, MediaVest, Microsoft, PepsiCo, The Weather Channel, eBay.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND NEUROMARKETING
Looking at the term Neuromarketing, it is easy to notice that it is the combination of two fields, science, and marketing. According to the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA),
“Neuromarketing studies which emotions are relevant in human decision making and use this knowledge to make marketing more effective.”
Neuromarketers study the psychological response of the consumer to products. To do this, they have to track the brain’s activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).
Since Neuromarketing is a science-based career, a degree in neuroscience or psychology is needed. The Neuromarketer will have to use the fMRI machine to track the subject’s blood flow as they respond to audio and visual cues.
Besides, you already know that the brain can only take as much focus as it wants. So, finding out what goes on inside the mind is imperative for the marketer.
Using these scientific tools will enable the researcher to gain access to the “pleasure center.” From the response, marketers can analyze how people respond to their work.
NEUROMARKETING IS AN ART
If Neuromarketing were communication, the scientist encodes the message and sends it to the marketer whose duty it is to decode it and send feedback. This feedback will be seen in the adverts, product reconstruction, and the likes.
Companies invest a lot in their products and want to see it succeed. So, they turn to Neuromarketing, a discipline that enables them to understand the impact of marketing stimuli on people. After spending huge amounts of money on observing and interpreting their consumers’ emotional reactions to marketing stimuli, results are needed.
Therefore Neuromarketing as the art will focus on how the Neuromarketer utilizes the results obtained from the research and brain study in creating marketing strategies. The following are the results brands gained from Neuromarketing.
The Weather Channel
EEG, skin response, and eye-tracking methods were utilized to measure a viewer’s reactions to different promotional materials on one of the channel’s popular series.
PepsiCo partnered with NeuroFocus and tested its consumers’ response to Baked Lays. This resulted in the creation of a new single-serve package of the product, as well as an ad campaign that the test informed.
This Croatian based agency utilized to use EEG, eye tracking, and facial coding to test subjects on TV ads. The research was lead by Dalibor Šumiga, behavioral marketing specialist, and was to check for the reaction of the subject to packaging design, product usage, and brand values.
NeuroFocus also partnered with eBay to carry out tests on consumers. After measuring their brain activity and emotions, eBay was able to redevelop a new brand identity based on the results.
The motor car brand used fMRI to read the reactions from the pleasure center of the brain after creating a campaign that used car headlights that were reflections of human faces.
Campbell’s and Frito-Lay
These brands used neuromarketing to reimagine their packaging. A study carried out showed that consumers responded to their packaging, and their responses were recorded. This process led to a review of their package in terms of text, color, and imagery.
In other words, Marketers were able to design campaigns based on the results of the tests carried out using Neuromarketing. That is to say, marketers were able to create artistic campaigns from the interpretation of the tests.
MASTERING THE SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES OF NEUROMARKETING
Before applying neuroscience to marketing, several qualifications are needed. Neuromarketing is a discipline offered in several universities, either as a Bachelors’s degree or as a Master’s degree.
For instance, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, offers a Master’s Degree in Neuromarketing and the entry requirements include psychology, social science, advertising, communication, etc.
There is also an opportunity to gain experience in the neuromarketing space while working on a degree or post-academic stage. Checking out several companies with openings is a way to gain experience while studying.
Neuromarketing includes the study of the brain’s activities, eye-tracking, and facial coding using some powerful tools to help improve the impact of creative content. So the neuro marketer has to have proficiency in neuroscience and psychology. Here are some techniques used in Neuromarketing.
When it comes to carrying out tests to determine what the consumers’ preference is, the marketer may decide to use the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).
Although it is the most invasive and expensive of the methods, it is considered the standard for the measurement of certain emotions.
Furthermore, the fMRI is used to detect the flow of blow in the brain and monitor emotional responses. The result can be used to improve the brand, set prices, and set campaigns. The downside to using the fMRI is that it must be carried out in a lab.
On the other hand, the EEG (electro-encephalogram) technique is used to record electrical signals from the brain. Although it is not as precise as the fMRI, its result can be used to improve on the brand and ads campaigns.
A less expensive and invasive technique would be the Eye-tracking (Gaze/Pupilometry) method. It measures the subject’s gaze or the dilation of their pupils. It is used to measure the speed with which the subject recognizes an ad, what grabs their attention and what puts them off.
With results from the test, markers can improve the aesthetics of their brands and ads. The downside to using this method is that it does not measure the subject’s emotions. To get better results, biometrics should be used with the eye-tracking method.
While the other techniques seek to interpret brain activities, Biometrics seeks to measure the heart rate, skin conductance, and respiration. It seeks to find out if the subject’s reaction to the ad is positive or negative. It is relatively inexpensive and is best used with eye-tracking methods.
Unlike other techniques, Facial Coding can be used to test multiple persons at a time. It is used to monitor the general emotional response that a person might give away. For instance, what was the subjects’ response to the ad? It is relatively inexpensive and measures facial expression such as surprise, happiness, disgust, fear, etc.
THE NEUROMARKETING DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY
It may seem that the spotlight on neuromarketing is in the United States of America.
However, according to Google trends, neuromarketing is of global interest. Although it may seem that Spanish speaking countries occupy the top spot in countries interested in the mind and marketing discipline.
Peru comes first on the list with El Salvador coming behind in the fifth. The top related search includes how to get a Masters in neuromarketing. In the U.S, while in 2019, the interest rate was at 75%, it is now at 50% with the top search in Oklahoma.
On the other hand, there are still a few academic programs focused on neuromarketing. It is still quite difficult to navigate the neuromarketing field, as there are no universal career path or job descriptions. In the U.S alone, few universities such as the University of Akron, Temple University, and Iowa State have areas dedicated to the disciplines.
Since there’s no clear academic path when it comes to neuromarketing, interested parties in the discipline can become creative.
When a clear neuromarketing discipline is unavailable, related courses such as consumer behavior, psychology, or neuroscience courses will suffice. It will be an added advantage to have economics or business-related degrees.
Neuromarkers can function in different fields. They may become Data Specialist, Data Analyst, Clinical Research Assistant, Neuromarketing Researcher, Eye-tracker Analyst, etc. Neuroscience Marketing is like an untapped mine filled with opportunities based on the design of the user.
Also, basic skills are needed to get into companies offering neuromarketing careers. Having a strong base of practical and academic skills can go a long way in carving a career in the neuromarketing field.
Since technology is constantly changing, having interpersonal skills and a practical skillset can help one adapt.
THE POTHOLE OF CHALLENGES IN NEUROMARKETING
The combination of neuroscience and marketing is relatively new and not a common practice.
Although it holds a lot of promise for businesses and research, it faces some challenges. These challenges may include the following;
Lack of Multidisciplinary groups
Neuromarketing is not a standalone discipline. Since it is the combination of neuroscience and marketing, it is multidisciplinary, and to have better results, there should be a group with very different backgrounds on each test.
Professionals ranging from neuroscientists, marketing/ data experts, physicists, psychologists, and doctors may be needed depending on the technique to be used.
It is difficult getting such a team as the requirements for a multidisciplinary team is dependent on the research purpose, technique, and equipment used.
Lack of Funds
Getting funds for neuromarketing projects can be daunting. Since it is a relatively new area, getting research funds in Latin American is more difficult as compared to with developed countries.
Traditional research is cheaper to conduct than neuromarketing research.
High Cost of Research Equipment
Setting up a neuromarketing laboratory can be quite expensive. FMRI is one of the most expensive and difficult devices to use. Most of the companies that have used neuromarketing are top companies, which makes it difficult to practice the discipline on a large scale.
Doubts concerning the use of neuromarketing research still exist. Currently, there is no ethical consensus on the ethical standards neuro marketers should follow.
Also, the guideline for identifying and classifying consumer behavior is quite uncertain, making it difficult to form a team. Professionals are not sure of the methods to use and the teams to form, and it is a challenge to the advancement of the discipline.
THE FUTURE OF NEUROMARKETING
Ever wondered if one-day information will one day be extracted from our brains similar to how you transfer data via Bluetooth? Well, for now, Neuromarketing has not got to that level. Currently, traditional neuromarketing utilizes complex and sophisticated tools; even its most advanced technology, the fMRI, is expensive.
However, looking at advancing the neuromarketing discipline is looking into the means to study the place of emotions in the decision-making process of the consumers. There are few limitations with the current techniques of neuromarketing, and improvements are needed.
To improve on the existing techniques used in neuromarketing, a new field of research involving nanotechnologies is being postulated. Nanotechnology will develop the tools used in neuromarketing. For instance, instead of the intrusive fMRI, a less complex device can be used.
As it is, many new nanotechnologies are being created. For instance, the EEG headset and Galvanic Skin Response device are smaller and less intrusive devices. The Galvanic Skin Response device can be worn around the wrist, and they are used to measure emotional incitement and stress.
More researches are still being carried out to measure the usage of nanotechnologies. With the success of this researches, nanotechnologies can be employed in neuromarketing to regulate emotions in real-time.
Data collection will equally become easier, and research will become significantly less expensive. At the same time, data collected with reliability and validity of findings will greatly increase. Also, these devices should be unobtrusive and comfortable for the subject’s use during a test.
When looking at the future of neuromarketing, you cannot overlook the place of ethics. Currently, the ethics of the discipline is quite questionable. With the help of nanotechnology, a deeper understanding of emotional measurements can be gained. Creating an ethical framework that will protect the subject’s rights and team creation will be easier with nanotechnology.
It is also important to consider the place of artificial intelligence (A.I) in the future of neuromarketing. The application of the computer-based stimuli to marking should make data collection and processing easier on a larger scale.
Finding out what makes people tick when it comes to marketing can be a daunting task.
But it will prove to be very rewarding. Take restaurant marketing, for instance. Did you know that the best food descriptions can make you hungry or that longer food descriptions can help restaurant owners sell up to 30% more food? It’s a surefire way of luring customers in and making them feel that they’re getting a great value for their money.
However, with the help of neuromarketing, getting insight into how the mind functions have become easier.
Just by tapping into a consumer’s mind, brands can make better decisions.
It could be something as basic as how customers react to the colors of the product package. It could even be their reaction to a controversial advert. These neurological insights can help the company make better decisions.
On the other hand, it is important to note that the neuromarketing field is still advancing. It holds a lot of promise as a discipline, and its usage cannot be restricted to brands alone.
For now, the delight in knowing that emotional consumer reaction can be studied makes it cheaper and faster for brands to make crucial marketing decisions.
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