Emerging Platforms Opinions Uncategorized

NeuroMarketing: Buzzworthy or Just Hype

Posted by Brian Easter on August 31st, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Marketing inherently entails a certain amount of psychological warfare.  Determining a target market’s thought patterns and utilizing their preferences to effectively boost sales is the underlying goal of every advertising campaign, while consumers are attempting to be more discerning and insusceptible to campaigns.  With neuromarketing, marketers are offered the opportunity to understand consumers’ mental biases from the inside out, potentially elevating everyone to the level of marketing geniuses.

Neuromarketing: The Process

The implications of neuromarketing are broad and open to interpretation.  What is more concrete are the techniques used to yield results.  Neuromarketing can simply be described as an analysis of different areas in the brain that respond to marketing stimuli.  These areas in the brain, usually monitored by fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) will be inundated with oxygenated blood, therefore providing a distinct and indisputable reaction to a marketing campaign.

Neuromarketing’s success hinges on the ability to predict consumers’ predilections in an entirely new way; instead of relying upon individual analysis of how consumers will react when faced with a buying decision, the buying cycle can be observed and consumers’ opinions throughout the process will be transparently defined instead of subjectively interpreted.

Neuromarketing: The Problems

The big “but” in the fabulous field of neuromarketing is composed of three components; money, ethical dilemmas, and unproven claims of neuromarketing.  Neuromarketing is expensive; the combined costs of neuromarketing machinery and skilled professionals to conduct the initial research can cost millions of dollars.  The prohibitive expenses currently involved restrict neuromarketing to large companies with expansive marketing budgets, but these same companies may still be hesitant to employ neuromarketing until the remaining ethical dilemma is resolved.  Ethically, neuromarketing falls into an ambiguous category.

Although not technically crossing any legally defined ethical boundaries, opponents argue that neuromarketing provides too much access to consumer preference, and manipulates consumers’ free will.  However, for now, neuromarketing is in the clear to continue and no legislation exists to limit its implementation.

Finally, the bulk of advertisers are hesitant to invest in unproven techniques.  Although neuromarketing appears to be scientifically sound, real world conditions often differ dramatically from controlled research experiments.  The employment of neuromarketing on a large scale, which has been hindered by the first two factors discussed above, is the only definitive manner in which to verify that neuromarketing is not only possible, but beneficial to marketing efforts.

Neuromarketing: The Assessment

Advertisers are always eager to find the next gimmick or mechanism to gain a competitive advantage in their field.  Neuromarketing, however, is much more than a mere trick.  If the complications described above are resolved, neuromarketing could provide advertisers with the insight they need to create campaigns tailored to appeal to consumers needs, and develop a stronger understanding of what consumers want.

About Brian Easter

Brian Easter is one of NeboWeb’s founders and is driven by two things: a love of interactive marketing and a duty to bring home the bacon-flavored tofu (AKA dog food) for his two dogs. While he does enjoy the simple pleasures in life, such as driving his car as fast as possible on the interstate while his passengers cower in the backseat, his true passion is helping clients make the most of the web.

4 Responses to “NeuroMarketing: Buzzworthy or Just Hype”

  1. I was underwhelmed by the book "Neuromarketing". I know the book and the field aren't the same thing, but the book was a pretty simplistic repackaging of old sales information with the claim (totally unsupported and lacking citations) that the latest scientific research supports the authors' assertions.

  2. Verilliance says:

    Great post on neuromarketing. I just wanted to comment on a couple of things. Particular regarding the ethics. It is ambiguous for sure, but when you consider that the decisions we make are already largely unconscious (some experts claim up to 99%) then we're still making purchasing decisions based on factors we're not even aware of! In fact, even when we think we've made a thought-out logical decision, the truth is our brain has tricked us by coming up with a "logical" reason after the decision has been made, we're just not aware that the "logic" came after.

    So, one way to look at it is that neuromarketing has the potential to make the average consumer more aware of their biased decision making processes.

    One must also consider the potential for good that neuromarketing has. Contrary to your statement, neuromarketing is not as expensive as millions of dollars. The use of EEG headsets, proprietary software, and the need for fewer subjects makes it an affordable and more effective marketing tool. Therefore, reasonably sized non-profits could glean some insights about how to reach more people -- as just one example for the potential for good.

  3. Ivan Guel says:

    Neuromarketing is not unethical. Neuromarketing is unethical when you use the discipline for the wrong reasons. Already political parties use the fear of terrorism to tap into voters minds. Americans are lining up to vote with one thing in mind these days... who's going to stop the terror and who's going to save our economy. Apart from politics, the media uses Neuromarketing. Fox news uses neuromarketing... in a guerilla style subliminal advertising way. If you have TIVO, put the Fox News intro in slow motion... you'll be surprised at the random subliminal words that run across the screen, used to lure minds. Neuromarketing has a lot to do with social behavior, and if you have a good understanding of subjects like social categorization, then Neuromarketing as a discipline begins to look like what CGI scripts are to programmers... a bridge between science and social behavior.

  4. Very interesting concept. I agree that large companies will be hesitant to jump into this field - right now that is.

    In ten years though....well you know how technology tends to get better, cheaper and more accessible over time.

Leave a comment