Neuromarketing: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?

Illustrated cover image of a man, showing his brain and neural network connections in his head - by mktr.ai

Humans make about thirty-five thousand decisions every single day. Many of these decisions revolve around automatic processes, non-conscious thinking.

As marketers, we can feel almost like mind-readers. We’re trying to know what’s going on in our consumers’ minds and what we can do to make them notice our brand.

Luckily, marketing has become more and more of a science and less of an art. With the growing demand of the marketing world and with the enhancement of cutting edge technology, neuromarketing techniques are playing a key role in transforming the digital world. 

If you don’t know anything about neuromarketing or how it can help your business, we’re here to shed some light!

In this article, you will understand how with the help of neuromarketing methods your brand can attain a global reputation bypassing all the competitors. We’ll cover:

  • What Is Neuromarketing
  • How Do Neuromarketing Techniques Work?
  • Neuromarketing Research Techniques
  • How To Use Neuromarketing to Grow Your Brand Value
  • Neuromarketing To Your Marketing Strategy

Let’s dive in!

What Is Neuromarketing?

According to Roger Dooley, Author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, “Neuromarketing is simply the application of neuroscience to marketing.”

That’s so general, isn’t? Now, let’s dig deeper…

Neuromarketing is actually technology-based marketing research aimed at observing consumers’ reaction to areas of the brain which respond to auditory stimuli or visual cues. It includes the immediate utilization of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain action estimation technology to quantify a subject’s reaction to particular products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing components. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s an informative video that could help you understand this topic better:

Now that you know that the fundamental goal of neuromarketing is to understand what people’s subconscious drivers are, how can marketing benefit from these insights? How does it really work? We’ll answer these questions throughout the rest of this guide.


How Do Neuromarketing Techniques Work?

Neuromarketing goes hand in hand with consumer psychology, marketing, as well as neuroscience. Neuromarketing gives you a deep insight into the causes of specific consumer behavior. 

Since 90 percent of the information that comes into the human brain is processed unconsciously, neuroscience gives us valuable insight into automatic human responses that influence consumer behavior.

With that, researchers use technologies that observe brain activity and biometrics (such as heart rate, eye tracking, galvanic skin response, facial coding, etc.) to determine how people respond physiologically to marketing messages. Neuromarketing examples might include:

  • Tracking eye movement to see which parts of a webpage grab the user’s attention first
  • Using EEG imaging of the brain to determine one’s emotional response to an ad or product
  • Determining which version of an ad generates the most brain activity, as seen in an fMRI scan. (We’ll discuss that later) 

As mentioned, the goal of neuromarketing is to better understand consumer behavior by gaining insight into the reactions and decision-making happening at the unconscious level. 

Neuromarketing helps digital marketers to understand the decision-making criteria and processes of customers, allowing marketers to develop more effective marketing strategies. Done right, this leads to better business outcomes <– that’s coded language for more $$$.

By contrast, traditional marketing research methods involve consumer surveys, focus groups and external observation to gather data about what people think, feel and believe. These traditional methods are better at revealing conscious decision-making processes but not the subconscious processes uncovered by neuromarketing research.

All in all, neuromarketing will help you understand how to get your target customers to do what you want them to do.

Neuromarketing Research Techniques

Let’s have a look at five neuromarketing research techniques that you can use to your marketing efficacy.

1. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) measures and maps brain activity through the detection of changes associated with blood flow. In this method, participants lie in a bed with their heads in a scanner.

Real talk: The scanner is like a large tube with massive spinning magnets inside it. It whirs loudly but almost lulls you to sleep (if you can relax). Honestly, getting an MRI can be a harrowing experience if you don’t like confined spaces, or if you’re a large person.

The MRI machine tracks the variations in blood oxygenation in the brain, which are correlated to neural activity.

Marketers can use fMRI neuromarketing research to uncover consumers’ preferences: if they feel attracted or repelled by a given feature, whether our brand interests or bores them. In the end, we obtain the answers to the same questions as traditional marketing studies, but with much greater accuracy and scientific evidence.

2. Electroencephalography (EEG)

The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a commonly used technique in neuromarketing, and besides being portable and relatively economical, provides valuable information on brain activity. With this technique, the brain’s electrical activity is analyzed and registered by a headband or helmet that has small sensors, which are placed on the scalp. EEGs detect changes in the electrical currents of brain waves.

This neuromarketing research technique is very useful because it evaluates the value of a marketing stimulus, obtaining a series of metrics such as attention, engagement, affective valence, and memorization.

3. Galvanic skin response (GSR)

The galvanometer is a technology that evaluates the galvanic response or skin perspiration. This method measures and registers slight changes in the responses of skin conductance. 

In other words, GSR measures subtle changes in skin perspiration of participants when skin becomes a better electricity conductor, which can occur due to an increase in the activity of endocrine glands (sweat) after exposure to a marketing stimulus that was physiologically exciting.

It can be used as an additional source of insight to validate self-reports, surveys, or interviews of participants within a study.

4. Eye-tracking

Eye-tracking (ET) is a technique that measures and registers eye movements to identify the position of the pupil by utilizing infrared light. In other words, it is a tool that allows your brand to see through your potential clients’ eyes, not only in labs but in real purchasing scenarios as well.

Eye-tracking provides information on temporal processes, with high resolution, at a reasonable cost. There is high acceptance from participants, and it is portable. Therefore, unsurprisingly, eye-trackers are one of the most employed techniques in neuromarketing research.

5. Facial Coding

Just as we use neuromarketing techniques to measure eye movement and brain activity, this science is also used to “read faces” with unprecedented precision. 

Facial coding measures and registers the voluntary and involuntary movements of facial muscles, but does not employ sensors. The way it works is very simple. When we smile, display anger or assemble any other kind of facial expression, we use our muscles to do it. By using sensors, these minute muscle movements can be accurately measured to detect expressions and emotions we aren’t even aware we are feeling.

Facial coding can help us by reading and interpreting subtle reactions that offer insights on our consumers’ opinions. 

All in all, these neuromarketing techniques open up a whole world of possibilities for marketing studies. However, the question is: What do these techniques mean for we do market our businesses?


How To Use Neuromarketing to Build Brand Value

Neuromarketing is specifically designed to target customer attraction, appeal, satisfaction, and retention. It uses emotions to trigger a positive response from customers. When done right, your brand instantly becomes memorable, and you are likely to win their loyalty. So how do you take advantage of this?

To answer that, here are some key marketing inputs influenced by neuromarketing:

1. Brand Positioning

Positioning a brand for success is more than just putting a product on display and parading it around. As a marketer, you have to build a brand identity through emotional marketing and emotional branding. This means looking deeper than the surface when designing and positioning your brand. 

With the use of neuromarketing, you can focus on figuring out how the brain responds to certain stimuli. You can use that to develop a strategy intended to improve your customer experience or boost brand recognition. It helps you to effectively create products, services, logos and campaigns that appeal to the right customer.

2. Advertising

It’s no secret that the presentation of an advertisement has a tremendous impact on the consumer’s decision-making. According to a study, attractive advertisements activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum, which are responsible for emotions in the decision-making process and the cognition of rewards.

Therefore, by making use of neuromarketing techniques it is possible to find out if an advertisement is perceived to be attractive or not, and therewith figure out its effectiveness. It may also be useful to test various attractive versions of an ad to find which one gets the best response.

3. Consumer Buying Behavior

The brain is responsible for all our consumer behaviors. As a marketer, you need to first understand how the brain works in order for you to predict or influence the buying behavior. 

Since emotions are strong mediators of how consumers process messages, understanding and modeling cognitive responses to selling messages has always been a methodological challenge. With the use of neuromarketing, you can learn about the mental processes behind why consumers make certain purchasing decisions. From there, you can effectively change the way you position your products/ services.

4. Pricing

How to price products in a way that tempts consumers is a long-running and contentious question. In marketing, one of the most important appearances is the fixation of prices. In fact, pricing is a key indicator with regards to the presentation of a product and its appearance to consumers. Meaning, the decision-making process of consumers changes depending on whether they first see the price or the product.

On that basis, the application of neuromarketing techniques can be helpful in order to determine consumers‘ willingness to pay (and price elasticity), allowing you to adjust the pricing accordingly. 

For example, one fascinating new piece of information being used by neuromarketers is that rounded figures are more likely to work alongside emotional decision making, while more complex figures work better when the logical brain is engaged. 

5. Product Design and Packaging

While advertisements are obviously vital to influencing consumer behavior, the design of the products themselves can also be instrumental. Aesthetic value and eye-catching packaging can transform brand value to an entirely new level. Hence, you can easily use neuromarketing research techniques in the process of product design and packaging. 

Through the use of this technique, you can reinvigorate the design of products as well as packaging. For example, making use of fMRI, EEG or any other neuromarketing techniques, can help you figure out which brain areas are activated when certain brands are being presented.

6. Website Layouts

Yes, you read it right! Neuromarketing techniques are also being employed to inform website design.

From color schemes, layouts, font size and beyond, neuromarketers are delving into our website preferences. There are now some firm rules of thumb when it comes to creating websites. For example, using certifications, testimonials and social widgets are sure to draw customers in more than those that don’t.

In web design, the goal of neuromarketing is to increase conversion rates and the percentage of visitors who take action by using specific cognitive biases in the design and content of the website. This means that you can use this to your advantage to make a huge difference!


What Does This Mean For You?

Now that we’ve talked about neuromarketing research and areas of application, let’s talk a bit about how to apply neuroscience methods to your marketing strategy.

Since you already know how neuromarketing works, you cannot deny that looking at certain brain patterns would be more useful than traditional surveys, for instance. People do not always realize what they do and don’t like… and certainly don’t always know why.

Plus, they are not always going to tell you the truth about their preferences. Removing the inevitable subjective bias that exists in traditional surveys helps to see the true picture and enables you to build a strategy according to the results.

Moreover, neuromarketing can be used to effectively design your web sites, product styles, packaging, display merchandise and even the elements of your advertising materials. It can help to identify the best place for a call to action. 

Armed with this information, potential problems can be identified quickly and products can be restyled and tested again with relative ease. Neuromarketing also works well with the science of consumer behavior and psychology by helping identify the right time and place for promotional activities.


Overview

The ability to evoke an emotional response, through an advertisement, a website or other elements of interest is one of the most important challenges of marketing research.

Thanks to neuromarketing research, marketers no longer have to rely as heavily on consumer self-reporting. It has become a reliable and effective alternative that fills in the gaps left by traditional marketing methods. 

Neuromarketing can give us a better understanding of how our brains work when we make buying decisions or when/why/how we react to different types of marketing content. 

In the same way, neuromarketing helps us collect data to make more informed decisions concerning packaging, website usability, brand positioning, price, shopping experience, and evaluate impact generated by the online marketing campaign. So, not only will neuromarketing help you to build brand positioning and loyalty, but it will also help in reducing failures related to marketing. 

Interested in learning more about how these or other neuromarketing techniques can elevate your business in 2020? Feel free to contact us or leave a comment below!

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