Business owners, marketers, branding and advertising specialists all want to know what lies in their target audience’s minds. Why? The more you know about your audiences, the easier it is for you to sell, market or engage with them.
Enter the discipline known as “neuromarketing.”
If you’re interested in creating a brand that helps you build your business AND one that makes a difference for people, then you should know more about this discipline because more businesses are using brain research to gain insights into how to shape their branding and marketing efforts.
WHAT IS NEUROMARKETING?
Neuromarketing is a very new discipline that is increasingly capturing the attention of marketers and is getting more and more legitimate. In 2006, it almost seemed like science fiction. If you’re interested in learning more about neuromarketing, check out “Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince
Consumers with Neuromarketing”. It’s a book that every marketer, salesperson or business owner should read. Even Guy Kawasaki (author of Enchantment and former chief evangelist of Apple) highly recommends it.
So what exactly is neuromarketing? It leads with the premise that our subconscious (the emotional part of our brains) makes buying decisions in a matter of split seconds. By studying our brain’s reactions to different brand stimuli, marketers can design better products, create better brands, or even simply communicate more effectively in order to attract and serve people and consequently get them to buy more. Neuromarketing uses technology to measure consumers’ brain activity when interacting in different ways with a brand, in order to basically inform the brand’s 4Ps:
While consumers might lie or might not be able to articulate all of their feelings regarding a particular brand when faced with traditional market research, such as focus groups, neuromarketing removes all of the human subjectivity and just gets right to it. Humans might lie or not know what they feel. The brain knows everything even though it doesn’t always share that information with the owner. So, by looking at the respondent attention level, emotional engagement, memory storage and other metrics, neuromarketers can find the truth about their customers. Not everyone agrees with this idea, though. Many have concerns regarding the reliability of neuromarketing and some are even questioning the ethicality of this recent discipline.
In recent years, several researches have been made to get more insight into the consumers’ minds. There are several techniques used, such as fMRI (Funcional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), SST (Steady State Topography), EEG (Electroencephalography), Eye Tracking and Galvanic Skin Response.
In 2006, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) presented the results of the first fMRI study examining the brain’s response to branding. Twenty males and females had their brain activities monitored while they were presented with images of familiar and unfamiliar brands.
The results showed that strong brands activated a network of cortical areas and areas involved in positive emotional processing and associated with self-identification and rewards. The activation patter was independent of the category of the product or the service being offered. Furthermore, strong brands were processed with less effort on the part of the brain. Weak brands showed higher levels of activation in areas of working memory and negative emotional response.
Another study, this time from the Gallup Management Journal, reports on another fMRI research, this time on customer engagement. The study found that the higher the level of engagement from a customer, the more activity occurred in three parts of the brain: the orbital frontal cortex (emotion), the temporal pole (memory) and the fusiform gyrus (facial recognition). The lesson to be learned from this study is that the more engaged a customer is, the more he is actively trying to pull out memories about his interactions with the specific brand.
As I mentioned earlier, neuromarketing is attracting a lot of critics and brings up several issues. Many critics of neuromarketing claim that this new science is exploiting people and trying to sell them things they don’t need. Others are also considering the possibility of political brainwashing with the help of neuromarketing.
Commercial Alert, the website “protecting communities from commercialism”, say that they “oppose the use of neuromarketing for corporate or political advertising” as they see three big potential problems with the discipline: increased incidence of marketing-related diseases, more effective political propaganda and more effective promotion of degraded values.
However, many companies have been trying to integrate neuromarketing within their marketing efforts: Microsoft tried mining EEG data, Frito-Lay studied female brains, Google partnered with MediaVest for a biometrics study and The Weather Channel used EEG, eye-tracking and skin response techniques.
Whatever your views on neuromarketing, if you decided you would like to dabble with this new science, you might not even be able to – the costs of conducting such research would probably bankrupt most companies, but there still is a lot of general information out there that could prove to be very useful for your brand.
WHY SHOULD ENTREPRENEURS AND SMALL BUSINESSES CARE ABOUT THIS?
I’m sharing this article with you to elevate your awareness and understanding around the “science” that goes into building brands. Most people think it’s about coming up with a “pretty logo”. It’s not that you don’t want a logo, but consider that branding delves on a completely different level that building “logos”.
FINALLY, WHILE NEUROMARKETING IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAND, DO YOU FIND IT MORAL FOR RESEARCHERS TO LOOK DIRECTLY IN CONSUMERS’ BRAINS?