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Neuroscience in Marketing

Neuroscience in Marketing

By Abhishek Biswas, Julian Arnold & Parvathy Govind
March 22, 2016

In recent times, Marketing has become an integral part of any business. Your business may offer the best products or services in the industry, but without continuous projection of the product to the customers, the chances of your competitors taking over your products is very high.

Marketing has evolved over the ages to a stage where every aspect of its technology is examined scientifically and improved techniques are applied to win over the customers and retain them.

But what does the future hold for marketing?

Marketing, then and now

In the early 1950s and 1960s, marketing was production oriented and the quality of the production was the driving factor of marketing. Also, production was demand oriented and creation of demand was not the primary focus of the manufacturer.

Later, as new production technologies started to develop, techniques evolved simultaneously to meet the needs of the customers and efforts were made to maximize customization. Nowadays, a holistic marketing approach is used that integrates several aspects of marketing.

But the next major advancement in marketing is literally hacking the brain of the customer.

The next big step

Neuroscience is the field of study where the response to products and consumer decision-making is understood at the level of body and mind. The Neuromarketing concept is based on a model wherein the major thinking part of human activity, including emotion, takes place in the subconscious area that is below the levels of controlled awareness. For this reason, the perception technologists of the market are very tempted to learn the techniques of effective manipulation of the subconscious brain activity.

Neuromarketing is a flexible method to determine customer preferences and brand loyalty, because it can apply to anyone who has developed an opinion about a product or company.

Studies have shown that we, as in our brains, can form an opinion about a website in less than 50 milliseconds. But it is not just brands and logos. Facial expressions can also promote trust or can evoke a feeling of unworthiness and our brain can hold on to this opinion for a long time, unconsciously. [4]

Marketing focuses on creating positive and memorable impact in the minds of customers. Sensory devices that create or evoke memories, for example, can be easily employed—the aroma of freshly baked food, recollections of past stories , evocative language, visual appeal, a song that gets stuck in your head and won’t come out — ultimately, these are all effective examples of Neuromarketing that can be used by nearly any business of any size.

Neuromarketing measures those impacts; the marketing team can take the basic discoveries and adjust their product or service to reflect subconscious consumer needs.

Researchers use technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure the changes in activities in parts of the brain, EEG to measure activities in specific regions of the brain, sensors to measure changes in one’s physiological state (heart rate, respiratory rate etc.) to learn why the customers make the decision they do and which areas of the brain are responsible for these emotions. Neuromarketing then targets the subconscious desires of the customers which are revealed through these measurements [2].

The Pepsi challenge used the technique of Neuromarketing wherein a group of people were asked to choose between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. At first, about half the participants said they preferred Pepsi, but after revealing which of the samples were Coca-Cola, the preferences shifted to three-to-one in favour of Coca-Cola. During this period, the MRI showed a heightened activity in the part of the brain which controls thinking as well as in the part that relates to memory. This led to the conclusion that thoughts and emotions connected to the branding were over riding reactions to the actual quality of the product [5].

Fact and fiction

But the concept of neuroscience is still in murky waters.

The hype and false understanding about the concept of Neuroscience in Marketing has resulted in many techniques being falsely classified as Neuroscience. Consequentially, many companies end up spending millions on branding and advertising techniques in hope of maximizing their returns.

But it’s just the case that executives are being resold an established technique. For example, many “neuromarketing” companies use eye-tracking technology which can help the marketing executives identify which part of the ad attracts more attention, but this is not “neuro”.

Much of the existing neuromarketing EEG uses inferior kits, in an environment filled with external noise leading to junk data and false positives [1].

Where from here

The very idea that a company can tap into a customer’s brain to understand what they like is very exciting indeed, but it certainly isn’t all powerful on its own.

What can be done however, is supplementing traditional research techniques that are already on offer with brain imaging techniques. This can help in measuring the audiences’ clarity on issues that they are consciously aware of, or which they would find hard to articulate.  It can help identify emotional responses and, crucially, what is being stored into memory on a second by second basis as people engage with content. By combining the best of both researching techniques, bias can be avoided and difficult-to-express sentiments and feelings can be easily tracked down [3].

Neuroscience in Marketing still has a long way to go, but we are not far away from an era in which companies can measure second-by-second changes in brain activity and deal with customers and employees in real-time !




About the authors:

Abhishek Biswas v1 Abhishek Biswas

Abhishek Biswas is a graduate in Economics and MBA(Finance) and have 10 years experience spanning across financial and market research work.He is currently working as a Senior Consultant at Fractal Analytics.

Julian Arnold v1 Julian Arnold

Julian Arnold is a graduate from NIT Trichy and is currently working for a major CPG client at Fractal Analytics.

Parvathy Govind v1 Parvathy Govind

Parvathy Govind is a graduate from College Of Engineering,Trivandrum and is currently working as an Analyst at Fractal Analytics


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