Neuromarketing is taking advertising to the next level, using medical technology to study the brain’s responses to marketing stimuli. Researchers measure the changes in the activity in the brain to understand the reasons why consumers take certain decisions and what part of the brain stimulates such decision-making. With the widespread adoption and use of biometric devices across consumer electronics, the neuromarketing has the potential to shape the future of marketing and advertising.
Getting in the Consumer's Head with Technology
Neuromarketing is carried out with the help of technologies such as eye-tracking, electroencephalograms (EEG) or functional MRIs, and facial coding. Eye-tracking involves following the eye movement of people while they are shopping or watching TV, using very small and light eye-tracking devices that participants in the study can wear. Functional MRIs or electroencephalograms (EEG) are devices that specialize in reading the brain’s electromagnetic activity, which helps brands gather hints about what is going on inside the consumers’ brains, which they can then use to understand consumer preferences, specifically to understand whether a brand interests or bores them. Facial coding is a science used to “read faces” with precision. Very small muscle movements on a face can be accurately measured with the help of sensors, helping marketers monitor and interpret the expressions of consumers. These subtle expressions can then be used to predict the possible behavioral patterns of consumers.
The National Cancer Institute used neuromarketing in their advertisements to encourage smokers to quit smoking by calling their helpline. The marketing campaign tracked consumer reactions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which led to an overall increase in call volumes to the helpline, ranging from a 2.8% all the way to a 32% increase. Cheetos utilized EEG to study the response of the audience to an advertising campaign. The focus group reportedly disliked the ad in their survey answers, but the EEG data disagreed and showed that the audience actually enjoyed the ads they were shown. Cheetos went ahead with the campaign and it was a success.
The Future of Neuromarketing
There are over 150 global neuromarketing companies, ranging from some who only provide the technology to agencies who offer a full suite of services. With a customer-base of over 1,400 brands, Boston-based Affectiva — which grew out of MIT’s Media Lab — is the world’s largest provider of neuromarketing technology, followed by Emotiv, based out of San Francisco, and Synetiq, based out of Budapest, Hungary. Europe has the most neuromarketing service providers followed by North America and Asia. The future of neuromarketing appears quite promising, particularly as the cost of equipment used for neuromarketing studies was, which was very high until a few years ago, has declined significantly. Furthermore, new technological advancements are enabling testing in real-life situations, which improves the data available to neuromarketing companies. Awareness of the benefits of neuromarketing is growing among brands which should see the neuromarketing sector grow quickly.
According to research by Google, about 50% of ads do not get any recognition from consumers, which can lead to significant losses as marketing and advertising are sources of substantial expenditure. While it might be a relatively new concept, the insights derived from neuromarketing studies are widely applicable. Advances in data analytics and technology have opened up a brand-new world for brands and neuromarketing is just one of these tools on offer. In an era of cut-throat competition, companies need to take advantage of the latest technologies in order to carve out a niche for themselves.