You are shopping
do you want the
coffee in the blue can or the red package, the red sportscar or the
classy steelgray Mercedes, the Irish Mist or the Jamieson, Coke or
Pepsi? We make decisions continually throughout the day, mostly ourside
our conscious awareness or at least without much logical reasoning.
Interest in influencing consumers outside of their awareness probably
can be traced to 1957 when Vance Packard published The Hidden
Persuaders. The book claimed that marketer James Vicary (who coined the
term "subliminal adverttising") inserted ads to "eat
popcorn...drink Coca Cola," between frames in a popular movie. Although
Vicary's research was never substantiated, it initiated both interest
brain influence as well as fears and cautions in consumers.
Nonetheless, marketers spend a great deal on attempting to understand
how people make decisions and how branding, advertising, packaging,
etc., can influence those decisions to purchase (or vote for that
matter). Over $1 billion dollars was spent last year on focus groups,
the results of which were used to direct about $120 billion in
For decades marketers have sought to
uncover customer responses to promotions through surveys, observation,
and focus groups. While these reflect obvious, subjective and conscious
indicators of preference, they have fallen short of accurately
and reliably reflecting what is going on inside consumers and their
actual buying behavior. Although we like to think of our decisions as
rational choices, there is much evidence that we are also influenced
and make decisions unconsciously. Coined by Ale Smidts in 2002,
"neuromarketing" utilizes recent developments in technology and
physiological monitoring when people are exposed to products. For
example, participants in such studies are hooked up to fMRI devices
show mental activity as they are exposed to various products. Sometimes
in contrast to their verbal preferences, the brain scan shows areas
that light up that are more directly related to actual purchasing
behavior. Although this is an emerging field, recent research shows
very interesting and promising developments, and it has led market
researcher Martin Lindstrom (author of Buy-ology) to suggest that the
2008 presidential election would be the last to use surveys as the
predominant means of assessing presidential preferences. As with any
new development there will be over-enthusiasm, mis-application, and
faddism, so read with a critical view.
Parallel to developments in marketing are developments in science and
particularly in brain science. The ability to monitor the activity of
the brain in reaction to various external stimuli (e.g., products,
pitches) is being frequently refined and studied. Recent studies are
suggesting that when consumers are presented with various products or
promotions, their brains present specific patterns that reflect
preferences. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines like those
found in hospitals are being reduced in size and portability, although
it can still cost about $15,000 to test 20 participants. Popular books,
new businesses, associations, conference and journals are touting this
new science as applied to marketing, but there are equal concerns
raised about applications beyond what is supported by evidence, as well
as ethical issues regarding applications and manipulations.
In this unit we will examine neuromarketing (NM), its methods, claims,
possibilities, and ethical issues. To guide your study, consider the
following questions:Questions to consider
- What is neuromarketing and how is it conducted?
- What is the evidence for neuromarketing claims and how sound is it?
- What are indications of the fad aspect of this approach?
- If this technique is indeed sound, what are the implications for market research and the domains in which it can be applied?
- How could you potentially use it in your field (from sales to teaching to healthcare)
There are a lot of resources below. Please check those with a red asterisk *