Neuromarketing primarily means combining two branches of science: marketing and neurobiology. This term first appeared in 2002 thanks to the Dutch scientist Eil Smidts, who defines it as a commercial application of neuroscience and neuroimaging technology.
Some scientists understand neuromarketing as a combination of two branches of science. In particular, it means the use of neuroimaging in marketing research, the combination of neuroscience and marketing in research, a new interdisciplinary field that connects neuroscience, psychology and marketing, which focuses on assessing the intellectual and emotional responses of consumers to various marketing incentives, a new multidisciplinary field of research where the fundamentals of supply and sale based on the results of brain research, behavioral psychology and marketing should or can be explored in order to target and successfully sell relevant products.
The beginning of the study by scientists
Others emphasize that neuromarketing allows for the analysis of unconscious reactions of people, and provide the following definitions: a developing field that connects the science of consumer behavior and neuroscience and offers innovative methods of direct research of consciousness without the need for cognitive or conscious participation consumers to use direct methods of neuroimaging; a science that applies the principles, methodologies and research discoveries of neurobiology to further understand and study the neurological and physiological correlations that underlie human behavior, neuro-marketing, as a science, explains the mechanisms of action of unconscious processes occurring in neural structures, a new direction of marketing research, the subject of which is the study of unconscious sensorimotor, cognitive and emotional reactions of a person to certain stimuli.
As you can see from the above definitions, neuromar-marketing is understood both as an applied discipline used in commercial projects and as a science involved in academic research.
Smidts explained that the task of neuromarketing is to better understand the consumer and his response to marketing stimuli by directly measuring processes in the brain, as well as to increase the effectiveness of marketing methods by studying the brain response. In addition, the purpose of this area is to find ways to objectively determine the client’s preferences without using subjective methods of obtaining information about them, as well as the formation of advertising messages in such a way as to persuade the consumer to buy before he realized them and developed his position.
The term “neuromarketing” first appeared in 2002, although the history of the first attempts to assess human behavior and the impact of advertising on him as a derivative of brain functions goes back more than two hundred years. The earliest mentions of the search for some universal psychological, anatomical and physiological correlates include, for example, phrenology, a science that claims that there is a relationship between the structure of the skull and the mental properties of a person; the author of the theory is Franz Josef Gaal, born in 1758. By the time the term appeared, several organizations in the United States (for example, Vnundoive and Baksbat) were already offering neuro-marketing research and consultations promoting the use of technology and knowledge in neuroimaging.
Professor of neuroscience Reed Montague conducted the first academic study in this area in 2003; its results were published in the journal Neuron in 2004. In the experiment, participants were offered drinks from Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands while a tomograph scanned their brains. At the first stage, they received soda in a blind test. The participants had to answer which of the drinks they like more. When they drank Pepsi, the pleasure reward zone was activated, and more than half of the subjects chose the drink of this particular brand. At the second stage of testing, the respondents were told which drink they were drinking. The difference in results was significant. When the participants drank Coca-Cola, zones associated with associations, additional memories, and self-identification in society were activated. This was not the case with Pepsi. At this stage, most people were unambiguously choosing Coca- Cola.
The experiment showed that neuroscience can help explain decision-making, and demonstrated the potential of neuromarketing. According to the given definitions, neuromarketing is associated with neuroscience and uses its principles and methodologies in its research. Therefore, its main tools are neuroscience tools.
They can be divided into 3 groups. Psychophysical instruments record the physiological responses of various parts of the body, except the brain, and show increases or decreases in neurological functions. These include the measurement of galvanic skin response, electromyography, oculography, heart rate and pressure analysis. Instruments that record the electrical activity of the brain detect and control changes in neurological function that occur within milliseconds (electroencephalography, magnetic encephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation). Instruments that determine the metabolic activity of the brain provide a high degree of spatial measurements; allow detecting activity in certain brain structures, as a rule, with an accuracy of the millimeter (functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography). In addition, it is possible to use instruments of different groups simultaneously to obtain data that are more accurate.
The most common method is oculography, which allows establishing what design elements the consumer saw; which parts of the product or advertisement caught the attention and which were ignored, were in the blind spot, and what made the buyer make a particular choice.
For example, one study of diaper advertising found that the target audience focuses more on the face of the child. On the one hand, the image of the baby attracted attention, but at the same time distracted from the advertising text (picture). The second option, in which the child was turned to face the text block, helped to distribute the participants’ attention between the photograph and the text.
A feature of instruments that measure the electrical and metabolic activity of the brain is that it is necessary to involve qualified specialists to conduct research and interpret the results.
In neuromarketing research, electroencephalography (EEG) is most often used to study the perception of advertising materials and draw conclusions about their potential effectiveness. Here, the analysis of the bioelectric activity of the brain is important to assess the emotional impact, cognitive load, and the likelihood of memorizing this material.
Cognitive tension is the mental effort that a person makes to understand the meaning of a text or video. If his indicators are low, it can be assumed that the person does not listen, does not read, is distracted and thinks about something of his own, if too high, perhaps understanding causes difficulties. The optimal condition is the average values of the indicator. Analysis of the functional activity of the frontal lobes of the brain according to EEG data allows one to give an objective assessment of the cognitive tension that is necessary to understand the presented material.
EEG analysis can also assess the memorability of a commercial, a stand or a single logo. Various cortical and subcortical structures of the brain are involved in this process. Tracking the functional activity of various areas of the cortex and their interaction when viewing advertising material, it is possible with a high probability to predict remembering or quickly forgetting what he saw.
Magnetic encephalography (MEG) is also a popular technique. Professor Amblair and colleagues at the London Business School carried one of the earliest studies using it out.
Attention refers to conscious awareness of stimuli in the environment, while activation refers to an immediate emotional response. Eye-tracking systems are most often used to measure attention. EEG technology is also used to better understand the dynamics of attention. Psychophysical instruments are used to measure emotional activation Features of stimuli that induce attention and emotional activation
Studied through neuroimaging technologies. Two types of memory are considered: recollection (regardless of marketing incentives) and recognition (during contact with a product or advertisement) Factors affecting the memory of marketing incentives brand expansion Involves using existing brands to introduce new product categories.
Successful brand expansion increases the competitiveness of new products
There has been little research done in this area, yet the development of this area could answer many of the questions marketers have. Neurological indicators of successful or unsuccessful brand expansion would choose. The results showed that familiar brands stimulate the right parietal cortex. Thus, the authors concluded that this area was “brand position”.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is more commonly used in research to assess the metabolic activity of the brain because it allows visualization of deep brain structures, especially those involved in emotional responses. Tomographs are quite expensive, but more affordable than MEG equipment. In addition, fMRI, unlike PET, is a non-invasive research method.
Brain imaging has been used to evaluate videos and television advertisements, study consumer decision-making, and even investigate the likely impact of political advertising during a presidential election.
Based on the data presented, it can be concluded that the most popular and sufficiently informative technologies are eye tracking, EEG, MEG and fMRI. At the same time, each of them has its own disadvantages and limitations, which in some cases complicates their use.
Despite the large number of potential research directions, only a few areas are touched upon in published works. Nevertheless, attempts by scientists to streamline this data have led to different results. So, in one of the classifications, existing research on neuromarketing is divided into 5 areas: testing the effectiveness of advertising, product attractiveness, influence of opinion leaders, choice of logo / brand and choice of media. Meanwhile, Hubert and Kenning distinguish 5 groups: product, pricing, communication and distribution policies, as well as brand research.
The most complete and updated classification is the version of Dougherty and Hoffman, which includes 6 different categories for developing existing research in terms of desired marketing results: attention / emotional activation of consumers, product / brand assessment, product / brand preference, consumer behavior, memory, brand extension.
A major challenge in neuromarketing research is the ethical challenge of neuroimaging to increase commercial value. Scientifically, neuromarketing cannot allow scientists to design a marketing campaign that would limit the individual’s freedom. Nevertheless, concerns in this area are expressed.
United States market
In the US, the consumer advocacy group — Consumer Alert — has filed complaints with universities, the federal government, and a Senate committee to protest the “ethics” of neuromarketing. They call it “finding the buy button inside the skull.” Another non-profit consumer advocacy project, Commercial Alert, claims that American children suffer from unusual levels of obesity, diabetes, anorexia, bulimia, and pathological gambling, while millions of people will eventually die of tobacco marketing. In their opinion, the development of neuromarketing will lead to the infringement of free will.
Research in this area could help mitigate the concerns raised by Commercial Alert, for example by examining the differences between the brain activities of impulsive shoppers versus those who shop more thoughtfully. In addition, correlations between purchasing behavior and clinical disorders can provide useful information on how to treat the latter.
To solve this problem, it is advisable to adopt a code of ethics that would include protection of research subjects from coercion, full disclosure of ethical principles used in the experiment, and accurate presentation of scientific methods for enterprises and the media. It should also be noted that the use of many neuromarketing tools requires large material investments, sometimes impossible, since there are no organizations that could provide the necessary amount for the research. In addition, another problem arises — the need to interpret the results obtained. Most often, marketers do not have knowledge in the field of neuroscience, which requires either additional education or joint work with specialists in this field.
Despite all the difficulties, neo-romarketing will continue to develop. Many brands and scientists have already seen the enormous potential of neuroimaging.
For marketers, neuromarking is attractive because it allows them to study consumer requests much more efficiently and faster and to get hidden information about their customers’ preferences. Despite ethical objections, it is hoped that such data will enable brands to create products that are best suited to customer needs. Moreover, for scientists, neuromarketing can be an interesting area to study the neural activity that underlies human daily activities.