The Hunt For The Consumer’s Buy Button, Is Neuromarketing The Next Big Promise

Focus groups and marketing surveys to gauge what makes a brand successful, or which TV ad will produce the desired result are no longer the only method used in marketing. Today marketing agencies and companies are scanning the consumers’ brain to measure activity in real time and measuring brain waves to determine what part of the brain is activated in an effort to locate that elusive buy button. These methods are more effective than traditional focus groups and surveys, the findings are completely objective and virtually free from error and misinformation, the results are highly specific for targeted branding, packaging, and advertising.

The field of neuroscience is becoming increasingly important to multiple facets of our lives. The more we as a society realize the power of our brain, the more research will be conducted on behavior, buying habits, and even who you’re likely to vote for.

The ‘concept’ of neuromarketing was developed by psychologist Jerry Zaltman at Harvard University in 1990 and patented in 1995 under the name of Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). There are multiple sources that give credit to two different men with regard to which one-first used the term neuromarketing. Brighthouse Institute for Thought Sciences, an Atlanta marketing firm, claims to be the first to use the term neuromarketing in an article published in 2002 (Hammou, Galib, & Melloul 2013). The other gentleman, professor Ale Smidts, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002, who has been dubbed by some as “the father of neuromarketing,” claims to be the first to coin the term of neuromarketing in the same year (Veronica, 2009).

Neuromarketing is the next generation of marketing research and currently believed to be the most accurate method of gaining consumer intelligence. The aim of Neuromarketing is to understand consumer behavior and to be able to predict, as much as possible, their future purchasing decisions. During fMRI testing, marketers are able to recognize whether the participant is scared, sleepy, happy, or interested, by examining how the product or the commercials affect the subject’s brain in real time.

Neuromarketing is widely defined as the science that uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and other brainwave tools to view the human brain’s responses to marketing stimuli to figure out what consumers’ thoughts are toward a product, service, advertisement, or even packaging to perfectly construct marketing campaigns that are based on the human brain. (Hammou et al., 2006)

 Both tests have their pros and cons. Because EEG’s do not go as deep into the brain as fMRI’s, sometimes the fMRI wins out. On the other hand, fMRI’s come with a ‘usage’ price tag of $1,000 per machine, per hour, and a minimum of 20 participants. To buy a machine and maintain it will cost over $1,000,000. 

Marketers hope that neuroimaging will provide a more efficient trade-off between costs and benefits. This hope is based on the assumptions that people cannot fully articulate their preferences when asked to express them explicitly, and that consumers’ brains contain hidden information about their true preferences. In theory, the ‘hidden information’ can be used to influence consumer’s buying behavior, so that the cost of performing neuroimaging studies would be outweighed by the benefit of improved product design and increased sales.

Read the entire paper here The Hunt For The Consumer’s Buy Button Is Neuromarketing The Next Big Promise?