The term "neuromarketing" can be pretty broad. Anyway, neuromarketing is the application of knowledge from brain science for marketing and market research activities. However, this definition is not coherent even among marketers.
Sometimes it's misunderstood and perceived as some suspicious activity manipulating the consumer brain to make a purchase decision. This perception is particularly popular in Europe, where marketers more concerned about ethics and privacy. That's why we often even use another term for research techniques using the Neuromarketing - measuring nonconscious reactions (nonconscious insights).
Neuromarketing is solving the same problems as traditional marketing. Neuromarketing insights are used for the same applications as conventional consumer research. It's crucial to split areas where consumers can understand and explain their behavior or attitude from even more often cases where consumers don't know what they really know, and can't understand or explain their behavior.
Thus, using a so-called mixed approach when nonconscious insights are analyzed together with insights from survey questions is recommended. For some studies, Neuromarketing is just an added value, while for many applications, Neuromarketing is crucial to get a holistic picture and make correct business decisions.
The lack of practical knowledge and not harmonized approaches are probably the most significant barriers for more often applications of insights based on Neuromarketing and biometric data. You know that gaze movements tell you about the level of visual attention, but you should apply this in a more practical way - e.g., how noticeable is your ad or product's package against competitors. Here is another example. Measuring brainwaves (EEG) is useless unless you can convert them into actionable findings of attention or interest corresponding timeline of your ad.
And even speed of reaction could tell you how strong is an implicit connection between your brand and consumer needs or category entry points (Implicit Priming Test: What Your Finger Movements Say About Your Real Attitude to Things?).
We believe that the systematization of these applications and automated methodologies and techniques help marketers a lot.
Let’s take a usability study as an example. Google Analytics provides you with digital footprints of consumer behavior, but can't explain WHY’s behind such actions. Having biometric data, such as eye-tracking data you could tell where the visual attention goes, what distracts user, causing the behavior different from expected. Using the camera for facial coding could also help identify key pain moments - when consumers are irritated, confused, or happy.
We cannot easily split or classify our purchase decisions only into rational and emotional. A purchase decision is the complex process of compromise between values and costs, and both these values and costs have two ingredients - explicit and implicit.
Emotions drive all our decisions (both explicit and implicit) - but we don't have access to those drivers consciously, as emotional markers operate below our conscious awareness.
Emotions also influence both attention and memory, and all these factors are essential for purchase decisions (Emotional Marketing: How Smiling Faces Boost Your Conversions).
Trying to understand purchase decision, we should also remember about nonconscious and conscious goal motivations, about Approach - Avoidance motivations, and about Priming (which links one idea to another both consciously and nonconsciously).
There are no simple to use research methods to analyze the nature of consumer impulse (purchase decision) yet.
fMRI is probably the most powerful technology to measure brain reactions. But it comes with a lot of drawbacks. Thus it's great for academic research but can't be used in routine marketing studies.
Another great technology is EEG. Measuring electrical waves, we could understand the level of emotional arousal and valence. The level of Approach - Avoidance motivations also could be measured with EEG, comparing differences between left and right frontal regions.
As a rule, these technologies are used together with eye-tracking to connect consumer reactions with visual attention (“Too much info… I’m overloaded” - What is attention economy?).
Besides hardware-based approaches, where you need to set up a lab, there are more inexpensive and scalable solutions. These are webcam eye tracking, webcam facial coding for emotions recognition, and implicit tests to measure implicit connections and the priming effect.
Development of practical applications probably will be the key driver for adoption of neuromarketing techniques, and this will be an essential factor for the industry rise. Hardware already demonstrates fantastic progress, and AI helps us a lot with results interpretation.
At the same time, we would like to note that privacy and regulations are the crucial points for the further success of the industry. A more profound understanding of how the brain works is a huge responsibility for both neuromarketing companies, consultants, and marketers. Anyway, I believe in a bright future for Neuromarketing.
Written by Dmitry Gaiduk, CEO at CoolTool
Cover: Viktoria Karnauhova