The Potential of Neuromarketing as a Marketing Tool
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The Potential of Neuromarketing as a Marketing ToolSydney TrahinAsheville-Buncombe Technical Community CollegeHeather Vaughn, English InstructorNovember 15, 2017AbstractIn recent years, a new field has been emerging that links the worlds of neuroscience, consumer behavior, and marketing: neuromarketing. Neuromarketing is a developing study that focuses on assessing consumers’ cognitive and emotional responses to various marketing stimuli. Each year, billions of dollars are spent on advertising campaigns. However, traditional methods for exanimating the success of advertisements commonly fail because the research depends on consumers’ willingness and ability to describe their emotions when shown an advertisement. Through neuromarketing, marketers have the potential to discover implicit and automatic processes which determine the decision-making process, and that will reveal unidentified information about consumer behavior which is not obtainable through traditional marketing methods (Hubert & Kenning 2008). The advancements in neuroscience technologies can enable marketing researchers to better understand the function of emotions in decision making and developing more effective methods of generating these emotions in order to create more targeted advertisements. Overall, this information will help researchers to be more persuasive marketers. Neuromarketing offers a progressive method for directly seeing into customers minds without requiring cognitive or conscious participation.Keywords: Neuromarketing, Advertising, Marketing, CustomerThe Potential of Neuromarketing as a Marketing ToolHow much do people know about why customers buy? What truly influences people’s decisions in today’s advertising cluttered world? An eye-grabbing billboard? A catchy slogan? Or do individuals buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within the subconscious mind that buyers are barely aware of them? There is evidence suggesting that the brain is the main mediator of human behavior, expressed emotions, and decision-making processes (Murphy, Illes, & Reiner, 2008). Moreover, certain evidence shows that in the majority of the cases, people are unable to express their reasons for behavior and preferences, consciously or unconsciously (Vecchiato, Astolfi, De Vico Fallani, Toppi, Aloise, Bez, & Babiloni, 2011). As a result of combining neuroscience with marketing, a relatively new study of neuromarketing has manifested. By taking advantage of advances in technology, this emerging field goes beyond traditional tools of marketing research by focusing on consumer brains responses to marketing stimuli. By doing so, it is expected that an objective perspective of brain activity can be assessed (Hubert, & Kenning, 2008). This research helps to better understand the effects of marketing stimuli on consumers, presenting marketers with the opportunity to obtain unbiased data through the use of the available technology and advances in neuroscience. Neuromarketing gives businesses a better opportunity to understand how customers unconscious mind influences their decision to purchase, providing a better understanding of the consumers’ thoughts, emotions, feelings, needs and motivation to buy.
Why Use Brain Imaging for Marketing?For decades, research methods have tried to explain and predict the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, but, for the most part, these traditional techniques have miserably failed. Conventional research methods such as questionaries’ and focus groups, which is a $20 billion industry in the United States alone, typically struggle to find out what consumers truly think because people do not always say or even recognize how they really feel (IBIS World 2017). Individuals’ irrational minds are controlled by cultural biases and traditions from their upbringing as well as many other subconscious factors that have a powerful but hidden influence over their choices. As Zaltman (2003) notes, “Traditional market research over-relies on consciousness — in other words, on rationality, economic logic, and verbalization. However, in consumers’ purchasing choices, 95 percent of the decision-making process takes place below the conscious level” (p. 3). This demonstrates that individual’s subconscious emotions outplay their rational thinking. As a result, companies using traditional research methods such as focus groups and surveys are unable to collect accurate information of what attracts and engages customers. Individuals also tend to transmit incorrect information when the topic is sensitive or when they feel the need for social acceptance, which causes the responses obtained to not be genuine; they are filtered by the interviewee’s consciousness before being reported (Hubert & Kenning, 2008). As Lee, Broderick, & Chamberlain (2007) describes “Neuroimaging does not rely on verbal or written information from the respondent, as traditional measures commonly used in marketing research rely on the ability and willingness of the respondent to accurately report their attitudes or prior behaviors” (p. 201). Neuromarketing represents an opportunity for marketers to overcome these obstacles to better understand the consumers’ thoughts, emotions, feelings, needs and motivation to buy.The use of Neuromarketing gives sellers the opportunity to accurately comprehend what consumers are thinking without a social filter, and potentially lower the amount of incorrect market research data and provide more efficiently marketed products. The main incentive is to provide marketers with more accurate techniques and data for making more accurate predictions and reducing the tremendous amount of wasted marketing budgets. For instance, Crawford & Di Benedetto (2008, p. 191) explain that “the biggest cause of new product failure is that the intended buyer did not see a need for the item – no purpose, no value, not worth the price” (p. 398). This demonstrates the complexity of product development and the important role that customer research plays. Neuromarketing techniques now give sellers the opportunity to look inside the consumers’ brains and receive valuable information about the subconscious processes clarifying why a certain message succeeds or fails. Thus, the need to pursue innovative marketing research methods to improve the capability of articulating and visualizing current and future customer needs and preferences is seen (Crawford & Di Benedetto, 2008).Perspectives of NeuromarketingThe implementation of neuromarketing techniques presents a promising future for marketing research; nevertheless, this new practice has stimulated some controversy related to ethical issues. Majeríková (2017) states that “Distinct persuasion tactics (without the consumer knowing), buy button in the brain, human behaving as robots or just simply manipulation of consumers has been raised as possible ethical concerns in many research pieces” (p. 32) Opponents of the field argue that the practice affects consumers capability to choose whether or not to consume marketed products, leaving the individuals unable to resist such efforts and making them easy targets for company campaigns. Wilson et al. (2008) argue that “Not only does neuroimaging allow researchers to ‘‘read the minds’’ of test subjects more accurately, it also permits them to delineate which stimuli trigger excitement, trust, pleasure, i.e., the emotions that lead people to buy” (p. 399). Due to this and other similar issues, the Neuromarketing, Science and Business Associate creation of a code of ethics which was adopted by neuromarketing industry. The overall objective of the code of ethics is to ensure all neuromarketing practices are used in a beneficial and harmless manner in all stages of development, implementation, and dissemination.