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Applications of Neuromarketing Methodologies

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 2959 words Published: 17th Nov 2020

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Neuromarketing has revolutionized the ways to understand consumer minds and behaviors. In the class, we learned many cases about how neuromarketing methodologies could be applied to tackle real business/marketing problems. Choose one of the options to write your term paper.

Option One: Write an essay about neuromarketing applications. What are the insights by using neuromarketing methodologies (i.e., what is new)? Why traditional marketing research methods are inferior to uncover these insights? Are neuromarketing methodologies completing, competing or replacing traditional marketing research methods? To help you crack the topic, think about why testing consumers' attention to ads that are displayed on a different device (e.g., desktop, laptop, mobile, and tablet) using eye-tracking?


Neuromarketing emerged in the 2000s, resulting in research, conducted by Dr. Read Montague, a neurologist at Baylor University in Texas, on the reactions of the human brain to brand influence. It is a new discipline that combines consumer neuroscience, psychology, and economics (Ramsoy, 2014). Also, neuromarketing can be defined as "a field that focuses on the marketing implications from understanding the interaction of cognition and emotions in human behavior based on neuroscientific methods" (Javor, Koller, et al, 2013). While neuroeconomics tries to explain economic decision-making processes using neuroscience methods, neuromarketing tries to develop new marketing strategies and tools based on these models as well as to optimize marketing processes.

What are the insights by using neuromarketing methodologies (i.e., what is new)?

By exploiting new research methods that allow the analysis of people's brain activity and the interpretation of the data, it revolutionizes the field of market research by applying scientific rules to a dominantly empiric sphere in which most decisions are taken in the random or undetermined environment. Neuromarketing inspires and drives new marketing practices and innovation and provides research tools to better understand consumers' underlying motivations that are behind their behaviors. There are four important new aspects and insights in neuromarketing, as discussed above.

Uncover Implicit Processes - non-verbal processes (Plassmann et al., 2008)

With the help of neuroimaging techniques, researchers can study brain activity "in vivo", as a reaction to certain stimuli and can establish correlations between the respective stimuli and the triggered reactions.

To illustrate the importance of neuromarketing methodologies and to understand what its added value is, we can use the study named "Cola Brains". This study has been published in 2004 (McClure, et al., 2004; Pispers and Dabrowski, 2011), and focuses on the research of reading Montague from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In the experiment, the brains of a group of individuals have been scanned, with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging, while drinking Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola. The individuals declared to prefer Coca Cola to the detriment of Pepsi when knowing what they drank, activating the frontal lobe, the cerebral area which combines attention and controls short term memory, thus controlling thinking.

The experiment acknowledged that when people did not know the name of the brand that they drank, they preferred Pepsi, "activating a structure in the limbic system, which is responsible for the emotional and instinctual behavior", (Pispers and Dabrowski, 2011).

Validate theoretical concepts (Chen, et al., 2015)

Neuromarketing helps to understand the concept of brand personality (Aaker, 1997) which is the set of human traits/characteristics assigned to the brand. This concept highlights five dimensions of brand personality such as sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. Brand personalities are described by unique brain activation patterns. When we feel a certain emotion towards the brand, a distinct part of our brain is activated, which means the emotion created by the brand on the consumer (consumer's brain).

Thanks to fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), we assume that "strong brands activated a network of cortical areas and areas involved in positive emotional processing and associated with self-identification and rewards. Weak brands showed higher levels of activation in areas of working memory and negative emotional response." (Born, 2017).

Generate new marketing insights

Price is a key factor in most purchases. A study has been conducted under fMRI. The subjects were told that they would be trying different Cabernet Sauvignons and other cheap wine, identified by price, to study the effect of sampling time on flavor. The first wine was identified by its real bottle price of $5 and by a fake $45 price tag. The second wine was marked with its actual $90 price and by a fictitious $10 tag. The wines identified as more expensive tasted better even if in reality it is a bad quality and inexpensive wine (Plassmann, et al., 2008).

The researchers found that an increase in the perceived price of wine did lead to increased activity in the brain because of an associated increase in taste expectation. Because perceptions about the quality are positively correlated with price, the scholars argued that someone might expect an expensive wine to taste better than a cheaper one.

Early exposure to price ('price primacy') altered the process of valuation, as observed in altered patterns of activity in the medial prefrontal cortex immediately before making a purchase decision (Karmarkar, et al., 2015).

The researchers have shown that price primacy can increase the purchase of bargain-priced products when their worth is easily recognized. Together, these results suggest that price primacy revealed considerations of product worth and can have an impact on consumption.

Enhance the prediction of behaviors (Genevsky, Yoon, and Knutson, 2017)

Neuromarketing helps us to have a depth understanding of the consumer's brain. For many years, marketing research methods have aimed to explain, predict and forecast the effectiveness of some marketing strategies such as advertising campaigns. 

For instance, research conducted by Alexander Genevsky and a team of researchers found that scanning brain activity can make predictions of individual choices more accurate. And more specifically, the study also discovered that activity in one area of the brain can forecast the success of crowdfunded projects on the internet more reliable than the answers people give.

Why traditional marketing research methods are inferior to uncover these insights? 

'Consumers don't think how they feel. They don't say what they think, and they don't do what they say' (Ogilvy, 1980). One prior desire expressed in the marketing field is to know what consumers think and feel about a product. To seek mechanisms that induce customers' "hot button" (Feig, 2006) which are the product or service for which the client has a very strong interest and push him to purchase the product or service), marketing researchers have employed traditional marketing research methods such as qualitative (focus groups, in-depth interviews, etc.) and quantitative techniques (survey methods, observation methods, etc.).

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One constant desire expressed in the marketing field is to know what consumers think and feel about a product. Further, marketers may seek mechanisms that induce an irresistible desire to purchase specific goods. In the quest for this knowledge, marketing researchers have employed traditional qualitative and quantitative techniques, such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, projective techniques, and surveys. Traditional market research relies on self-report methodologies which are fraught with several biases that can skew the results.

However, these methods are not sufficient, and, in this way, conventional and traditional methods are not always successful. As emotions are effective mediators of how customers process messages, understanding and modeling cognitive responses to selling messages has always been a methodological issue (Morin, 2011). For example, researchers have mainly relied onclients' aptitude to report how they feel about a specific piece of advertising, either in a confidential setting such as a survey, a face-to-face interview, or in focus groups. Nevertheless, these approaches have noticeable limitations.

In the first place, it is assumed that individuals can describe their cognitive process which it is nowadays know that has many subconscious components. Similarly, a myriad of factors motivates research participants to distort the reporting of their feelings, such as incentives, time constraints, or peer pressure. Other elements can affect the good quality and the consistency of marketing research. Besides, emotions play a particularly important role. For example, for some research with a fairly sensitive topic, participants may have difficulty confiding in each other, etc., which would impact the results.

In this challenging situation, the advent of neuromarketing mechanisms has offered captivating methodological alternatives. Such alternatives finally enable marketers to probe the consumers' brains to gain valuable insights on the subconscious processes explaining the power (or a non-powerful) of a message that has on the consumer (Hubert and Kenning, 2008). Thus, thanks to these new research methods allowed by the neurosciences, it has been possible to remove the biggest issue facing conventional advertising research, which is to trust people have both the will and the capability to report exactly and their emotions (how they have been affected by a specific piece of advertising).

Yet, conventional methods for testing and predicting the effectiveness of those investments have generally failed because they depend on consumers' willingness and competency to describe how they feel when they are exposed to an advertisement (Morin, 2011).

Are neuromarketing methodologies completing, competing or replacing traditional marketing research methods?

According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA, 2018), 30 percent of marketers believe consumer neuroscience will replace traditional research techniques. Sixty-four percent of them believe that consumer neuroscience will complement traditional techniques.  Neuromarketing methodologies are not in themselves sufficient to understand consumer behavior and to solve any marketing problems. But they are "an extension of traditional marketing methods that seeks a deeper level of manipulation based on instinctive responses" (Nemorin, 2017).

For instance, high-priced and time-restricted neuroimaging experiments, large and immovable devices confined to artificial laboratory environments, use of a single neuroimaging device and technology at a time, and potentially unethical manipulation of research subjects (Mileti, and Prete, 2016; Murphy, et al., 2008), have to be taken into account to assess the ability to replace or not traditional research methods. Traditional methods are easier to manage, are less expensive and are effective.

Neuromarketing includes non-invasive and not very expensive and effective methods for some cases, but they also have limitations. For instance, Eye-tracking (ET) measures and records eye positions and movements using eye trackers (Vidal, Turner, Bulling, and Gellersen, 2012), used to improve website design, ads, and packaging) encounters limits. Indeed, eye movements cannot reveal whether a comprehension difficulty, reflected in the eye movement record, leads to a comprehension failure or success (Kaakinen and Hyönä, 2005). Additionally, eye movements cannot reveal thought contents and emotions, so the collection of thinking thanks to qualitative research (interviews) may remedy this. An attractive version is one where the participant's eye movements are played to the subject, and the participant is asked to comment on them (Jarodzka et al., 2010) 

Also, neuromarketing is facing many barrier methods such as fMRI and EEG (Electro-Encephalogram), which can raise ethical issues (violation of consumer's autonomy and privacy), and exceed the rules governed by the General Data Protection Regulation.


Until recently, marketers and academics have had to rely on what they were told or observed (e.g. behavioral measures). Consequently, with the advent of neuroscientific methods, we witness to the promise of helping the marketing area overstep and complete traditional marketing research methods by using insights to the brain and neural activity to predict people's unobservable and observable actions (what they think, feel, say, and do).  As such, neuroscience gives marketing field an exciting new window into the underlying mental processes and activities experienced by their target markets when exposed to specific types of marketing stimuli, and thus it holds great potential for advancing marketing theory and practice (Lee, N., et al, 2006).

Furthermore, even if new templates to improve the reliability of neuromarketing processing methods have emerged (e.g., EMG) (Lajante, Droulers, and Amarantini, 2017), further work in the field remains indispensable.

Similarly, a potential solution that can respond to the shortcomings in neuromarketing of being unable to distinguish qualitative differences (Booth & Freeman, 2014) and other limitations of neuroscientific methods (e.g. intrusive experiments in shopping places, monitor consumers 'mental in real-time, etc.) is the use of nanotechnologies. The latter associate various technologies to approve results obtained by different neuroscientific tools, integrate neurophysiological field indicators with laboratory neuroimaging results and highlight ethical issues raised from the use of these technologies and easy-to-use nanodevices (Mileti, et al., 2016).



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