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Neuromarketing: When science and marketing collide

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There was a time when marketing was simply a dressed up sales pitchmarketing materials were designed to look pretty, copy was written to sound smart and reached roughly 70 percent of a viewing audience with one television advertisement. Times have changed.

most delivery channels were trusted by consumers. That was also when advertisers

Consumers have gotten savvier. And, advertisers have more opportunities than ever to reach audiences. Through cable television, the Internet and mobile phones, its not surprising that the sheer number of ads viewed per day by the average American has grown from roughly 500 ads in 1970 to nearly 5,000.

For this reason, marketers are fighting harder than ever to combat the noise

caused by competing ads in order to capture the attention of consumers. The key to this fight? Highly targeted communications based on thorough research and science.

Traditionally, marketers and advertisers have long utilized focus group-based brand. But just like the change to a consumer-driven marketplace, how we gather consumer opinions and reactions is changing.

research as a means of gauging responses to products and communications of a

It may sound futuristic, but there are now technologies that allow marketers to scientifically understand the mind of the consumer. Through brain

activity-based research, marketers can pinpoint what exactly causes people to marketing tactics.

buy a product and uncover how the brain responds to various advertising and

Its not science fiction; its neuromarketing and its changing the ways in which major brands like Campbells Soup and Pepsi are marketing products and enhancing their brand image.

Weird science
marketing messages. The findings of such are then used to fine tune

Neuromarketing is the practice of using technology to measure the brain activity of consumer subjects as a way to discover how people respond to products and

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Neuromarketing: When science and marketing collide

expensive media buy.

The thought behind neuromarketing is that buying decisions arent necessarily rational decisions, rather they are decisions made deep within the brain and based on an amalgam of thoughts and feelings.

When we walk down an aisle in a grocery store, our purchasing decisions are made in less than four seconds, said Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy and marketing expert. There is no way we can think about that in a complete way. Those decisions take place in the subconscious part of the brain. By studying and understanding these subconscious and emotional areas of the brain, marketers and advertisers can make informed decisions on what people like, dont like, want, need, fear, are bored by, excited by and so on to alter products and messages most likely to appeal to consumers. Unlike traditional market research, neuromarketing removes subjectivity and the potential for a test subject be inarticulate, indecisive or untruthful in reporting. Instead of opinion, neuromarketing measures by attention level, emotional engagement and memory storage.3

The drive behind neuromarketing is to discover how consumers are actually

responding to marketing messages, not how they report they are responding, neuromarketing blog, Verilliance. Its not so much about appealing to the find out whats not working.4

or will respond, explained Jennifer Williams, Web marketer and author of the

subconscious as it is about finding out what the subconscious is saying in order to

Neuromarketing research is usually conducted through one or more of these clinical techniques:

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)is a technique

that shows what parts of the brain are active by detecting changes in blood flow and the amount of oxygen consumed in different areas. The more active an area, the more oxygen and blood flow
1 Randall, Kevin. Neuromarketing Hope and Hype: 5 Brands Conducting Brain Research | Fast Company. FastCompany.com. 14 Sept. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kevin-randall/ integrated-branding/neuromarketing-hope-and-hype-5-brands-conducting-brain-resear>. 2 Pekala, Nancy. Why Buy? The Role of Neuromarketing in Understanding Consumer Behavior. Marketing Matters (27 Feb. 2009). Print. 3 Randall, Kevin. Neuromarketing Hope and Hype: 5 Brands Conducting Brain Research | Fast Company. FastCompany.com. 14 Sept. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kevin-randall/ integrated-branding/neuromarketing-hope-and-hype-5-brands-conducting-brain-resear>. 4 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010.
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these products and messages in order to be most effective, prior to making an

exposed to marketing material. While this technique provides

researchers the ability to see very specific location-based brain activity, it costs upwards of $15,000 per 20-subject test group.6 Electroencephalography (EEG)this technique (if you can

pronounce it!) measures the electrical activity of the brain (neurons) as recorded by electrodes placed on a subjects head. Subjects are either given special EEG headsets to wear while exposed to marketing materials. While not as specific or accurate as fMRIs, the same cost as a typical focus group, making them extremely accessible to most businesses.7 Eye trackingeyes are the main focus in this technique as the location and pattern of a subjects gaze is studied to determine which images or portions of an image illicit the most attention.

EEGs are much less intrusive and can also be conducted at about

Galvanic skin response (GSR)is a technique that measures the conjunction with certain emotions.

subtle changes in skin (such as temperature and sweat) that occur in

Applied neuroscienceis a technique that involves no scanning or monitoring of any kind. Instead this technique is market research

with a focus on the foundations of neuroscience to train marketers and sales teams to design pitches, offers and marketing messages that appeal to the brain on a subconscious level. This technique is

based off of secondary researchor research already conducted by and nonprofits. In observing a subjects brain activity through fMRI and EEG techniques,

othersand is therefore much more accessible to smaller businesses

researchers are essentially looking for what areas of the brain light up in

conjunction with certain sounds, smells, images and messages. This information is

5 Scientists Read Minds with Brain Scanner. CBC.ca - Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. 12 Mar. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/03/12/tech-090312-mind-reading-fmri.html>. 6 Ferguson, Rick. Neuromarketing: What the Human Brain Means to Your Campaign. Chief Marketer. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://chiefmarketer.com/crm/1027-neuromarketing-loyalty-brain/index.html>. 7 Ferguson, Rick. Neuromarketing: What the Human Brain Means to Your Campaign. Chief Marketer. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://chiefmarketer.com/crm/1027-neuromarketing-loyalty-brain/index.html>. 8 Ferguson, Rick. Neuromarketing: What the Human Brain Means to Your Campaign. Chief Marketer. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://chiefmarketer.com/crm/1027-neuromarketing-loyalty-brain/index.html>.
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required.5 Subjects are put into a cylindrical imaging device and

correlation to be put into context.

Emotions cannot necessarily be accurately described, said Gemma Calvert, head of Multisensory Research Group at Britains University of Bath. By using brain scans in neuromarketing, she said in an interview with Business Week, We can the margin of error.9

see the discrepancy between what you say and what your brain says, and reduce

After this research has been conducted on consumer individuals, the information marketers eliminate unpleasant or ineffective aspects to marketing materials or alter materials to enhance the overall consumer experience.

garnered often takes the marketing team back to the drawing board. Results help

Neuromarketing is still a new concept and innovations are constantly being made to improve the accuracy and the affordability of research. While new, many big brands have already gotten on board with the concept in order to grow and

benefit from a new tactic in a space where the competition may not be currently present. These brands are using neuromarketing research to develop marketing efforts and advertisements that appeal to consumers in very specific ways... Brands and logos that appeal to emotion

While its a known fact in marketing that a brands image and visual identity are important factors in successful advertising, it wasnt until recently that it

was known just how important. A few short years ago, a report was released by the Radiological Society of North America that illustrated through fMRI scans processed these images in different areas of the brain than unknown brands. Specifically, known brands were processed in the areas of the brain that are responsible for positive emotions, while unknown brands tended to be processed in the areas of the brain that are responsible for negative emotions.10 that when people were presented with images of a known brand their brains

Up until this study was released, marketers generally operated under the idea that if you could get people to think about a brand in a certain way, you can is actually the first factor that decides if people will even pay attention to a then get them to change feelings or behaviors. Now, its known that emotion

messageemotion shapes our conscious thoughts, not the other way around.11

9 Haq, Amber. This Is Your Brain on Advertising. BusinessWeek. 8 Oct. 2007. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2007/gb2007108_286282.htm>. 10 Dooley, Roger. Brain Branding: The Power of Strong Brands | Neuromarketing. Neuroscience Marketing. 28 Nov. 2006. Web. 18 June 2010. <http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/brain-branding.htm>. 11 OConnor, Tim. The Dark Side of Market Research. Research Access. 29 May 2010. Web. 14 June 2010. <http://researchaccess.com>.
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then used with traditional focus-group questions and analyzed for causation and

Discount retailer Wal-Mart and cola conglomerate Pepsi both recognized that it was time for an update to their looks in 2008 but neither brand wanted to neuromarketing to safely make the jump: After conducting research, Wal-Mart discovered overwhelmingly negative change so drastically that they become unrecognizable. These brands turned to

emotions in relation to its branding that had been in place since 1992. It elicited feelings of soullessness and made consumers feel daunted. So, in 2006 the

brand set out to redesign the logo to appear friendlier and more accessible to its target audiences. The lower case font paired with a less-obtrusive and powerful

star subconsciously helped convey the new tagline of Save money. Live better.12 Figure 1: Wal-Marts logo redesign13

When Pepsi first unveiled its new logo that same year, many speculated that its designers were trying to subliminally associate the feel-good emotions of hope

and change that President Barack Obamas campaign logo stood for by choosing a similar design. Design company, Arnell, came forward with 27-page document detailing neuromarketing research it claimed was really responsible for the new logo.

While criticized, the document presents an interesting case of geometric shapes showcase a series of emotions conveyed by the lookspecifically, the new logo

and golden ratio references as it relates to past Pepsi logos. The details of which

can be interpreted by multiple emoticons illustrating positive emotions featuring the white band as a mouth, tilted at various angles with the addition of eyes to the red band.

12 Whats in a New Logo? - Wal-Mart - Softening Its Image (11) - FORTUNE. CNNMoney.com. Fortune, 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 June 2010. <http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/fortune/0908/gallery.new_logos_redesigns.fortune/11.html>. 13 Whats in a New Logo? - Wal-Mart - Softening Its Image (11) - FORTUNE. CNNMoney.com. Fortune, 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 June 2010. <http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/fortune/0908/gallery.new_logos_redesigns.fortune/11.html>.
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Since this study, many big name brands have gone through logo redesigns.

Packaging that attracts the senses With the help of numerous marketing firms, some of which specializing in

neuromarketing, Campbells soup spent two years studying the effect of its

brand and marketing images and efforts on consumers. With a small sample

of 40 consumers, Campbells tested everything from changes in heart rate and skin moisture through GSR, along with some brain scan interpretations. While

it was found that there was a positive relationship between consumers and the deterred people from purchasing certain soups. Essentially, the logo as it was they were looking at.

Campbells logo, it was decided that the prominent placing of the logo actually made it difficult for the consumer to immediately recognize what kind of soup

Additionally, research reinforced the emotional connection between consumers

and the label. It was once believed that the spoonful of soup on the label elicited a strong emotional response from consumers, but neuromarketing research was

able to determine that it actually was not the spoon that people felt all warm and fuzzy about, it was the image of the soup itself. Steam added to the image of the soup also drastically increased engagement and emotional response.

Campbells culminated these findings and reinforced them with findings from traditional focus group research to develop a new label for its iconic soups. expressions and eye movement to conduct final consumer research on the redesign.

Toward the end of the process, in-store testing took place to monitor the facial

14 Whats in a New Logo? - Pepsi - Wave Good-bye to the Smile (6) - FORTUNE. CNNMoney.com. Fortune, 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 June 2010. <http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/fortune/0908/gallery.new_logos_redesigns.fortune/6.html>.
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Figure 2: Pepsis logo redesign14

Campbells when it announced the new look. So far, Campbells claims its redesign has been successful.

Noisy billboards

Neuromarketing research has indicated on a general level that certain marketing efforts can have optimal effects on consumers when more than one sense is engaged. Cable network A&E had this research in mind when it created billboards for its show, Paranormal State.

A billboard with the shows name and airing information along with simple text in a creepy font reading 73% of Americans Believe was erected with

technology known as directional audio. Directional audio essentially takes sound beams of light, resulting in the aural illusion of someone whispering in your ear. eerily whispering Whats that?! Whats that?! Its not your imagination.

waves and pinpoints them in a way similar in thought to how a laser concentrates

When people passed by the billboard on the sidewalk below, they heard someone

While its research may have been based on neuromarketing findings, the end result was success by way of word-of-mouth promotion created by the new billboard and viral videos through social media of the billboards effect. Smelly branding

Neuromarketing places great emphasis on emotion and the part of the brain responsible for processing scents which is heavily tied to emotion. Scents can

bring us back to specific experiences and memories. Many marketers are using this thought process as a neuromarketing tactic. Advertisements paired with a scent
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The image below is a result of that redesign, with explanation offered by

increase in brand recall when a scent is matched with marketing material or interior design.15

Some studies, such as one conducted on slot players in Las Vegas and another on Nike shoe stores, have shown that a scented environment leads to consumers stay longer and spend more16. A few examples of brands using scents to sell17: Omni Hotels has a lemon grass and green tea scent pumped into its lobbies and public spaces.

Rolls Royce reproduced the scent of its great seller, the 1965 Silver Cloud, and sprays it under the seats to recreate the scent of this classic Roller.

Singapore Airlines has gone so far as to patent a scent of lotus put on hot towels handed to passengers before takeoff.

flowers and bamboo forests that is worn by flight attendants and

These brands are creating a relationship in the subconscious minds of consumers,

aiming to align a positive brand experience with a pleasant scent. When executed the brand and the brands experience whenever that scent is smelled. Print ads that counter neuroses

successfully, consumers will not only engage positively with a brand, but will recall

Neuromarketing helped snack company Frito-Lay to learn more about their marketing efforts significantly, based on one emotion: guilt. Their research

largest consumer market, women. What they learned caused the brand to shift showed that some women are wired to feel guiltier than men and snacks are a trigger of this guilt. Frito-Lay realized it could not remove the feeling of guilt

from women and snacking, but it could take efforts to avoid triggering. To do so, the brand began promoting products with health benefits and creating products for the calorie-minded woman, like single-serving packages and baked snacks.

15 Dooley, Roger. Scent Nearly Doubles Sales. Neuroscience Marketing. 17 June 2010. Web. 19 June 2010. <http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/scent-nearly-doubles-sales.htm>. 16 Scent Marketing: Leading Consumers By The Nose. Sellsius. Web. 21 June 2010. <http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/branding/scent-marketing-leading-consumers-by-the-nose/2006/04/30/>. 17 Scent Marketing: Leading Consumers By The Nose. Sellsius. Web. 21 June 2010. <http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/branding/scent-marketing-leading-consumers-by-the-nose/2006/04/30/>. 18 Clifford, Stephanie. Frito-Lay Tries to Enter the Minds (and Lunch Bags) of Women. The New York Times. 24 Feb. 2009. Web. 17 June 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/business/media/25adco.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2>.
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have been shown to double sales while other studies have shown a significant

fonts and to downplay guilt while playing up humor and sensible snacking. One print ad depicts two women surveying a Baked Lays bag. These things are the bra-enhanced chest, responds, I wouldnt go that far. The un-guilt trip worked: Following the campaign that resulted from revenue growth and seven percent profit growth.19 Ad comparison from virtual to reality

best invention since the push-up bra, one woman says. The other, admiring her

neuromarketing research, Frito-Lay North America posted an eight percent

In 2007, 20th Century Fox teamed with neuromarketing firm, Neuroco, to use

EEGs and eye tracking to test the response rate to ads inserted into a videogame. Subjects went walking in a virtual city and were exposed to billboards for various films. Researchers were able to control the content and the placement of ads billboards, sides of busses, etc.along with the illumination of ads, as a means research was able to illustrate to the Fox marketing team that a saturation campaign in real life would lead to diminishing returns.20

to determine which ads would be most effective in real life. This neuromarketing

Melissa Mullen, director of research for Foxs international theatrical division said, There is no way we could have gotten this kind of actionable information from traditional research approaches.21 Fox now uses neuromarketing regularly to test the effectiveness of its movie trailers as well as ad placements.22

She blinded me with neuromarketing


While companies continue to dive right in and explore neuromarketing; one of the obstacles that have to be overcome in the field pertains to ethics. Some people believe that neuromarketing subconsciously imbeds ideas (mind control) or manipulates human thought process. While

theres no doubt it uses information obtained from the subconscious mind, controlling a message or, rather, developing one that is most effective.

neuromarketing is not about controlling the consumer so much as it is about

19 Clifford, Stephanie. Frito-Lay Tries to Enter the Minds (and Lunch Bags) of Women. The New York Times. 24 Feb. 2009. Web. 17 June 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/business/media/25adco.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2>. 20 Haq, Amber. This Is Your Brain on Advertising. BusinessWeek. 8 Oct. 2007. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2007/gb2007108_286282.htm>. 21 Haq, Amber. This Is Your Brain on Advertising. BusinessWeek. 8 Oct. 2007. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2007/gb2007108_286282.htm>. 22 Haq, Amber. This Is Your Brain on Advertising. BusinessWeek. 8 Oct. 2007. Web. 10 June 2010. <http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2007/gb2007108_286282.htm>.
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Other resulting tactics included designing packaging with feminine colors and

ethics question a lot but she doesnt think that the question of ethics is of great concern. People want better products, and they enjoy ads and marketing that

appeals to them. Thats why people volunteer for focus groups, said Williams.23 Essentially, Williams said that any possibility of misguided ethics lies within the

brand, not the field of neuromarketing. When a company is marketing a product are much quicker to jump on the ethics of neuromarketing is because it takes out a lot of the guesswork out of marketing and it does so by taking a look at how our brains respond.24

that is harmful, thats unethical no matter what tools they use. The reason people

The goal of neuromarketing, explains Williams, is to make it easier for people to receive messages as well as for brands to convey them. Its hard to find added.25

something unethical about wanting to improve the customers experience, she

What it all means


Neuromarketing is appealing to researchers and brands alike because it is

undeniably interesting, somewhat controversial and a totally new tactic to the traditional marketing tactics, neuromarketing is successful and proponents of neuromarketing will tell you the return on investment is great.26 Firms and consultancies devoted to neuromarketing are popping up in major cities, big brand CEOs are calling in neuromarketing experts to work on specific campaigns and industry conferences and conventions are headlining neuromarketing authors and bloggers. Even still, neuromarketing hasnt reached full adoption in the marketing world, in part due to large expenses of many

scene. Evidence also suggests that when executed successfully in conjunction with

processes and the inability for many results to be interpreted by the layman.

Its true that currently neuromarketing is not accessible to many small businesses or nonprofits, said Williams. However, I think we may see that change in the next couple of years. Neuro-engineering firms are developing affordable EEG will make sense of the data to non-neuroscientists.27

headsets and there are other collaborations going on to develop software that

23 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010. 24 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010. 25 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010. 26 Williams, Jennifer. Neuromarketing: Add It to the Marketing Toolbox. Visibility Magazine. Web. 19 June 2010. <http://www.visibilitymagazine.com/disc-inc-/jennifer-williams/neuromarketing-----add-it-to-themarketing-toolbox>. 27 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010.
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As a blogger and frequent Tweeter on neuromarketing, Williams said she gets the

are locked out of obtaining data first-hand (primary research), there are resources out there to gain access to secondary research. Furthermore, Williams shares a

few tips for businesses and nonprofits to incorporated basic neuromarketing in current marketing efforts28: Incorporate usability testing

Usability testing, especially in regards to websites, has incorporated eye tracking methods for years as a way to increase engagement and recall will post your site for user review and testing. Closely watch website while encouraging reading. Consider online website usability tools that analytics to determine which pages and links visitors are viewing and

clicking in relation to page content. Products and services should also in objectively testing. Take cues from neuromarketing for design elements There is considerable data already available that points to best practices in design to improve clarity and communication, often developed based on neuromarketing findings. The size of a logo, the space between letters, the color of a background, the use of font styles, the use of colors and other factors all make a difference. Be mindful of copy It is important to remember that its not all about designcopy

be subject to usability testing and many agencies exist to assist brands

matters. Generally speaking, copy that is you-centric, emotionally most effective. Williams suggests that all marketers should become what works with copy and what doesnt. Know that users prefer the now

engaging, visually easy to read and cognitively easy to think about is versed in theories like cognitive fluency in order to fully understand

Neuromarketing research has shown that most people will choose

to have immediate gratification as opposed to gratification that is

delayed. Meaning they want that free gift now, not after they send in process so consumers are rewarded sooner rather than later.

twelve proofs of purchase. Especially online, streamline the conversion

28 Williams, Jennifer. Neuromarketing: Add It to the Marketing Toolbox. Visibility Magazine. Web. 19 June 2010. <http://www.visibilitymagazine.com/disc-inc-/jennifer-williams/neuromarketing-----add-it-to-themarketing-toolbox>.
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In the meantime, Williams suggests that for those businesses and nonprofits that

a tool to be used within an overall marketing strategyone that reinforces or supports messaging, media and the brand. It will not be successful as a standalone strategy.

What we already know from behavioral economics and neuromarketing is that people are remarkably bad at predicting their own behavior, said Williams. So once neuromarketing tools are more accessible, I think well see market researchers using neuromarketing as a primary tool. 29

Neuromarketing is here to stayscience fiction is now reality. Big brands, small brands and nonprofits should consider exploring this tool sooner rather than

later. Williams agrees: Its already here; its more prevalent than you think, and its important to be ready to make the shift to more science-based marketing.

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Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. Its product offerings include giveaways, business gifts, personalized gifts,

29 Williams, Jennifer. Andrea Wisdorf Interview with Jennifer Williams. E-mail interview. 18 June 2010.
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All in all, it is important for marketers to keep in mind that neuromarketing is