So what is Neuromarketing? We are referring here to Neuromarketing, a combination of studies of client habits and modern neuroscience. With this material, we now know much more about what happens in our minds when shopping. You will now discover which are the most important points.

In the capitalist system in which we live, success in selling more and better is one of the bases of the economy. For this, companies make great efforts so that we buy their products. Advertising, promotional campaigns, and persuasion techniques are good to boost sales. And as if that were not enough, a discipline that studies the consumer’s brain has recently emerged.

What Is Neuromarketing?

I – What Is Neuromarketing?

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Neuromarketing is the application of cognitive neuroscience techniques and knowledge to marketing and communication.

This emerging discipline aims to better understand consumer behavior by identifying the brain mechanisms involved in a purchase or in the face of an advertisement.

In the field of neuroscience, Neuroeconomics and Neuromarketing are disciplined at the crossroads of economics and cognitive neuroscience, which study the influence of cognitive and emotional factors in decision-making, whether investment, purchase, or consumption.

Neuroscience is the set of disciplines whose purpose is to establish the nature of the relationship between cognition and the brain. They explore the unconscious parts of our brains when making decisions.

Before serving the marketing, they work to understand the brain’s functioning and pathologies better. They represent an immense hope for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or epilepsy.

Cognitive neuroscience applied to marketing is based on academic and/or private research, using techniques such as EEG, eye tracking, fMRI (magnetic resonance scanner as in the medical field), electro-dermal response (measurement of sweating), and heart rate. Depending on the field of study, several methods of capturing physiological data can be combined.

So what is the Neuromarketing concept? Neuromarketing refers to two closely related concepts::

* The study, via the neurosciences, of the functioning of the human brain when subjected to advertising stimuli.

* Improved advertising techniques that result.

Until then, sales techniques had dodged science.

They had either survived or had been forgotten by trial or error. However, in recent decades, great progress has been made in our knowledge of different aspects of the human spirit. So today, we know a lot more about things like memory, perception, and motivation.

Moreover, we better understand how the consumer’s brain works thanks to modern Neuro-image techniques. Together, these two skills constitute Neuromarketing, a science that has revolutionized the sales of large companies.

By applying all the discoveries of this discipline, businesses use the biases of our brains to achieve different objectives:

• Create more interesting products

• Improve brand image

• Make the difference between their own products and those of their competitors

• Change the buying environment to improve sales

• Increase profits

• The study of the consumer’s brain has thus become a valuable source of knowledge for selling.

We will now see some of the most common applications of Neuromarketing discoveries.

1. The Design of Caddies

Have you ever wondered why the wheels of caddies, in some large areas, seemed to be crooked? As curious as it may seem, this characteristic follows a definite purpose. It was found that customers tended to pay more attention to shelf products if the caddies’ wheels veered toward the displays. That drives them to buy more!

But this is not the only characteristic of caddies that have been inspired by the study of the consumer’s brain. Size is also important, and our mind is responsible for it: we tend to try to fill the container that we are pushing or carrying. Therefore, the bigger the shopping cart, the more money we will spend.

2. Disposal of Products in Supermarkets

Another practical application of Neuromarketing is the layout of stores and product shelves. We tend to choose what is most accessible and visible (even if it’s only not to get down…).

Thus, the height at which products are placed on the shelves is not trivial. Thanks to techniques such as the pupil movement scanner, we discovered that we tended to buy what was up to our eyes. That’s why the most expensive brands are often up to our face, and the cheapest are below.

In addition, staples are often at the end of the store. To acquire them, we must cross a multitude of spokes that attract our attention. And, generally, we buy a lot more than we expected.

III – How Does Neuromarketing Work?

With the help of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), neuroscientists obtain images revealing the different brain activities. When an area of the brain activates, the magnetic properties of brain tissue are changed. Thus, thanks to the reactions of the brain through emotions, it is now possible to observe how the brain reacts to an advertising campaign, packaging, or a new product launched by a company.

What is neuromarketing in relation to the brain? Neuromarketing is a very advanced scientific way of studying the human brain, especially the prefrontal cortex. It helps to understand consumers’ immediate emotions in the face of a product or advertisement and the consumer’s ability to remember a message from an advertisement or a product. Finally, to evaluate the attractive potential of a product or an advertising message.

The neuro-researcher will scrutinize the consumer’s brain to observe positive or negative brain activities in relation to a product or advertisement. Three factors are taken into account: emotion, memory, and attention.

The goal is to analyze the emotions we do not control when looking at an advertisement. Our brain triggers buying impulses without our knowledge, for example, in direct purchases; without even analyzing the product, we know what we want.

Thousands of pieces of information are sent to our brains when we look at the details of an item in a drawing or a picture on a package.

The main reason for these practices is to study what is known as the “reward circuit,” a zone of pleasure that activates during an experience that brings pleasure.

There are three main methods today.

• Electroencephalogram (EEG).

It consists of performing an electroencephalogram to measure the electric fields on the brain surface every millisecond. An EEG helmet equipped with several electrodes captures the waves emitted by the activity of about twenty brain areas. Easily transportable and relatively cheap, the EEG makes it possible to put a tester in the situation and capture real-time reactions.

• Detection of the Movements of the Face and the Gaze.

Established by the research company Millward Brown. The micromotion analysis is used to recognize in real-time four natures of emotion and their intensity: pleasure, disgust (or confusion), surprise, and disinterest.

The fMRI is the most accurate solution because it is able to visualize the entire brain and make a film of its activity. Researchers can accurately detect which area reacts to a given stimulus among the 52 Brodmann areas (which form the cortex). The stimulus can then be associated with one or more reactions, positive or negative. The main technical disadvantage of MRI is its response time: three seconds.

Under GUF, guinea pigs are subjected to many stimuli: photos and videos, but also smells, objects, food, etc. We observe what areas of the brain are activated: the occipital lobe (view), the hippocampus (memory), the limbic system (emotions), and the cortex pyriform (smell). Scientists specialized in neuroscience analyze the interactions between these zones, which, crossed with the unconscious and the social predetermination, will condition the behavior. The company will favor pleasure areas and stimulus-enabled reward channels to guide its marketing strategies and campaigns to make them more effective.

IV – Effects of These Techniques on the Consumer’s Brain

By reading about these Neuromarketing techniques used in the world of sales, you are surely wondering where consumers’ free will is. Is it so easy to manipulate us to push us to buy a certain product?

This question is precisely the basis of some studies done by R. Mark Wilson, Jeannie Gaines, and Ronald Paul Hill. Unfortunately, the answer is not at all clear. However, just as in persuasion, we know these techniques have a greater effect when we are not paying attention to what we are doing. This is, for example, the case when we are in a hurry.

If you want to avoid falling into the nets of Neuromarketing, it is better that you take your time to do your shopping. Go ahead with a list and try not to add too many products. We also recommend you go there without hunger because the caloric products attract you.

These little tricks can mark the difference between purchases motivated by your needs or motivated by the store that sells the products.

V – The Dangers of  Neuromarketing

However, it is necessary to remain vigilant, particularly with the children, very solicited by the multinationals because they are more sensitive to different stimuli. The best example is the McDonald’s fast-food chain, which has become its hobby horse. With big shots of colorful commercials and toys offered, the American group recruits its customers from an early age.

The objective sought is obviously to increase citizen consumption by no longer considering its capacity for judgment but its receptivity to a stimulus, thereby removing the rationality of its needs. Using neural research to influence consumer choice is comparable to a form of higher mental manipulation than conventional advertising.

Neuromarketing, and the commercial organizations that use it seek to influence, without the citizens being aware, the desires upstream of the purchase, seek de facto to reduce their freedom of choice. However, if societies want to be democratic, citizens must be informed of attempts at manipulation, particularly via the mass media, of which they are the object.

VI – The Origins of Neuromarketing

The term “Neuromarketing” first appeared in the early 2000s. This approach was born from the research of Dr. Read Montague, a neurologist and professor at Baylor College in Houston, Texas. He sought to understand why soda drinkers, unable to tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi blind, preferred the first when they saw the label.

The world of colas has been divided in two for a century: Pepsi and Coke. In the 70s, a marketing test was practiced to confront the two brands. This test consisted of a blind tasting of both products. The result was simple, 75% of people prefer Pepsi, while the reality of the market is the opposite.

The experiment was conducted in 2004 with 67 individuals by Dr. Montague. He passed the test blindly, exposing the group to a functional magnetic resonance scanner (fMRI) tester. In the first part of the test, consumers do not know the brand of cola they are testing. It is found that a particular part of the brain, the putamen reacts violently when consumers drink Pepsi and obviously less when it is Coke.

The putamen is located deep in the brain. A small part of the putamen is important in the circuit of pleasure, particularly good taste. The putamen is part of our primitive brain; it is the seat of immediate pleasures, instinctive; the Pepsi, therefore, activates more the zone of pleasure.

In the second part of the test, the drinkers are shown the brand of soda they consume via a screen. As in the first tests in the 70s, testers say they prefer the taste of Coca-Cola.

Imaging will show that their primitive brain area, the putamen, is not activated by Pepsi (or to a lesser extent by Coca) and is another area that will be activated, the area of the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, i.e., the area of consciousness and memory.

When the consumer does not know what he drinks, he says he prefers Pepsi and his reptilian brain demonstrates it. When the consumer is aware of the drink he is eating, he says he prefers Coca, and his reptilian brain, which decides the good taste, is inhibited by his cortex (the conscience and memory of the brand). The most surprising is that this result remains valid even if, in both cases, it actually tastes Pepsi.

Conclusion: it does not matter the taste of the soda because the preference during this tasting depends not on the taste but on the brand that one thinks to taste.

It has long been known to taste with the eyes, but Montague brilliantly demonstrates that one also tastes with his memory and the conscience of the mark. This finally explains the failure of marketing a new Coke in the 80s, which is better taste blind than Pepsi.

VII – Use of Neuromarketing by Companies

This study method is increasingly used by companies, especially in supermarkets, to know the elements that trigger the customer’s decision fully. Thanks to Neuromarketing, it is now possible for companies to know the emotions that trigger purchases from consumers.

The big brands are trying to understand better how the brain reacts. Studies are no longer based on a questionnaire but on MRI or electroencephalograms. The secretion of hormones is also observed in the face of different stimuli of marks.

This method provides companies with crucial information so that they can establish consumer-friendly marketing and marketing strategies. Indeed, they can adapt their advertising and their products to meet the new needs and expectations of their customers perfectly.

Neuromarketing applies to very few communication campaigns because these studies are very expensive, and it is easier to use traditional marketing studies. Some companies that use it claim that they can predict the success of a campaign.

There are currently more than one hundred Neuromarketing companies in the world, mainly in the USA but also in Belgium. Industrialists can spend up to € 120,000 for a Neuromarketing study, and an MRI test would cost around € 1,000 per person. At this price, only the richest have access to it. Kraft Food, Danone, L’Oreal, Colgate, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co., Unilever, Mac Donald’s, and many other major brands, as well as transportation companies, banks, and insurance companies, use it. However, defend themselves, fearing that this will harm their image.

*** 5 brands that use Neuromarketing

1 – McDonald’s

What is neuromarketing for Mcdonald’s? McDonald’s used neuromarketing to find out which odors positioned the brand as healthy. The retained odor was used in cleaning products. The surprising results they have observed a better perception of the brand of 7%. The chain denies having manipulated its customers. It was just a test, and the experiment would have been abandoned because it would have meant changing the formulation of the cleaners and, therefore, the production line.

2 – Coca-Cola

What is neuromarketing for Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola. With the Polar Bear Pub, Coca wanted to associate a positive image with it. It is evaluative conditioning. It is a phenomenon that modifies the evaluation of a neutral stimulus by associating it with an emotionally charged stimulus. A neutral stimulus (Coca-Cola) will become positive after being associated with a positive stimulus (friendly polar bears). The positive or negative content of an emotionally charged stimulus, in turn, influences the evaluation of the stimulus with which it is associated.

3 – Juvamine

The brand is back in the mores of advertising with its slogan now unavoidable: “If Juvabien is Juvamine”; broadcast 3 times in a row. A technique that annoys both in form and efficiency since the brand has made a reputation and especially a name. Neuromarketing allows the improvement of persuasion tools through the identification of the brain mechanisms that intervene during a purchase or against an advertisement.

4 – Sony

To harmonize its visual identity online, Sony has launched an MRI measurement campaign to define the best structure. Three models have been selected: a very refined structure containing few colors; another organized in very colored blocks, imagined by the agency and respecting the specifications to the letter; and one last, more visual. No model stood out. Sony had to combine the three for a new proposal. We realized that the very graphic and colorful model first generated a feeling of pleasure. Then an emotion associated with fear was activated. In fact, all these colors created unconscious confusion for the user. These are things impossible to see based solely on a classical study.

5 – Unilever

The Unilever giants use the detection of the movements of the face and the gaze. The analysis of micro-movements is used to recognize in real-time the nature of emotions and their intensity: pleasure, disgust (or confusion), and surprise.

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