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What is neuromarketing?

The days of guesswork and theory are over. Neuromarketing is the next big concept to dominate the marketing scene. Neuromarketing fuses science with unconscious consumer bias to determine what sells and why.

Sadly, we’re not scientists here at Bigwave. There’s some degree of trial and error to what we do as we simply don’t have the know-how (or the tools) to dig into people’s heads. But we do come loaded with a keen interest in all things marketing.

Marketers can use neuromarketing’s fusion of science and marketing to try to predict (and even try to change) consumer behaviour and decision making. For example, many marketers are already using eye-tracking technology to measure a person’s attention (where people are looking) and arousal (how much a person’s pupil dilates) when looking at webpages, which is having a big impact on the optimisation and effectiveness of e-commerce websites.

This all sounds very technical. So how does this work in the real world?

Coke or Pepsi?

If you had to choose, which one would you pick? If your answer is coke, you’re amongst the two-thirds of people in agreement. Or at least…you think you are.

In a blind taste-test conducted over a decade ago, neuroscientist Read Montague asked people to pick their favourite. Pepsi came out on top as the drink of choice amongst participants. Read conducted the same test once more, only this time, he told people what they were drinking. In this trial, coke was the clear victor.

The only difference between these two bubbly brown drinks in the test participants’ minds was the brand. So, the perceived quality of a brand is perhaps more important to a consumer than the product itself. But this needn’t be a bad thing.

Tapping into what makes you tick

As marketers, many of us pride ourselves on the ability and desire to embrace change and new ways of doing things. The chance to get inside a consumer’s head is too good to ignore. With a wealth of technology at our fingertips, why should we have to use guesswork to determine what works? The answer to many marketing woes is in people’s brains. Science has granted us the ability to understand people’s behaviour and to sell to them accordingly, instead of trying to simply guess what people may want to buy.

This research hasn’t been controversy-free, though. In fact, pessimistic academics and optimistic marketers have squabbled over neuromarketing for years. In 2011, branding consultant Martin Lindstrom published a New York Times editorial suggesting brain scans had shown that the way iPhone users felt about their mobiles was very similar to romantic love. In response, forty-four academics wrote to the editor critiquing the piece.

However, as the field of neuromarketing matures and gains credibility, the future looks bright for data-loving marketers. As the science becomes more reliable and studies become cheaper to run, neuromarketing is advancing rapidly and data-driven marketing decisions being made more and more.

In the future, everything from websites to entire brands could be formulated to specifically appeal to our subconscious desires and preferences.

But for now, pour me a coke.

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