Understanding Brain Science :
As an alternative to traditional consumer research, some researches have begun to develop sophisticated techniques from neuroscience that monitor brain activity to better gauge consumer response to marketing.
The term neuromarketing describes brain research on the effect of marketing stimuli. Firms are using EEG ( electroencephalograph) technology to correlate brand activity with physiological cues such as skin temperature or eye movement and thus gauge how people react to ads.
Researches studying the brain have found different results form conventional research methods.One group of researcher at UCLA used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to find that the Super Bowl ads for which subjects displayed the highest brain activity were different from the ads with the highest stated preferences.
Other research found little effect from product placement unless the product in question played an integral role in the story-line.
Several studies have found higher correlations with brain wave research and behavior then with the surveys.
One study found that brain waves better predicted music purchases than stated music preferences.
One major finding from neurological consumer research is that many purchase decisions appear to be characterized ”as a largely unconscious habitual process, as distinct from the rational, conscious, information-processing model of economists and traditional marketing textbooks.
” Even basic decisions, such as the purchase of gasoline, seem to be influenced by brain activity at the sub-rational level.
A group of researchers in England used EEG to monitor cognitive functions related to memory recall and attentiveness for 12 different regions of the brain as subjects were es-posed at advertising. Brain wave activity in different regions indicated different emotional responses.
For example, heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex is characteristic of an ”approach” response to an ad and indicates an attraction to the stimulus. in contrast, a spike in brain activity in the right prefrontal cortex is indicative of a strong revulsion to the stimulus.
In yet another part of the brain, the degree of memory formation activity correlates with purchase intent.
Other research has shown that people activate different regions of the brain i assessing the personality traits of other people than they do when assessing brands.
Although it may offer different insights from conventional techniques, neurological research can still be fairly expensive and has not been universally accepted.
Given the complexity of the human brain, many researchers caution that it should not form the sole basis for marketing decisions.
The measurement devices to capture brain activity can also be highly obtrusive, using skull caps studded with electrodes or creating artificial exposure conditions.
Others question whether neurological research really offers unambiguous implications for marketing strategy.
Brain Knutson, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Stanford University, compares to use of EEG to ”standing outside a baseball stadium and listening to the crowd to figure out what happened.
” Other critics worry that if the methods do become successful, they will only lead to more marketing manipulation by companies.
Despite controversy, marketers’ endless pursuit of deeper insight about consumers’ response to marketing virtually guarantees continued interest in neuromarketing.