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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Get Your Learn On: Neuromarketing

A recent Time magazine article takes a look at the research neuroscientists are conducting regarding the brain's decision-making process, and what the potential implications may be for Big Biz. Advances in brain imaging- which allow scientists to watch the brain's reactions to external stimuli such as purchasing decisions- are shaping up to have true value for marketers.


Studies seeking to understand the human decision making process is nothing new, but the article does highlight some of the more interesting research. In one study, scientists placed volunteers into a MRI machine and presented them with pictures of about 80 products, and their associated prices. The testing showed that the brain actually evaluates purchasing decisions based on the anticipated pain or pleasure that the decision will cause. When subjects saw prices that they felt were too high or otherwise unagreeable, the area of the brain associated with pain was activated. Similarly, agreeable prices lit up the pleasure sensors.

While all of this is mostly academic in its current form, the findings of the study do reveal the critical importance of solid branding in this ultra-cluttered landscape that we live in. The brain analyzes and makes decisions in such a short time, that key shortcuts such as brand recognition and favorability help it to quickly pare down data and make decisions as efficiently as possible, to make room for the next decision that needs to be made.

I'll be interested to see, as this research begins to move toward application and away from academics, how (if) the corporate world will react. Makes me think of a survey I came across recently, conducted by the brand strategy firm Prophet, which asked a wide swath of senior-level marketers about their companies reaction to new/innovative marketing strategies. 37% of marketers admit that new marketing approaches in their company are only adopted when they have been proven to be successful in the market. Hmm...

1 comment:

Neuro Guy said...

While most of what you are hearing about in neuromarketing is academic work, some companies are indeed spending money on fMRI ad testing, and neuroscience profs are starting consultancies to tap into this market.

There has been interesting work on branding, too. (See Brain Branding.) In the short run, the branding work may be more significant than ad analysis.