In the last few years, the demand for neuroscience research in marketing has been on the rise. Companies are investing a major part of their research budgets in studying the neural activity in the brain to understand what triggers human feelings, thoughts and actions. Companies like Facebook and OkCupid have come under fire for using the findings of neuroscience to manipulate human emotions, but if done ethically, the field of neuroscience has a major scope that can help marketers understand their audience much better. Let us understand the concept of neuroscience and look at how it can be used ethically by marketers and brands.
What is Neuroscience?
Neuroscience, also known as neuromarketing is the study of the brain to predict and potentially manipulate consumer behaviour and decision-making. In the past five years, various groundbreaking studies have demonstrated the potential it has to create value for brands and marketers. Studies can be carried out to see and understand how various branding properties can influence and trigger human emotions. Next, let’s look at some techniques of neuroscience that help brands get insights to create effective brand communication.
Techniques Used in the Study of Neuroscience by Marketers
Eye-tracking is an important tool used by neuroscience to understand what initially catches the interest of the consumer. Cameras are employed to track and monitor where people look first when confronted with a particular marketing stimulus. This method can be used for a wide range of studies, including the study of websites, packaging or adverts. It can also be effective for understanding what grabs people’s attention in physical stores with shelves and displays. Insights from such studies can help brands improve their brand communications and strategies to increase efficiency.
Brain Scanning is one of the most effective ways brands can understand the impact their communication has on their customers. It is the most sophisticated neuroscience technology at present but is also the most expensive to use. In order to study the brain activity, two primary tools – fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephalogram) can be used. One uses strong magnetic fields to track the changes in blood flow across the brain, whereas the other reads brain cell activity by placing sensors on the subject’s scalp. This method is effective for brands wanting a forensic understanding of how various marketing stimuli can affect the brain so they can learn more about the effect it leaves behind.
Implicit Reaction Times
Another neuroscience method that can be adopted by marketers is checking the implicit reaction time by recording how quickly people respond to questions in a survey. This can help marketers gain great insights into the confidence quotient of the respondent’s answers and use the insights from these studies to create more effective online surveys.
Conducting biometric testing is another technique used by neuroscience to track heart and respiration rates through monitors, and sweat levels through galvanic skin sensors. This technique can help marketers understand the intensity of emotions as studies show that a person’s physical state changes in response to a marketing stimulus.
Another popular and widely used technique to measure the physical response of people to various brand assets is by studying the facial expressions of the respondents. This technique can be easily used by recording facial expressions with webcams during online virtual surveys. This method is highly effective and can help marketers decode the real reaction of each respondent to various kinds of content and branding assets.
The Ethical Aspects of Neuroscience
The application of neuroscience in marketing is a relatively new phenomenon. Consequently, marketers who use such techniques should make sure they are ethical in their approach. Brands that add value to the customer’s life and do so with complete transparency will be successful without leaving consumers feeling manipulated or deceived.