Neuromarketing: thinking beyond the lab

Neuroscience provides us with deeper insights into how consumers think, feel and make decisions than ever available before and these insights have the potential to revolutionise traditional marketing practice by providing us with new directions when it comes to dealing with habitual buyers or shaping considered purchase decisions, revitalising mature brands, designing communications campaigns that deliver results, priming the consumer along the path to purchase, or using disruption to gain market share. But the application of neuroscience to these sorts of strategic issues—something known as neuromarketing—is not always understood.    

With ‘neuromarketing’ returning 1,100,000 results on Google and Amazon listing 184 books on the topic, it can be an intimidating subject. But more and more marketers and their agencies are testing ads, logos, package designs and other collateral material in labs, typically by assessing the reaction of consumers on the basis of brain activity. This is useful: it can tell us if, say, an ad is activating emotions or leading to memory formation. Importantly, we can assess memory formation in the non-conscious mind, something that can’t be measured by traditional research techniques such as asking about ad recall.

But what about the effectiveness of the campaign—rather than just an ad—in shaping purchase decisions? And what about the brand strategy this campaign is based on?  

Fortunately, neuroscience has delivered valuable strategic insights a long way beyond the testing of an ad, logo or package design. We now understand, for example, how we need to differentiate strategically between consumers who buy habitually and those who go through a considered purchase decision; how to segment on the basis of goals, given that goals rather than ‘liking’ a brand are driving the purchase decision; how we can prime the consumer while moving down the path to purchase to shape the eventual purchase decision; how we can use behavioural change strategies in a retail environment; how to use digital media and particularly social media more effectively by understanding the fundamental differences in how the consumer processes the messages we send; and how we can innovate—and even disrupt—without losing the consumer in the process. 

These and other strategic issues can be addressed by taking a neuromarketing approach. It opens up new strategic directions and delivers insights of strategic importance that can assist marketers and their agencies to lift the effectiveness of marketing, brand, communications, shopper marketing and innovation strategies. 

  • Dr Peter Steidl, the author of Neurobranding, co-author of the just released book Neuromarketing for Dummies and a consultant who works with companies in over 20 countries, is holding a Neuromarketing Masterclass in Auckland on 27 September. Places are limited to 24. For more information on the session and to book tickets visit www.neurothinking.com or contact Steidl at [email protected]

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