The term ‘neuromarketing’ was introduced in 2002 by Dutch marketing professor Ale Smidts, however, it was in the 1990s that it was first developed. Researchers applying neuropsychology to market research in various ways, such as fMRI scans, have been used to try and bridge the gap between what traditional market research results have shown and what consumer choices have proven.
Traditional Marketing Research
The use of traditional methods, such as focus groups and surveys often yield results that differ from consumer practice. One suggestion for the difference is that groupthink and the pressure to please authority figures can manipulate results.
In the current climate, marketers are relying on analytics from social media platforms and their websites to make informed decisions about marketing performance.
In December last year, New York Magazine released a report claiming that half of website traffic is fake.
US Justice Department reports said that about half of traffic and engagement is fraudulent with ‘click farms’ and paid followers distorting actual digital marketing figures.
The question then is, can neuromarketing help to create a clearer picture if the information from traditional and digital marketing and research is manipulated?
The argument to support the use of neuromarketing is that it could eliminate manipulated responses. Some marketers and advertising companies which champion the use of neuropsychology say that it could help advertisers better understand if storytelling and emotional resonance sells, in which case companies could save millions on advertising and better understand which stimulus best sells their product or service.
Measuring people’s unconscious response to stimuli could help guide product development and marketing. It is claimed that by measuring heart rates, hormonal responses, brain activity and other physical indicators, researchers might close the gap between the incompatibility of traditional marketing research responses and point of sale actions.
Further, the use of neuromarketing is expected to solidify the argument that sharing of ‘moments’ or ‘inspiring’ stories is the answer to engaging your audience.
Pros and Cons
While neuromarketing could answer some questions which would be useful for product testing, many would argue that it is a pseudoscience when applied to it marketing.
It has been well established that ‘tribal’ marketing, gathering an audience based on people feeling connected to a product, service or community, is an effective way to reach your audience. To discover who that audience is, using analytics tools is the most direct and cost-effective way to do that.
Neuromarketing is expensive and some researchers have suggested that is also an invasion of privacy if the research participants are not made aware of the research parameters. This is an ongoing discussion that deserves further academic, peer-reviewed documentation so we avoid the horrors that SciFi predicts for such uses of technology (think ‘Black Mirror).
At this time, the argument for creating quality content is boosted by the questions posed by the application of neuromarketing.
High-quality content is key to building trust with your audience. The best indicator of your marketing success is the generation of leads that convert to sales.
Analysis of your actual customer engagement from sources such as email marketing to sign-ups, traffic to sales conversions and registration of members or users are your best guide to your marketing success.
Know Your Market
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