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Neuromarketing- The elusive ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ of the product or service you buy.

Do you remember the day when you were awaiting the release of your favourite mobile phone? That pleasant dopamine surge that hits you right after you get your hands on the product? That adrenaline rush of an impulse buy that later morphs into regret? The naive excitement dies a few days down the road, but do you ever think about what exactly made you go for this particular ‘Brand’ and ‘Model’ of smartphone?

Probably not! Research has shown that most of the decisions that consumers make are rather subconscious. But still, most companies resort to traditional methodology like focus groups, interviews and surveys that aim at conscious responses‌, for consumer and market research. In order to guess the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of customer decisions using these traditional methods, companies still need to grapple with a lot of uncertainty, inaccuracy and conjecture. Instead, businesses can be better focused on customers if they use emotional, cognitive and behavioral data to predict customer decisions. This is where ‘Neuromarketing’ comes in to save the day. Neuromarketing is defined as the laboratory study of how the brain responds to varied stimuli from the advertisers. This data can be used to build better customer experience(CX) models, by predicting responses and literally ‘getting into the customers’ heads’. In fact much of human behaviour and decision making processes are subconscious.

The challenge here is to understand and predict customer responses for effective marketing techniques. Neuromarketing uses data from neuroscience research, psychology and economics to gauge and improvise the effectiveness of design, advertising and branding practices. The insights gained from these responses can be applied to different departments of the corporation to achieve better communication, alignment, employee and customer experience. As research widens and more technologies are being tested at their beta stage, more corporations and marketers are seeing the enormous potential of Neuromarketing technology.

So, we start to wonder- What kind of technology is involved in Neuromarketing research? It involves the use of brain-wave detecting technologies like fMRI, EEG in addition to Eye-tracking, Facial Expression coding and Biometrics to drill for unconscious and emotional information that is hard even for the customer to consciously discern and transcribe. In fact, engaging with emotional and cognitive triggers, as opposed to rational cues, has existed for a longer time in human evolutionary history. NM just goes a step further and maps these emotional snap reactions, environmental cues and unconscious deliberation to better understand the consumer decision-making processes. This can in turn lead to increased customer loyalty and trust, reduced costs, improved sales, more efficient advertising, targeted marketing, improved user experience and more emotional brand associations. Connecting with your customers more emotionally and in-depth can lead to ‘brand-bonding’ for life and close the ever widening ‘experience gap’.

One exciting application of Neuromarketing is the idea of ‘Nanomarketing’. It involves the use of increasingly complex, wireless tools in small, non-intrusive, wearable devices to measure emotional arousal, stress and a bunch of physiological triggers. This data can be applied for a number of purposes like measuring emotional states in real-time, multifunctional measurement of physical, biological and neurological stimuli and mapping them to consumer behavior. In addition, basic marketing tenets like intention to purchase, attitudinal data and advertising satisfaction could be better explored through this research. This can lead to improved ability to test ad effectiveness, selecting an optimised media catalog and gauge product appeal.

However, potential neurotech users should be wary of participating in research studies to avoid potential ‘Neural Manipulation’. They should check the validity of the study, before agreeing to be tested. That’s why the most important tool to be discussed is the drafting of a ‘Neuromarketing Ethical Framework’. This can help defend privacy, shield autonomy, understand compulsive buying habits, protect consumers from damaging behaviours, manipulation of behavior for nefarious intents and misappropriation of data.

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