Neuromarketing: A blessing or brainwashing?
Can a brand advertising quality substantially improve its perception of quality in tracking research without a corresponding increase in ad awareness? For those in the field of neuromarketing, the answer is a resounding yes. Neuromarketing research has shown that ads, for example, can enter the subconscious mind without any recall at the conscious level. Additionally, some neuroscience tecniques claim to measure if an ad is being stored in our long-term memory or not.
Neuromarketing is a growing field in marketing research, especially for advertising and packaging studies. The foundational theory is that for any decision we make, 85% stems from our subconscious and only 15% from our conscious level. Generally speaking, our emotions live in our subconscious mind and are protected and rationalized at the conscious level.
The implication for traditional marketing research is not good. Think of a focus group where respondents have plenty of time to rationalize their answers. Are we capturing only 15% of the real story? Think about a business committee judging advertising concepts (typically at the rational/conscious-level) and it gets scarier yet.
But how do we get inside the 85%? Leave it to technology – mostly very expensive technology. Early pioneers like Buyology, Inc. used an fMRI to measure the brain’s response to brands and advertisements. Depending on where brain activity occurred, they could “measure” the likeability of an ad, whether it was easy to follow or frustrating, and whether or not it triggered an emotional response.
fMRI machines are not very portable, so popular among today’s neuromarketers is a wireless EEG. Now the respondent can actually move about and look at packaging in a real store where brain activity is measured. This technology has shown that a package seen in a store can leave a memorable subconscious impression without the respondent recalling ever seeing the package.
Neither of these techniques works very well for phone or online research, so there is another totally different approach called Latency Response.
It’s all about whether or not you have to think about your answer to a question. If you can answer in a micro-second, it’s coming from your subconscious. If your answer takes a second or two, you are operating at your rational, conscious level. Response time can be measured over the phone and online.
The link to follow will take you to a real life example of the Latency Response technique. Give it a try if you are brave enough to know how you really feel about sexuality, religion, race and other fun topics at your subconscious level. Visit: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/. (Note that the site warns that if you are unprepared to encounter interpretation that you might find objectionable, please do not respond to the questionnaire.)
Neuromarketing has raised more questions about ethics than efficacy. When ads directed to children reflect findings from neuromarketing techniques, have we raised the level of advertising or have we raised the level of brainwashing? When these techniques can uncover personal identification numbers (brain-hacking), have we gone too far? Is it criminal to apply these techniques through our computer or television screens looking back at us (facial coding) without our knowledge?
These issues will accompany neuromarketing as it evolves and becomes more main stream. For now, results are new and fresh when it comes to ads and brands and further supports argument to engage emotions through advertising.
In the spirit of the political season and through the courtesy of Buyology, Inc., here is where our two parties stand at the subconscious level for some well-known brands.
Both parties do agree, at the subconscious level, that their favorite beverage is Coca-Cola and their favorite technology is Apple. I am sure however, that they could find a way to debate these preferences at the conscious level if given the chance.