Imagine you’re watching a commercial for the new iPhone and you’re captivated. In the whirl of colors, dramatic lighting and electronic music, for 30 seconds you’re all in. But then the next commercial comes on and the only thought that still lingers is “what a cool phone” and nothing else. For market research, this is the dreaded moment. You’ve come up with a great concept, but your respondents can’t tell you what about it resonated. Was is the colors, the feature close-ups, the music? What did they feel? What can we do better? Or will you just be left with “it was just a cool commercial”?

Market research has always been plagued with the constraints of self-reporting. Even the most self- aware among us struggle to adequately talk about their feelings in real time. But market research is about to be revolutionized. Now, thanks to a new field of neuroscience marketing, we have the ability to dive deeper into real-time reactions, scientifically track emotions, and accurately optimize ad materials based on subconscious responses.

Neuromarketing:

Neuroscience marketing, also known as neuromarketing, combines electric signals off the skin, biometrics, eye tracking, and facial coding to capture reactions to materials in real time. Each technique on its own is only slightly helpful, but when combined, create a holistic picture of how someone responds. We can now quantitatively gauge attention, sentiment, and emotions. By measuring how close someone sits to the screen, their eye movements, and their facial expressions, we now have a more complete view than ever before.

Let’s look at an example how this works. A participate is shown two videos. The first video is in the point-of-view of a woman walking along the edge of a tall building’s roof. Instinctually, we lean back away from the screen as we watch, our eyes widen, eyebrows raise, and heart rate increases. From the eye tracking, we know the focal point on the video, her anticipated steps. This is a drastic example that would show large spikes of anxiety and fear based on our instinctual reactions, but we can now measure how “scary” the experience was. Now let’s imagine tracking an opposite emotion: happiness. The second video is of a baby laughing while it plays with a toy. Our eyes naturally move between the baby’s face and the toy it’s playing with. We lean forward and smile. We are intrigued by the adorable video and the sensors measure the degree. By using the heart rate monitor, tracking eye movement, measuring the distance from the screen, and coding facial expressions all in combination, we can gain strong insights into the most powerful aspects of our material. We can use these insights to optimize our material, whether that be packaging to a full-length commercial.  (https://imotions.com/neuromarketing/)

The psychology behind the technology:

Maybe you’re still thinking “this is interesting and all, but why is neuromarketing even necessary? You could have told me babies were cute and heights were scary.”  But what about the subtler instances? Is a blue package more engaging than a red one? We’d like to think that we as buyers are rational and straightforward, and therefore our buying decisions are something we could, in theory, self-report. But all it takes is a trip down the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store to realize, we can’t possibly rationally think through all the possible options presented to us. Flavor, brand, features, color of the box… Most of the time, we just go with our gut. Psychology backs this up. Today, according to many psychological theories, 90% of our buying decisions are made subconsciously. 90%. This means that while you probably couldn’t articulate why a blue toothpaste box is better than red, your brain knows that it is, and neuromarketing can start to dig into this. We haven’t tapped into 90% of the reason “why.” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/90-percent-all-our-purchasing-decisions-made-london)

So now?

So we should all start doing neuromarketing tomorrow right? I don’t think so. As groundbreaking and shiny as the technology is, I’ll talk about why it’s more sparkle than realistic for 2018 in our next blog piece as part of Vivisum’s 2018 innovation blog series.

Jane Hardy

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