Beyond marketing: to Neuromarketing and beyond

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Consumer responses are important in all their nuances. But how to assess the impact of marketing actions considering the precious elements that determine people’s choices? You can do it by going beyond marketing? Yes, and the answer lies in neuromarketing.

In a previous article we have you listed 5 reasons to integrate neuromarketing with marketing, and today we talk to you more in detail about path of evolution in research dedicated to consumers, which resulted in the need for a neuromarketing approach.

Traditional marketing research, as is known, is based on the rationality of individuals and on the processes that they are able to understand, analyze and express verbally. Interviews, focus groups, brainstorming and quantitative questionnaires are not enough to understand the dynamics that determine the impact of a communication, be it an advertisement or the packaging of a product. It is therefore necessary to introduce new methodologies for evaluate the world of implicit emotions and processes.

Marketing is based on the rationality of individuals. But the implicit processes? #Neuromarketing

The initial diffusion of neuromarketing

At the beginning of the millennium, neuromarketing has gained popularity thanks to the contribution of Read Montague (McClure and Montague, 2004), who conducted a series of experiments that compared consumer responses to two major brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, using neuroscientific technologies to study brain activity in order to compare consumer preferences and responses regarding the two brands. To learn more, we refer to the article on neuromarketing and brand engagement where we told the case.

Coca-Cola o Pepsi?

From that moment on, there has been a great increase in the applications of biometric techniques for marketing purposes, fueled by the interest of companies regarding the potential of these methodologies to assess the impact of their actions, and fomented by the pioneer agencies in the sector, which promoted research with increasingly reliable and usable instruments.

The first experiment of #neuromarketing: the perception of Coca-Cola and Pepsi

This diffusion is linked to several factors, which have been investigated in an article dedicated to transition from traditional marketing research to neuromarketing. In summary, these are the following:

  1. Development of progress in the field of neuroscience and psychology
  2. Technological progress of the instruments used
  3. Interest in measuring implicit and emotional responses to marketing messages
  4. Request for feedback on marketing actions to measure their effectiveness
  5. Proven successes of various neuromarketing applications.

In the last ten years, the use of has rapidly developed at advertising companies and agencies biometric and neurological methodologies (Source: ARF, 2011).

Why go Beyond traditional marketing research

The traditional methods of research are not totally up to the point of grasping what consumers really feel and think, above all because the choices and behaviors of individuals are strongly influenced by the implicit processes, fast, emotional, and automatic, of their minds, full of cultural prejudices rooted in education, tradition and in heuristics.

Many companies continue to rely completely on classic strategies and techniques:

  • quantitative research, which requires a statistically significant number of subjects to be interviewed about a product or creative idea
  • qualitative research, including interviews and focus groups, focused on deepening in carefully selected small groups, of some aspects of the experience with the product or brand.


The main limit is that it exists an objective impossibility on the part of the subjects to understand what happens directly in their mind. The difficulties encountered:

  • difficulty on the part of the subjects both to motivate the choice between more alternatives, and to comment and report the emotions felt during the vision of advertising.The verbal response of an individual will therefore represent a vague summary of mental experience, conditioned by the filter of rationalization in the aftermath.
  • difficulty in determining the reliability of the verbal response of the subjects, as the participants influence each other (in the focusgroups) and tend to provide answers that align with social desirability, or to please the interviewers and to position themselves in a favorable light.
  • long times and high investment of work.Every year hundreds of thousands of focus groups are used all over the world, with a global expenditure of around 4.5 billion of dollars in qualitative market research (Lindstrom, 2009).

Marketing research does not allow us to understand what happens in the minds of the subjects.
These factors intrinsic to the qualitative investigations of the interviews and focus groups thus represent an open challenge for Marketing and affect the effectiveness and usefulness of the information obtained through these traditional techniques.

The added value of neuromarketing

Thus, neuromaketing practices do not consider individuals’ feedback or verbal responses, but simply study and analyze them automatic replies of subjects, neuronal and physiological, in the moment of interaction with the stimulus, therefore leaving aside the filters of rationality and social desirability, without the obligation to ask the right questions and elaborate questionnaires of doubtful reliability.

For this it is more useful to measure the more “intimate” reactions of consumers during practical interaction with the product or creativity, and assessing what is found in the subject’s brain, explicable processes and, above all, implicit processes.Obviously these surveys are also accompanied, before and after the measurements, by questions and short interviews that serve as a tool to compare what customers say and what they “feel” in their mind.

The added value of #neuromarketing: measuring the most “intimate” reactions of consumers.

Also the measurements and data collected with the techniques of neuromarketing must be interpreted by experts in neuroscience and marketing, and require time and effort because it is precisely in the interpretation of the interaction that the complexity of this discipline lies.

Regarding the selection of the sample of test users, studies show that they are sufficient very small sample sizes compared to traditional techniques, with a considerable saving of time and costs.

Towards a useful integration between marketing and neuromarketing for more effective actions

The initial phases of the creative process, be it product design, packaging, video, site, are crucial and effectively applying neuromarketing approaches in these phases can make a significant difference, allowing to identify opportunities and/or weaknesses in key moments of meeting between brands and consumers.

In conclusion, therefore: the neurological marketing research based on the biometric response surveys has enormous potential in providing new important insights for the evaluation of commercials and other stimuli of various kinds. The strength of neuromarketing is the ability to reveal implicit emotional reactions better than any other method currently available in scientific knowledge.


·    McClure , S., Montague M., (2004), Neural Correlates of Behavioral Preference for Culturally Familiar Drinks , Neuron , Vol. 44, 379–387, October 14, 2004 , available in full version here

·    Lindstrom M., 2009, Neuromarketing,   Apogee

·    The Advertising Research Foundation ( ARF )

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18 July 2016 Simona Carniato

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