Humans are not thinking machines that feel; we are sentimental machines that think . This statement by the Portuguese neurologist António Damásio illustrates very well our way of choosing any option.

The fact is that our choices are not entirely rational, as they are mostly taken by the part of our older brain, the so-called reptilian brain. This takes care of the primary life functions and survival instincts, and was developed by our ancestors millions of years ago so it is preverbal. That is, it doesn’t understand complex messages so it prefers images to words.

We think that we are rational beings, that we make the best decisions economically speaking. Nothing could be further from the truth, due to the emotional bias to which our decisions are subject and which also extends to the field of purchasing. Therefore, any slight difference in a product or service (and in the way to sell it) will make our reptilian brain, and therefore us, incline to a certain option.

With such a saturated market for products and services, it is estimated that 80% of new products fail in their first three years of life. Having a perfect marketing mix is key to success. But this doesn’t guarantee 100% success, which leads marketing experts who fail to understand the real reasons for the fiasco.

To try to understand consumer decision-making, researchers have used different market research techniques such as group dynamics, surveys or interviews for decades. However, these methods have proved to be rather limited in predicting the success of any campaign, mainly because we now know that decisions have subconscious processes that cannot be detected in this type of study. Because to know what consumers want, it is not necessary to know what they say, but what they feel, and in this task neuromarketing has begun to play a fundamental role .

The role of Neuromarketing in consumer behaviour

One proof that we are not rational beings is the neuromarketing experiment conducted by the California Tech Institute. In it, wine from 5 different bottles was given to different people, but there were two pairs of bottles with the same wine, that is, three different types of wine. However, the bottles with the same wine were labeled one with a lower price and another with a much higher price. Individuals had to assess the quality and were in turn connected to a brain scanner. The conclusion of the study was that the price of the wine activated more the part of the brain related to the sensation of pleasure .

This study, and others that we showed you in a previous post, show the importance of knowing the brain’s reaction to the stimuli we receive to determine if they will really appeal to the emotions of the potential consumer. For this, neuromarketing, which has been defined by Lee et. Al (2007) as the application of neuroscience methods to analyze and understand human behavior in relation to markets and exchanges, has several tools.

Among the most widely used are electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It should be noted that fMRI is the tool that best maps the structures of the brain involved in emotional reactions. What this tool achieves is to detect the change in blood flow in different areas of the brain. This is interesting because the greater the blood flow, the greater the activity in that particular area.

It is becoming imperative to master this technology in order to achieve campaigns that truly segment the market and offer consumers what they really want and not what they say they want. Without a doubt, this is a very powerful tool, which when used in the right ethical and moral way, can help marketing get closer to being a more accurate science. There are already companies in Spain such as Science & Marketing that are dedicated exclusively to this activity, and we are sure that in the future more will emerge in this budding market .

Bibliographic references:

  • Calvert, G. A., & Brammer, M. J. (2012). Predicting consumer behavior: using novel mind-reading approaches. Pulse, IEEE, 3(3), 38-41.
  • Dapkevičius, A., & Melnikas, B. (2011). Influence of price and quality to customer satisfaction: neuromarketing approach. Science-Future of Lithuania/Mokslas-Lietuvos Ateitis, 1(3), 17-20
  • Lee, N., Broderick, A. J., & Chamberlain, L. (2007). What is neuromarketing’? A discussion and agenda for future research. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 63(2), 199-204.
  • Morin, C. (2011). Neuromarketing: The new science of consumer behavior, editorial. Society, 131-135.
  • Roth, V. (2013). The Potential of Neuromarketing as a Marketing Tool. Bachelor Thesis Conference, June27th, Enschede, The Netherlands, pp. 1-16.