Is neuromarketing the new science of consumer behavior?


In this paper Dr. Christophe Morin, CEO of Sales Brain (neuromarketing company) discusses the promise of the burgeoning field of neuromarketing and suggests it has the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of both commercial and cause-related advertising messages around the world.

Neuromarketing is an emerging field that bridges the study of consumer behavior with neuroscience. Controversial when it first emerged in 2002, the field is gaining rapid credibility and adoption among advertising and marketing professionals. Each year, over 400 billion dollars is invested in advertising campaigns. Yet, conventional methods for testing and predicting the effectiveness of those investments have generally failed because they depend on consumers’ willingness and competency to describe how they feel when they are exposed to an advertisement. Neuromarketing offers cutting edge methods for directly probing minds without requiring demanding cognitive or conscious participation.

Indeed, there are many ways to measure physiological responses to advertising but there are only three well established noninvasive methods for measuring and mapping brain activity: electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). All three imaging techniques are non-invasive and therefore can be used safely for marketing research purposes.

Unlike both EEG and MEG, the fMRI modality is based on using an MRI scanner to image the change of blood flow in the brain. The spatial resolution of fMRI is 10 times better than EEG because it allows researchers the ability to image the activity of a voxel (Volume-Pixel), a cube of neurons (1 mm x 1 mm x 1 mm in size).

Indeed, fMRI has the major advantage of being able to image deep brain structures, especially those involved in emotional responses. fMRI scanners are also quite expensive but more widely available than MEG equipment.

"All these factors combined explain why fMRI is the most frequently used brain imaging techniques in the world today and in most likelihood will become the preferred option for neuromarketing scientists for years to come".
Dr. Christophe Morin
CEO of Sales Brain

Reference: Morin Christophe. (2011). Neuromarketing: The New Science of Consumer Behavior. Society. 48. 131-135.