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Demystifying Neuro-Marketing

Customers today are exposed to so many advertising stimuli that it has become a Herculean task to continuously notice them all. This has caused a considerable brainstorming in the direction of advertising effectiveness. And the outcome is a gasping concept called Neuro-marketing which has taken the world for a ride for almost a decade.

Neuro-marketing is an amalgamation of neuroscience and marketing by using brain imaging, scanning or other brain activity measurement simply to understand why we prefer some products over the other. The key idea behind this marketing strategy is to understand and establish a relationship between the subconscious decisions taken by a customer’s brain and its consecutive effect on the company’s marketing, price placement and promotional activities to be launched.

So, to relate this to companies let us understand how they apply it. Frito-Lay with the help of neuro-marketing uncovered the unusual phenomenon that shiny packets with pictures of chips triggered a negative response while matte packets with potatoes on it relayed a positive one. In a months-time new bags were designed and shiny ones were scrapped. Automobile giant, Hyundai utilized neuro-marketing to examine their car prototype.

Ever wondered why people love artificially coloured snack food or why reading this blog will be such a humongous task if I did not put some pictures to keep you hanging on?

Here are some basic yet costly methods of performing a neuro-marketing test to demystify the brain responses:

1. EEG (electroencephalography)- by attaching electrodes to subjects’ heads and evaluating the electrical patterns of their brain waves, researchers can track the intensity of responses such as anger, lust, disgust, and excitement.

2. MRI- Magnetic Resonance Imaging is used to get the details of a subject’s brain using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.

These two uses a process called priming in which an electrochemical reaction set off whenever a topic is first introduced and even before the conscious mind becomes aware of a stimulus, the subconscious mind has already begun to process it to respond in a single second. After this, a new information is fed to the brain only to compare it with the older one and record the conscious opinions about the product. Once the data collection is complete and a report has been generated, the marketing team will further develop or adjust the campaign so as to magnify customer engagement.

3. Eye tracking- It is done by using glasses with integrated cameras or a remote eye tracker attached to a screen and the data can help to track how consumers extract and accumulate information from the ad as well as determine how colour, shape, size, and placement of Ad elements affect accuracy and latency of Ad’s memorability.

4. Facial Coding- Software companies such as Affectiva or Emotient, allow to identify and track emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise from the beginning to the end of a commercial and enables to bridge the gap between attention to ad and purchase decisions by identifying the elements which hinder the development of the desired result of an ad, and therefore allows to predict the advertising effectiveness with higher accuracy.

There are certain subtle ways to enhance sales, for example, it was found that music with a powerful bass makes people subconsciously be attracted to dark coloured objects while sounds with high frequencies divert the attention to light objects. Researchers also say that the most persuasive way is to use gain frame sentences like: “get the new edition now”, to pose a scarcity in Ads showing a limited edition of a particular product and customers are automatically pulled towards it since they don’t want to miss out a chance. Have you ever thought that just by stating your preference regarding movies on the basis of a trailer can predict the success of a movie at the box office?

Humans, in general, are rarely able to evaluate the value of something based on its innate utility. Instead, they compare it with the surrounding options. Let us take the example of two equally priced hotel rooms but one offers free coffee while the other does not. Studies say that we are more likely to choose the hotel with free coffee without comparing the quality of the rooms.

We are all aware that pricing something at $9.99 instead of $10 is an advertising tactic but rounded figures are more likely to influence emotional decision making while complex numbers make the brain work harder convincing it that the complexly priced product is the more logical decision, because, sometimes it is all about setting the right price.

Although, many methods of traditional marketing have been deployed just to hit the right ‘buying buttons’ of the brain, the footprints that neuro-marketing has left is an undeniable fact. In spite of scepticism, there are many success stories of this insignia to make it a still sought-after technique. And, it will continue to be so, as it connects to the subconscious mind, driving the consumer to the buying process unless a better marketing technique comes which can grab eyeballs for a longer period of time.

-Shraddha Mishra (Marketing and finance)

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