Essay: Neuromarketing

Executive Summary
Marketers always consider consumer’s thought and response in marketing. In order to understand consumers better, several methods have been developed for marketing. For example, they invite consumers to fill in surveys, they ask consumers to complete questionnaire which ensures that consumers can express their feelings to their products or services. Although those methods provide some useful customer information, there are several obvious shortcomings in the traditional marketing methods. In the workshop, we focus on two shortcomings of the traditional methods. To call attention for the workshop, and to introduce the topic, we will start the workshop with the ‘welcome drink’ example. For this example, we hand out all attendants a little drink to welcome them. The purpose of this drink is to introduce the two shortcomings of traditional methods through this simplified imitated situation. The first shortcoming is that the customers will not express their real feelings in some cases. It is indeed could be the case in traditional collection methods (survey, interview etc.). For example, they will tend to give an answer that fit in the marketer’s expectation when they take the politeness into consideration. As a result, the false collected data will lead to a bias on the analysis of consumers’ behaviour. The game indeed showed that the attendants of the class al politely answered that they liked the drink. The second faced problem for marketers is that consumers cannot indicate their ideas and opinions to the good or advertisement precisely. It is because they do not exactly have an idea to a product, or they do not have the capacity to describe their feelings and opinions in a proper way. In this case, it is a hard task for researchers to understand the real demand of customers.
The appeared problems lead to a massive loss of marketing. In this case, what could be the solution for these shortcomings? In other words, what can be a better method we can understand consumers more precisely? Neuromarketing is one of the methods which is introduced to solve these problems.
Neuromarketing explained
‘Neuromarketing is a study of how people’s brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages.'(Margaret, 2009) According to the neuromarketing, it believes that the brain-based information is credible because brain is the mediator of human behaviour and neuromarketing is around a view that consumers choose which products and brands are almost subconscious(Murphy, 2008). The regular way to collect the information is to monitor tester’s brain wave, eye-tracking and the skin respond in order to find out the reliable information from the brain(Margaret, 2009). Thus, using neuromarketing can determine the driving force behind consumer choice and marketers can use this brain-based information as a new advertising campaign and branding foundation. Neuromarketing, in this case, which compared to the traditional methods, can be introduced as a more proper way to collect information efficiently.
We’d like to approach the topic of neuromarketing in light of some new discoveries on the human brain. Some of these learnings can help us understand the variables that determine decision-making processes. The insights provided by new research findings stem from the way our brains our organized. In addition to our brain being divided into the right and left brain, our brain is also divided into three layers, namely the ‘new brain’, the ‘middle brain’, and the ‘old brain’ (also referred to as the reptilian brain). These layers act like separate organs and have different functions and cell structures(Anders et al. 2004). When making decisions however, they act jointly. Now let’s get into what these different layers actually are and what they do. The new brain refers to the neo-cortex. The neo-cortex is responsible for the rational thinking part of decision-making. It receives messages, interprets them and shares its deductions with the other layers of the brain, the next one in line being the middle brain. The middle brain assesses the message received, using emotion and gut feelings. ‘How do you feel about the message you’re receiving’? This is again being shared with the other layers. The way you feel about an issue has some weight in your decision-making process, but it doesn’t provide the ultimate verdict. The layer of the brain that is the real decision-maker is the reptilian brain (the brain stem and cerebellum). It’s called the reptilian brain because it’s the part of our brain which we share in common with all vertebrates from reptiles to mammals. It acts not in a rational or emotional way, but in an instinctual one. The reptilian brain uses the information of the middle and new brain as inputs and then decides what to do. What the reptilian brain cares most about are, among other things, reproduction and self-preservation. As this layer of the brain is the ultimate decision-maker, one might want to learn a thing or two about how to communicate with this part of the brain. As it turns out, this needs a vastly different way of communication than is recently used these days.
Four-step plan
In order to target the reptilian brain a four-step plan has been designed(Salesbrain, 2015). This step starts with the diagnosis of the pain. The pain in this case refers to the problem a consumer is dealing with, whether it’d be conscious or unconscious (the first one is preferred as it provides a drive for the consumer to actively look for your solution). It is crucial to be able to specifically identify the consumer’s pain in order to gain immediate attention. When the consumer is reviewing your service or product it should immediately be clear what pain you are going to cure and how you are going to cure it. Under the ‘stress’ of the decision-making process the old brain searches for immediate pain relief and this is how you can address that. When presenting your market offering to the consumer you can portray a scenario in which the worst consequences of not eliminating the pain are showcased. The second step in our plan is the differentiation of your claims. Give contrast to your claim and how it is superior to other existing claims. If it is unclear for the consumer what is so unique about your product or service you might as well be selling for your competition since it is unclear to the consumer why he should prefer your claim above other claims. Highlight the uniqueness of your claim, and by removing confusion you’ll speed up the decision-making process. Describe which unique feature of your service or product offers the elimination of the pain and describe the resulting benefit as experienced directly by the consumer. The third step in our plan addresses how to demonstrate your claim efficiently. If you are selling a product of which the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, it would be foolish for consumers not to buy your product. However it is not that simple. The old brain is sceptical and needs concrete evidence before it actually commits to a decision: Prove, rather than talk about your value. Such proof can be delivered in the form of for example, stories, prototypes, and even the implementation of your vision into the target audience. In this step it’s important to acknowledge how the reptilian brain prefers easy to process and tangible information. Lastly, we arrive at step four of our plan. This is where things get interesting: how can you deliver a message with maximum impact. Even the most solid and logic message, one that is beneficial to your customer, still does not necessarily trigger a ‘buy’ decision unless the old brain can quickly and most important effortlessly understand it. Next we’ll list for you some message blocks that will show you how to do this. Firstly, you’ll start off with a grabber: a short story, a word play or rhetorical question to capture the attention of the audience. Secondly, you can spell out clearly a few compelling reasons for your prospects to buy your offering. Make this as clear and easily-deductible as possible. Thirdly, show your prospect the bigger picture: how is your solution going to positively impact your customer’s life. Try to make this personal! Next, give proofs of your claims, perhaps in the form of success stories. Consumers find these easy to interpret. Demonstrate gains in a financial, strategic, and/or personal form. Lastly, go in for the close. Repeat your claims one more time, this will make for a memorable takeaway. Also, make sure to involve your audience by addressing them personally: ‘What do you think’? or ‘Where do we go from here’? are both good examples of things you can ask an audience to activate them.
Now as it turns out, these steps are most effective if presented to the audience, perhaps as if they were children. Involve the audience on a personal and emotional level. Make credible claims, and make them easy to understand. Clearly spell out the problem that your customers are dealing with and also your solution to it. Following our advice, you’ll find that your messages will come across more easily and ultimately this will help you achieve those high marketing goals that you’ve set for yourself. Because difficult techniques are needed for most other neuromarketing methods, we will use this approach for our workshop. We will shortly describe the other techniques(for example fMRI scans), with the help of the articles of which are summarized in the appendix. In the workshop we will therefore explain this four step approach to the class, and afterwards we will let them apply it to a case.
Applied neuromarketing
Now the only question remaining is how businesses can benefit from this type of marketing. As became clear from our previous analysis, but also from the summaries in the appendix, neuromarketing can provide more detailed information to marketers than current methods can. However for some results marketers don’t know how much they can be applied to larger populations, and techniques are not far enough to predict consumer behaviour on products which do not yet exist. Furthermore, as becomes apparent in one of the articles, neuromarketing is not yet able to deal with the placebo phenomenon. However, all articles are concluding that they expect, or at least hope that neuromarketing will develop and will solve all these problems. If this becomes true, the possibilities for businesses will be huge.
At this moment, marketers are able to match the brain activities to products which are already existing. In this way they can analyse which brain regions are related to positive reactions on for example television advertisement. If the improvements of the neuromarketing are realized, more befits become available: businesses will be able to predict how consumers will react on products that they might want to develop. In this case, high development costs can be avoided by testing consumers reactions on beforehand. Furthermore, companies can study brand perceptions better. Earlier tests have already been done on this topic and they showed that similar products from different brands are perceived differently by consumers(Ariely & Berns, 2010). Neuromarketing might reveal the secret of brand loyalty/perception in the future!
For companies in the food and beverage sector, neuromarketing already has proven to be valuable. With the help of a MRI scanner, the brain responses to different all the dimensions of the food have been mapped. Different parts of the brain react to taste, aroma, texture, the looks and even the sound. In this way, they can see the responses if marketers want to change one of these variables of their product(Ariely & Berns, 2010). The drawback of this is that it has become an ethical issue: people are worried that food is optimized so far, that obese will become an even bigger problem.
The film industry is another industry which can already benefit from neuromarketing: tests have been done where the participant had to watch a whole movie while being in a fMRI scan. This revealed the brain activity of the test person and it showed where he was the most, and the least engaged with the movie(Ariely & Berns, 2010). By doing such tests right after a scene have been filmed, a producer can decide to film that scene again and to adjust it a bit. If the film industry will apply this more, movies can be perfected even further than they are now.
Another existing application in which businesses can benefit from neuroscience, is architectural experience. With the help of a virtual reality and an MRI scanner, scientists were able to link neural activity with seeing specific aspects of buildings. Next to this, they also guided the architectural design process with the help of neural responses(Ariely & Berns, 2010). So with the help of neural responses, businesses could design their buildings more inviting, commercial or casual. Furthermore, they can let this process help consumers to feel more comfortable, more safe or more invited when being in their building.
Political parties are also able to benefit from neuroscience on a large scale. It might be that not everybody considers political parties to be businesses, but since a political party is all about a marketing campaign before an election, we would like to address this topic. After several studies, scientist were able to see a pattern in neural activity in response to political advertisement. They found that the activation of a certain part of the brain is associated with switching to another candidate, and when another part of the brain is activated, the person is more likely to stay with the candidate he had in mind before(Ariely & Berns, 2010).
Product-perfection machine
Altogether, neuromarketing is needed to address problems which rise when older marketing methods are used. Within the neuromarketing , there are many different approaches, the one focussing on eye-movement, the other focussing on neural activity with the help of MRI scans an again another which focusses only on the addressing of specific parts of the brain. With a four-step approach, we have let the attendants apply neuromarketing themselves. We have emphasized a small part of the existing applications of neuromarketing which can be useful for businesses nowadays. Furthermore, the literature shows us that there is potential for neuromarketing to be developed to a product-perfection machine which reveals (unintentionally) hidden consumer information.

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