Thanks to advancements in neurotechnology in recent years, neuroscience’s application in marketing has exploded. This explosion is due to the accessibility of portable EEG (electroencephalography) headsets, making it possible for market researchers to gain insights into the human brain and human behavior that were previously impossible.
Portable EEG headsets are far less expensive and easier to use than traditional brain imaging devices, making them widely accessible to marketing teams. Traditional market research relies on questionnaires and focus groups to unpack and anticipate consumers’ decision-making processes. However, these approaches can often provide inaccurate results. Neuromarketing uses EEG data from the human brain to understand user interaction in real-time.
But, what exactly is neuromarketing, and how is it being utilized by commercial marketers? In the post we explore the application of neuroscience in market research and how EMOTIV’s EEG technology is leading the way in helping marketers truly understand their audience’s preferences.
What is Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing (also known as consumer neuroscience) is the application of neuroscience and cognitive science to marketing. It involves presenting focus groups or members of your target market with stimuli (often relating to purchasing decisions, pricing or product development) while they wear an EEG headset. Sensors on the EEG headset detect electrical activity from the brain.
Neuromarketing captures consumers’ unspoken cognitive and emotional responses to stimuli and can help predict consumers’ purchase decisions. These responses offer insights into whether a consumer likes or dislikes some aspect of your product, helping marketers determine which marketing approaches are more likely to solicit a customer’s approach or withdrawal.
How is Neuromarketing Being Used?
While EEG is historically associated with helping to diagnose brain illnesses, like seizures or traumatic brain injuries, EEG is becoming recognized as an invaluable tool for consumer research.
One of the ways neuromarketing is being used is in video advertising research. In their review, Technological advancements and opportunities in Neuromarketing: a systematic review, Ferdousi Sabera Rawnaque et al. found that for video advertisement-based neuromarketing research, EEG devices are some of the most favored by researchers. According to the authors, this is mainly due to the low cost and high time resolution of portable EEG headsets—with EEG indexing cognitive processes on the order of milliseconds. This precision allows marketers to understand how consumers are responding to specific aspects of an advertising campaign.
Neuromarketing Helps Improve Marketing Campaigns
Neuromarketing allows researchers to observe both the conscious and deeper-level subconscious cognitive processes. Traditional market research relies entirely on consumers’ conscious decision-making processes and self-reporting using questionnaires. This method calls into question data reliability because consumers’ are known to give biased and inaccurate answers or answers that don’t fully reflect how they feel. However, with the addition of EEG, neuromarketers can get a more comprehensive picture of how a person feels about a product.
Studies will often gauge consumer responses by allowing participants to experience a product physically (while recording EEG signals) or by asking research participants to visualize a product or service (also while recording EEG signals). By asking participants questions about pricing, interest, or experience, marketers better understand how a product, service, or marketing campaign will likely be received.
One example of neuromarketing’s utility is Pozharliev et al. study of emotional responses to visualizing luxury brand products vs. regular brand products. The experiment displayed 60 luxury items and 60 basic brand items to 40 female undergraduate students to recognize the brain response of seeing high emotional value (luxury) products in social vs. alone atmosphere. The researchers found that there was a far higher reading of emotional value in response to the luxury good in a social atmosphere.
While self-reporting might be prone to self-consciousness amongst research participants, neural impulses are immune to this. Even in situations when social pressure puts the reality of how people feel at odds with how they think they should feel.
Organizations can develop more effective marketing campaigns by using neuromarketing techniques to receive more accurate, nuanced reactions. By tracking neural responses, marketers can now record and begin deciphering deeper elements of the decision-making process.
What Evidence Do We Have that Neuromarketing Works?
When neuromarketing emerged, the marketing world was skeptical about it. What precise advancements in neuroscience research made marketers embrace EEG?
Interest in neuromarketing took off nearly two decades ago when business school researchers began measuring brain data as a dependent variable in the context of advertising and realized that marketing tactics have measurable impacts on the brain.
One of these early studies involved consumer responses to Coca-Cola and Pepsi. When participants were not told the brand in advance, their brain scans appeared consistent. But once the researchers revealed the brands to the participants, heightened brain activity proved that neural networks can be used to measure the impact of brand perception and familiarity on a consumer’s experience with the product.
In those early days, marketers in the field weren’t so impressed because those early insights mostly revealed what they already knew. But now, our understanding of neuroscience has evolved, and so have our abilities to make use of the astounding amount of data in real-time using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data capabilities.
Today, companies routinely leverage hardware and software developments in brain imaging technology. For example, IKEA used EEG headsets to better understand how their customers reacted to new business models. Similarly, PepsiCo used neuromarketing to determine that Lays potato chips would sell better with females if they were marketed as “guilt-free”.
Here at EMOTIV, we partnered with marketing firm Aki to remotely collect brain data from volunteers while they watched the Super Bowl to identify whether impactful plays led to increased consumer receptivity. Similarly, we developed a custom algorithm in partnership with L’Oréal that uses brain responses to scents to predict which YSL fragrances a customer is likely to want to purchase.
Categorize Complex Emotional Responses
Another advantage of neuromarketing is that researchers can decipher and categorize more complex emotional responses. Meaning they can properly distinguish dynamic mixes of cognitive neurophysiological indices (happiness, surprise, attention, etc.) and behavioral indices (memory rate, preference, etc.), thanks to advancements in the AI algorithms used to process brain data.
There are still challenges to be overcome in neuromarketing, even in this “preliminary phase”. However, there is no question that neuromarketing can help companies maintain their competitive edge and keep up with the growing competition.
How Can Neuromarketers Use EMOTIV’s EEG Technology to Better Understand Their Products and Markets?
One critical barrier to entry for aspiring neuro marketers is that while companies may see the value of neuromarketing research, they have no idea how to begin integrating neuroscience within their marketing departments. It’s easy to assume that one must either “go big or go home” when it comes to neuromarketing.
In this respect, EMOTIV has proven itself incredibly transformative by making it possible to collect remote, scaleable EEG data by offering portable, effective, and low-cost EEG technology. Additionally, we’ve created an ecosystem of analysis platforms that enable cloud-based computing of brain data in real-time.
EMOTIV Research as a Service
For companies who are unsure how best to capitalize on the power of neuroscience, the EMOTIV Research as a Service team can be engaged to consult.
Through consultations with our Research as a Service team, our clients receive carefully tailored recommendations and assistance in identifying critical research elements, such as:
- key research questions,
- experiment design,
- subject recruitment,
- brain data collection and processing, and
- final analysis and customized report findings.
The Mentimeter Effect: real-world EEG using EMOTIVLabs
The “Mentimeter Effect” is an example of a company utilizing EMOTIV Research as a Service to better understand their product and user experiences.
Mentimeter, a multimedia presentation software platform, approached us, asking our neuromarketing professionals to measure the degree of engagement from their software. Specifically, they wanted to know if there was a difference between how consumers engaged with their software versus the software of their top competitor – Microsoft Powerpoint.
The EMOTIV Research as a Service team collaborated with Mentimeter and developed a series of key research questions around what Mentimeter viewed as its “special sauce.” With our assistance, study participants were recruited from over 15 countries and carefully selected to provide a diverse demographic with respect to age, education level, occupation and other areas of relevance to the study.
Our findings revealed that Mentimeter’s software demonstrated statistically significant improvements in reducing boredom while heightening engagement, attention, and cognitive load. By performing research analysis that quantified the benefits of their software, Mentimeter developed more compelling marketing communications, allowing them to better compete with the brand visibility of a highly established company like Microsoft.
Why use EMOTIV for processing consumer EEG data and understanding it?
EMOTIV’s advanced suite of neuroscience applications allows users to make sense of EEG data through integrated, highly-advanced machine learning and deep learning algorithms. Our most popular applications for research are EmotivPRO and EMOTIV LABS.
EmotivPRO is optimized for ease of use. Its graphical interface is highly intuitive, allowing users to build EEG experiments, as well as process and analyze the data collected.
EMOTIV LABS allows users to easily publish research experiments designed in EmotivPRO and collect brain data remotely and at scale. EMOTIV Labs has a contributor pool spanning over 80 countries, allowing companies and researchers access to crowd-sourced subject participation.
EMOTIV is transforming neuromarketing research with portable EEG technology, neuroscience applications, and research as a service.
To learn more about how EMOTIV’s EEG technology can help you better understand your consumer’s preferences visit our website or book a demonstration with us today.