Neuromarketing - A Weapon!!!!

4 MIN READ Talia Carmel  |   4 MINS READ December 9, 2020

What drives consumers and urges them to actually “add to the shopping cart”? Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman proposed an excellent theory relating to the science of the behavioral process, known as ‘fast and slow thinking’ or the dual process. He collectively named them System 1 and System 2. System 1 is the involuntary, quick thinking, fast-paced process where certain basic activities such as listening and replying and the subconscious mind dominate. System 2 is the slowed-down, conscious, and analytical thought process, the state in which reason dominates. Although these two work in tandem, according to research, almost 90% of our thoughts are controlled by System 1. How do we go about decoding the consumer mind in neuromarketing?

Let’s take a trip back to 1975 where Pepsi just appeared on the scene. They wanted to do something innovative and brilliant to market a new brand of cola in competition with the famous soft drink giant Coca-Cola. In an attempt to gauge the consumer, they promoted what was called “The Pepsi Challenge”. Customers were invited for a blind tasting session in which they were given Pepsi and Coca-Cola to taste. The results were astonishing; Pepsi was preferred over Coke by a significant margin. When the consumer was actually shown the brand, the complete opposite effect happened, they showed an affinity to Coke. What does this tell us? Well, it goes to show just how strong and effective the branding and marketing of Coca-Cola has been to embed it into our brains, (assuming that you prefer Coke over Pepsi). Something interesting to note here is that the scientists had used what is called an fMRI, a big fancy name for a machine with a hefty price tag that takes pictures of your brain and records different responses to stimuli. Research and technology have come a long way since then with newer devices being developed, such as the electroencephalogram (EEG) and eye-tracking which is used to elicit a person’s emotional response to an advertisement or product. These are all tools that brands use, in order to identify what really sparks an emotion in the consumer’s mind. Lighting up an emotional response largely influences one’s choice.

An average person is exposed to more than 4,000 ads every single day. With the influx of advertisements flooding our minds, how does a company stay on top of the market and engage their consumers? Bold fonts and vibrant colors? Or maybe, a great packaging and along with that, a catchy slogan? The answer is a bright and bold font, “YES” and that’s where neuromarketing comes in. Have you ever visited a clothing store with one item of clothing in mind and ended up walking out of the store with more than just that one item that you probably didn’t even need? How do marketers know that what we say and what we do are very different? We are byproducts of the world around us and are largely on auto-pilot mode, using our subconscious mind to make our decisions. Neuromarketers use the science of studying the parts of the brain that deal with attention, memory, and emotion along with technology such as the fMRI, EEG, eye tracking, biometric scanning, and facial coding to decipher how probable it is that a consumer would buy a product.

Interestingly enough, marketers are not only concerned about a consumer’s predilections, they also attempt to change them, a process we loosely coin as “Neural Manipulation”. Using tactics such as demographic segmentation to target a specific audience whom they know a product is most likely to consume. Researchers are currently studying the role of hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, dopamine, and oxytocin as neuromodulators and how these hormones influence consumers when they have been altered.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is also another method being used in which magnetic fields are deployed into the brain to depress or stimulate brain nerve cells, which reduces the intensity degree of individuals who find certain things fearful or strange i.e. consuming a worm or insect, to a much lesser extent. These methods have received many mixed reviews from experienced scientists in and out of the field of neuroscience, suggesting that it is impossible to ‘brain jack’ an individual without their consent and, in doing so without, is indeed unethical. This leads us to the question of whether or not neuromarketing is an effective and ethical way of advertising. Regardless of the debate, we have made great strides in the way we produce and display our products and there is still so much more to be learnt.

 Dr Talia Carmel

Dr Talia Carmel

Dr. Talia Carmel is an MBBS graduate of Anna Medical College, Mauritius. Her ambition is to specialize in emergency medicine, invent a unique skincare brand, and break the stereotypes in the medical field. Presently, Dr. Talia is awaiting to serve her two-year internship in one of the hospitals in South Africa. She enjoys finding solutions to people’s health issues and bringing relief to those who struggle with various ailments. She aims to make a lasting impact on the lives of the people she meets. Dr. Talia is an accomplished player of the classical piano. 

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