As intense competition has led to extreme market saturation, the emerging need for brands to stand out has turned into an absolute necessity. Modern brands are required to differentiate themselves from the competition, so as to resonate with their audience in a fashion much deeper than a mere series of purchases. The most effective way to establish customer relations of such nature is to shape a brand’s core values, behaviours and beliefs in a manner that will resonate with the audience best. A such quest requires acting with significant market insights and a deeper understanding of consumers’ wants and needs. For that reason, neuromarketing keeps growing to become, according to popular belief, one of the most important puzzle pieces of what marketing is going to look like in the future, especially when it comes to business sectors like hospitality, retail, luxury products and the entertainment industry.
What exactly is neuromarketing?
It is common knowledge that thorough and extensive consumer behaviour analyses will set the right foundations for a brand’s overall marketing strategy. Each decision that involves promotional activities for the sake of a brand and its products or services, needs to take into account factors such as efficient brand positioning, effective communication and the generation of consumer value. Neuromarketing will put all of the above in the light of behavioural sciences, psychology and cognitive science, in view of building a profitable marketing strategy, one that simultaneously focuses on enhancing brand image. Despite it being too early to know, experts already estimate that customer satisfaction will normally continue its run as literally every brand’s number one priority, even after neuromarketing establishes itself. The difference between neuromarketing and traditional marketing activities lies within the methods used to gain valuable consumer insights.
The tools used by neuromarketing
Delving into a thorough exploration of the human subconscious in view of generating influence on consumers’ decision-making process, neuromarketing is totally different than traditional marketing and consumer behaviour research. It examines a vast variety of ways, through which certain stimuli will lead to intuitive positive responses from the consumer, in a wide range of interdisciplinary experiments whose target is to decode the greatly complicated human brain. The implementation of brain scans is among the most essential tools there is, as they are able to identify and provide detailed analyses of different brain reactions to different stimuli. Beside brain scans, neuromarketing includes a variety of equally innovative, yet definitely more affordable methods, the implementation of which by various powerful brands in the near future has been described as imminent. Some of the aforementioned methods are:
- Facial coding, which examines the feelings behind various facial expressions.
- Eye-tracking, which specifies emotional responses such as excitement, through eye movement like pupils’ dilation.
- Heart rate monitors that can lead to the identification of several feelings, both positive and negative.
- Galvanic skin response (GSR), yet another way to detect a sentiment, this time through the skin’s response to certain stimuli.
The importance of customer segmentation in neuromarketing
In order for the conduction of neuromarketing research to be fruitful and provide with accurate consumer insights, it must take one or more demographic characteristics into consideration, so as to achieve a generally homogeneous sample. Some of those demographic characteristics might be the age, gender, level of education or origin, as much as other types of general information on the participants’ behaviour, which, under certain circumstances, may lead to more reliable results. The findings of such neuromarketing research shall help brands gain valuable consumer insights and, subsequently, work towards a more personalised customer experience.
How the findings of neuromarketing research are being put into use
Many brands around the globe are known to have already invested in neuromarketing research, so as to dive deep into the consumers’ subconscious and readjust their entire strategic promotion accordingly, aiming to elicit positive emotional responses from the majority of consumers. Some of the uses in which brands can benefit from neuromarketing research’s findings are the following:
- Discovering correlations between colour and emotion.
- Identifying the feelings elicited by audiovisual content and text.
- Finding which types of visual effects capture consumers’ attention and spark their interest.
- Being able to define the sentiments caused by the way an offer or discount is being presented.
All of the above can be integrated into every brand’s strategy in various ways, including its product packaging, brand logo, advertisements and, basically, each brand component that focuses on positioning the product in the market and gathering a positive response from its audience.
The future of neuromarketing
As various neuromarketing practices developed in the last few years keep growing steadily, at a compound annual growth rate of over 15%, neuromarketing’s global presence seems to already be shaping up in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa and Italy. Both market saturation and the undeniable necessity to build substantial relationships between brands and their audiences continue to contribute as neuromarketing’s driving forces. Several large brands have seized the chance to apply early neuromarketing practices, hoping to predict their audience’s response to a variety of marketing activities and thus to shield their brands against the possibility of an unsuccessful market positioning strategy.
Legal limitations and ethical issues in neuromarketing
While neuromarketing’s worldwide expansion seems to be unavoidable, both ethical and legal issues have already risen, threatening to sustain all relevant experiments. Even though neuromarketing sounds more than promising, as it will seemingly allow brands to completely change the way they interact with their audience, the ethical side of it all is quite hard to dismiss. Confusion in regard to the actual extent to which several existing neuromarketing practices cross the fine line of ethics, only to manipulate the consumers’ decision-making, has led to controversy. Besides, even if all issues and concerns are overcame, several experts already suspect that the possibility of a wider use of neuromarketing in the future is going to be subject to the current legislation in both North America and Europe, as it is reflected in laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The latter, for instance, will undoubtedly limit neuromarketing’s usage, so as to protect consumers against cases of misuse and abuse.