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What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Marketing

by Darren Bridger  |  
May 16, 2016

Marketers have seen trends and theories come and go over the years. Neuromarketing—or the use of neuroscience tools and theories to better understand consumers—is the new kid on the block. Does it have staying power? Will it revolutionize how we think about marketing?

It's too early to say whether neuromarketing will revolutionize how we communicate with consumers. But having worked in the field since its early days (about 15 years ago), I think neuromarketing can definitely help us think differently in some ways. 

Neuromarketing can give us a new perspective on some old issues and confirm some things that we might have always suspected but lacked the hard evidence to prove.

Here's a look at what neuromarketing can teach us.

Persuasion isn't rational

It's debatable whether those effects can be called persuasion at all.

If you ask three-year-olds why they want something, such as an ice cream or a toy, they typically say something like "because I do."

By the time these children turn five, they will start to give reasons. Is that because they suddenly have reason motivating their behavior? Or have they just learned to put verbal rationalizations on their emotions? I would argue the latter.

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Darren Bridger is a consultant at NeuroStrata, an independent consultancy helping clients and agencies in all aspects of neuromarketing. He also is the author of Decoding the Irrational Consumer.

LinkedIn: Darren Bridger

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  • by Gordon Graham Mon May 16, 2016 via web

    Interesting piece, but it only touches on B2C product design and marketing. Any insights from neuroscience for B2B marketers?

    For example, when a group of people make a B2B buying decision for a lot of money, I would imagine there are different factors at play with the goal of making a rational decision that benefits the company. What can neuroscience tell us about that?

  • by Coralyn Thu May 19, 2016 via web

    There's no doubt in my mind that neuro-marketing works but there is definitely ethical guidelines that should be developed and followed. There's a fine line between marketing and manipulation. For instance, you point out children but the part of the brain that allows for full reasoning and decision making actually isn't developed until young adulthood. This is why teenagers do dumb stuff. It's also why teenagers are such a great niche market to hit because they are impulse buyers and persuaded easily. Is it ethical to take advantage of this underdevelopment? One of the original marketers for McDonalds even said "Give me a child under 6 and I'll make him a customer for life."

    Companies have come under fire for subliminal manipulation. McDonald's was called out for using a fragrance in their cleaning supplies that made their customers hungry. They developed the formula based on research from neuromarketing companies.

    Things like colors and sounds, smells and placing things in certain places on shelves, I understand. But I believe, I think there's several others who'd agree with me, that there needs to be a line so that we still give a customer a freewill to choose.

  • by Judy Caroll Mon May 23, 2016 via web

    This is a nice article for me. Well even though it is more applicable to the B2C community, somehow I gained a lot of insights from this one. Neuromarketing is very essential base on what you have stated here.Through this, we can have new perspectives that is somehow essential in our business planning as well. Thanks for this. :-)

  • by Lauren Clemett Mon May 23, 2016 via web

    Spot on Darren,

    We have moved from the age of persuasion to the age of authenticity and it's the main reason we invested in adding Neurobranding to our programs a few years back. Great article, love the irony around brain scans!

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