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Neuromarketing: What's It All About?

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Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the brain's responses to marketing stimuli. Researchers use the fMRI to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain and to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what part of the brain is telling them to do it.

Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience to marketing. Neuroeconomics is the parent discipline that explores links between the brain and economic behavior. Neuromarketing includes the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technology to measure a subject's response to specific products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing elements. It also involves measuring skin response, eye-tracking and voice stress analysis.

Marketing analysts will use neuromarketing to better measure a consumer's preference, as the verbal response given to the question ''Do you like this product?'' may not always be the true answer. This knowledge will help marketers create products and services designed more effectively and marketing campaigns focused more on the brain's response.

Neuromarketing will tell the marketer what the consumer reacts to, whether it was the color of the packaging, the sound the box makes when shaken, or the idea that they will have something their co-consumers do not.

The word ''neuromarketing'' was coined by Ale Smidts in 2002. Dr David Lewis, founder of The Mindlab International has been dubbed the 'father of Neuromarketing' for his pioneering studies of analyzing brain activity for research and commercial purposes.

In an online shopping study, it was found that attraction to a product strongly correlated with activity in the nucleus accumbens, which seems to mediate the expectation of pleasure. Too high prices, on the other hand, stimulated the insula, which anticipates painful stimuli, and quieted the mesial prefrontal cortex, a phenomenon linked to disappointment when a hoped-for reward fails to materialize. MRI readings of these regions predicted whether the subject rejected or bought a product.

Among marketing careers, neuromarketing is an emerging stream. If you scan through marketing positions and marketing openings, you may not find many jobs in neuromarketing as yet. But, as neuromarketing develops, both advertising firms, the advertisers themselves, and boutique neuromarketing agencies will have a need for individuals who are primarily marketers and business people, but can communicate with the neuroscientists. Being able to understand and criticize proposed studies and their results will be important skills.

Just as a career in marketing, this field will require strong communication skills. Salaries in the neuromarketing field may not compare with marketing salaries in general as yet.

It may be useful for a person interested in this field to:
  • Study specific case studies featuring neuromarketing tools and techniques to build more successful brands, products, package designs, in-store marketing, and advertising.
  • Gather insights at the preconscious, precognitive level, where 95% of all decisions are made
  • Understand the unique aspects of male and female brains
  • Study neurological best practices for every point along the consumer journey

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