Studying the Brain for Marketing Research

Neuroscience: A New Perspective (Millward Brown)

Neuroscience in MarketingWhen most marketers think of marketing research techniques they generally focus on traditional methods such as surveys, experiments and focus groups.  While these methods continue to be at the top of the list of how marketers gather customer information, new technology-driven methods are increasingly gaining favor among a growing number of marketers. Some of these methods, such as website analytics, are already well established and necessary for managing many marketing decisions.  But there are a number of others that have evolved over the last few years which marketers should watch closely.

In this story, market research firm Millward Brown explores three unconventional methods for measuring consumer behavior – implicit association measurement, eye-tracking and brainwave measurement.  These are grouped as neuroscience techniques, which we will define as methods for measuring brain activity when customers are exposed to certain neuro-stimuli (e.g., advertisement).

While each method uses a different approach for gathering customer information, each shares the goal of enabling marketers to learn something about customers that customers may not be willing to share or may not be able to express.  For instance, they may not be able to tell the marketer what part of a magazine advertisement first caught their attention, while eye-tracking methods can.

While the story offers nice coverage of these high-tech research methods, it does caution marketers to be careful in how the data is interpreted.

…marketers should use neuroscience-based research in conjunction with established techniques when (and only when) it adds value. If used in isolation, such methods can be hard to interpret, but when combined with qualitative or survey-based research, they can add a powerful new dimension of insight.

Besides using these techniques to test advertising, what other marketing decisions could be supported using these methods?

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