Neuromarketing is the application of cognitive neuroscience in marketing and communication. The purpose of this emerging discipline is better understanding of the consumers behavior through the identification of the brain mechanisms involved in the processes of consumers’ choice.
Neuromarketing greatly increases the accuracy of the decisions taken in the process of choosing. Traditional consumer researches of the marketing efficiency of the products promotion or advertising have not sufficient accuracy and do not always correspond to reality. In addition to that, the researchers have discovered that real purchase decisions are often subconscious, so that the consumer does not realize that his choice is not always a conscious decision. As a result, the traditional research methods, such as focus group interviews, allow only to a small extent predict real consumer behavior and provide only part of the information needed to support decision-making marketer.
The new discipline uses various techniques of medical imaging to monitor and record the brain’s activity in response to an economic agent in certain situations, such as viewing advertising, competitors product-testing, the act of purchase in real situations, etc. The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) are particularly used to identify the neural mechanisms associated with preference, attention, memory, and emotions that can induce the consumer purchase decision. Bias, introduced by experimental methodologies, imposed by the current technology, limits the accuracy of the results.
The term “neuromarketing” appeared at the beginning of the 2000s. This approach grew out of research by Dr. Read Montague, a researcher at Baylor University (Texas). Other researchers, both in economic management and marketing, had attempted to integrate neuroscientific data to their theoretical paradigms. The neurological experimentation is often complex, costly and de facto reserved in priority to the medical studies. Therefore, only the lightest techniques are most commonly used.
Consumer protection organizations widely criticize neuromarketing because of its invasive nature and ethical issues it raises. They express an opinion, according to which neuromarketing has an effect on individuals, the effect of which the individual is unaware. The aim of the technique is obviously to increase the consumption. However, in pursuing this objective many other factors are not taken into consideration. Using neurological techniques in order to influence consumer choices is thus comparable to a form of mental manipulation, which is more advanced than conventional advertising. From a legal point of view, we might even say that it violates the right to freedom of thought.
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