What Is Neuromarketing and How Do Smart Marketers Use It?

Omer Lewinsohn

Omer Lewinsohn

What Is Neuromarketing and How Do Smart Marketers Use It?

Neuromarketing uses information from neuroscience technology to make decisions on creating and serving advertising campaigns to consumers. It has quickly evolved to become a sophisticated tool accessible to marketing professionals to create campaigns that have an extraordinary impact. 

Let’s unpack this powerful fusion of two data-heavy industries to understand what it is and how smart marketers use it.

What Is Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing, sometimes called consumer neuroscience, is marketing that uses data from neuroscience research for improved consumer experiences and campaign outcomes.

This method allows marketers to use scientific knowledge to understand consumers’ thinking and behavior. They can then use evidence-based practices to anticipate and influence purchase decisions.

Attracting customers’ attention and then convincing them to buy has always been the goal of marketing. Marketers have been figuring out creative ways to do this for over a century.

The age of digital marketing has given us the ability to capture data related to online behavior. We’ve gotten pretty good at anticipating buying signals and targeting specific groups of people at the right time in the buyer’s journey. 

Neuromarketing takes targeted marketing to a new level. It goes beyond responding to consumer behavior and makes a study out of anticipating it and influencing it. 

Neuroscience and Marketing

Neuroscience is defined as any science that deals with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain. In other words, it focuses on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive function. 

There are different areas of neuroscience, including developmental, cognitive, behavioral, molecular, and cellular. Neuromarketing uses cognitive and behavioral neuroscience to inform marketing decisions.

How Do Marketers Get Neuroscience Information?

Understanding the definition of neuromarketing is great. But you might be wondering how to get your hands on the information. There are a few levels of technology involved in collecting neuroscience information. 

Unfortunately, the most scientific methods are probably not easily accessible for smaller marketing teams. However, knowledge learned through research will eventually make its way through the industry. 

EEG and fMRI

EEG and fMRI testing have been used to learn about subconscious drivers of behavior related to a specific product or experience. 

Scientific studies like this must identify one specific item or theory to test. This can make compiling a large base of information quite tedious. And the equipment used for EEG and fMRI is expensive. 

Therefore, going this deep into marketing research is most often done by large companies with a corresponding large budget to ensure the success of a comprehensive advertising strategy. 

Eye Tracking and Facial Coding

Other less expensive methods for obtaining neuroscience information for marketing include eye-tracking and facial coding

Eye-tracking follows and documents the person’s gaze when looking at an advertisement to see what catches their attention. It can also measure whether the pupils dilated to gauge the level of engagement. 

Facial coding identifies facial expressions. This is an attempt to capture general emotional responses like happiness, surprise, etc. 

Digital Technology

Infrared technology has been used since the early 2000s to detect the movement of a user’s mouse over a web page. The theory is that people will track their viewing patterns with their mouse. Marketers have used this information to decide where on a page to place an ad and how to lay out a web page to optimize user experience and engagement. 

Consumer Behavior

Targeted marketing that we all know and use can be considered neuromarketing on a less sophisticated level. Marketers use platform algorithms, online and offline consumer behavior, and analytics to determine who to put their message in front of and where they are. Data from these sources are readily available and take most of the guesswork out of marketing.

Advancements in marketing are rapidly developing. Things like artificial intelligence (AI) and dynamic algorithms allow smart marketers to stay abreast of advancements and leverage new knowledge to make data-driven decisions. As marketing technology becomes more refined, new types of data-collecting science emerge. 

Simply using consumer behavior tracking data is not considered by some people to be neuromarketing since it’s not technically using neuroscience. It is, however, a study of behavior and cognitive information that make a science out of marketing. 

How Have Brands Used Neuromarketing?

Well-known brands have used neuromarketing to test ads, packaging, and even product design to make decisions. Coke, Frito-Lay, and Yahoo have been pioneers in using neuroscience in marketing. 

Coke has notoriously used consumer survey data. Then they began doing studies that compare results from consumer surveys to information learned from fMRI tests. 

The results were inconsistent between the two methods. For example, fMRI results showed an aversion to an image the subject was looking at based on neural activity in the brain region that controls emotional response. But the same subject answered with a positive response to their feelings about the image on the survey. 

Cheetos (Frito-Lay) used a similar method- comparison testing for a TV commercial they created. The comparison was between the results of an EEG test measuring the strength of emotional engagement to reported feelings from the subjects. 

Here again, they found inconsistencies. The subjects did not want to report positive feelings toward a negative situation when the EEG results showed they enjoyed the ad. 

Frito-Lay and Campbell’s have used neuroimaging to determine feelings consumers have about certain nuances of their packaging. This was combined with interviewing the test subjects related to imaging, material finish, and text on the packaging. One of the study’s biggest takeaways was that consumers preferred a matte finish to a glossy one. 

Yahoo, in somewhat of a dichotomy of circumstances given they are a digital company, used neuromarketing for making decisions related to a TV ad. They used EEG testing to score emotion and memory in subjects who watched the commercial.

The tests revealed high scores in those areas, and the brand ran the campaign. You might remember it. It was an upbeat commercial showing people around the world dancing. 

Hyundai’s use of neuromarketing is an example of leveraging neuroscience data to influence product design. They used EEG testing of brain signals to make adjustments to the exterior of their vehicles to increase sales. 

How Do You Do Neuromarketing?

Unless you have a considerable marketing research budget to run your own experiments, you will need to rely on knowledge gained from studies that have been done over the past two decades by the marketing giants of the world. 

Here are examples of ad copy strategies that use some of this knowledge.

  • Use easy-to-read text. Fonts should be simple, and the language should be to-the-point and easy to understand. 
  • Provide a call to action. Consumers are more likely to take action if told what to do. This helps to decrease inaction due to indecisiveness. 
  • Make a call to action in a print or digital ad stand out with larger text, bold font, colors, or icons.
  • If there is a person or animal in the ad, place that image so that its gaze faces the part of the ad you want the consumer to pay attention to. Research shows that people will look at what the person in the ad is looking at.
  • An image of a person in an ad should be a happy person or someone portraying a good mood and smiling. Neuroscience studies show that ads with smiling people can boost mood and increase the customer’s willingness to spend.
Omer Lewinsohn

Omer Lewinsohn

online entrepreneur with a passion for understanding the why behind human behavior in the digital world.