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Neuromarketing is a field of marketing research that studies consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. Researchers use technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, electroencephalography (EEG) and Steady state topography (SST) to measure activity in specific regional spectra of the brain response, or sensors to measure changes in one's physiological state, also known as biometrics, including heart rate and respiratory rate, galvanic skin response to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and which brain areas are responsible. Certain companies, particularly those with large-scale ambitions to predict consumer behaviour, have invested in their own laboratories, science personnel or partnerships with academia. [1] Present in over ten countries, the Neuromarketing Business Association [2] today centralizes academic publications and certifications and serves as a networking platform for professionals in the field.

Companies such as Google, CBS, Frito-Lay, and A & E Television amongst others have used neuromarketing research services to measure consumer thoughts on their advertisements or products.[3]

In the late 1990s, both Neurosense (UK) and Gerry Zaltmann (USA) had established neuromarketing companies. Unilever's Consumer Research Exploratory Fund (CREF) too had been publishing white papers on the potential applications of Neuromarketing.[4]


The basis for neuromarketing derives from the Greek philosopher Plato (Chariot Allegory, Phaedrus 245c–249d). Plato’s chariot-drawn-by-two-horses philosophy was the first to link the human person to a human soul (mind). One horse symbolizes human emotion (system 1) while the other is a representation of human reasoning (system 2); however, until recently,[when?] the “black box” of the consumer was merely the horse of reason.[citation needed] Nevertheless, Plato’s chariot and two-horse theory was disregarded[by whom?] as it was simpler to investigate, model and forecast reasoning of consumers than to predict their emotions (Miljkovic et al., 2010, p. 274). Consequently, the philosophy of Plato has evolved in the concepts of neuromarketing. An example of this is seen in the decision processing of neuromarketing, system 1 and system 2.[citation needed]

System 1 and System 2

Based on the Neuromarketing concept of decision processing, consumer buying decisions rely on either System 1 or System 2 processing or Plato’s two horses and a chariot. System 1 thinking is intuitive, unconscious, effortless, fast and emotional. In contrast, decisions driven by system 2 are deliberate, conscious reasoning, slow and effortful. In consumer behavior, these processes guide everyday purchasing decisions. Nevertheless, Zurawicki (2010) believes that buying decisions are driven by one’s mood and emotions; concluding that compulsive and or spontaneous purchases are driven by system 1.

The neuromarketing concept

The neuromarketing concept was developed by psychologists at Harvard University in 1990. The technology is based on a model whereby the major thinking part of human activity (over 90%), including emotion, takes place in the subconscious area that is below the levels of controlled awareness. For this reason, the perception technologists of the market are very tempted to learn the techniques of effective manipulation of the subconscious brain activity. The main reason is to inspire the desired reaction in person’s perception as deeply as possible.

The base of neuromarketing is the meme[5][6] (by Richard Dawkins - a unit of cultural information similar to gene).[7] Meme is a unit of information stored in the brain. These units are effective at influencing a person who is making choices and decisions within 2.6 seconds. If “meme” is chosen properly we remember the good, joke or song and would share it. “Memes stay in memory and they are affected by marketers”.

Examples of memes: Aromas of fresh bread, sweets, grandmother's pie; Characters in fairy tales, melodies that cannot be forced out of one's mind. Thus neuromarketers examine people (brain scan, revealing subconscious motives) and manipulate them.

Best-known technology of neuromarketing was developed in the late 1990s by Harvard professor Jerry Zaltmen (Gerald Zaltman), once it was patented under the name of Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). The essence of ZMET reduces to exploring the human unconscious with specially selected sets of images that cause a positive emotional response and activate hidden images, metaphors stimulating the purchase.[8] Graphical collages are constructed on the base of detected images, which lays in the basis for commercials. Marketing Technology ZMET quickly gained popularity among hundreds of major companies-customers including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Nestle, Procter & Gamble.

Coke vs. Pepsi

In a study from the group of Read Montague published in 2004 in Neuron,[9] 67 people had their brains scanned while being given the "Pepsi Challenge", a blind taste test of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Half the subjects chose Pepsi, since Pepsi tended to produce a stronger response than Coke in their brain's ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region thought to process feelings of reward. But when the subjects were told they were drinking Coke three-quarters said that Coke tasted better. Their brain activity had also changed. The lateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that scientists say governs high-level cognitive powers, and the hippocampus, an area related to memory, were now being used, indicating that the consumers were thinking about Coke and relating it to memories and other impressions. The results demonstrated that Pepsi should have half the market share, but in reality consumers are buying Coke for reasons related less to their taste preferences and more to their experience with the Coke brand.


Some consumer advocate organizations, such as the Center for Digital Democracy, have criticized neuromarketing’s potentially invasive technology. Jeff Chester, the executive director of the organization, claims that neuromarketing is “having an effect on individuals that individuals are not informed about." Further, he claims that though there has not historically been regulation on adult advertising due to adults having defense mechanisms to discern what is true and untrue, that it should now be regulated “if the advertising is now purposely designed to bypass those rational defenses . . . protecting advertising speech in the marketplace has to be questioned."[3]

Joseph Turow, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, dismisses neuromarketing as another reincarnation of gimmicky attempts for advertisers to find non-traditional approaches toward gathering consumer opinion. He is quoted in saying, "There has always been a holy grail in advertising to try to reach people in a hypodermic way. Major corporations and research firms are jumping on the neuromarketing bandwagon, because they are desperate for any novel technique to help them break through all the marketing clutter. ‘It’s as much about the nature of the industry and the anxiety roiling through the system as it is about anything else."[10]

Advocates nonetheless argue that society benefits from neuromarketing innovations. German neurobiologist Kai-Markus Müller promotes a neuromarketing variant, "neuropricing," that uses data from brain scans to help companies identify the highest prices consumers will pay. Müller says "everyone wins with this method," because brain-tested prices enable firms to increase profits, thus increasing prospects for survival during economic recession. [11]

See also


  1. Karmarkar, Uma R. (2011). "Note on Neuromarketing". Harvard Business School (9-512-031).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Neuromarketing Business Association
  3. 3.0 3.1 Natasha Singer (3 November 2010). "Making Ads that Whisper to the Brain". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. David Lewis & Darren Brigder (July–August 2005). "Market Researchers make Increasing use of Brain Imaging" (PDF). Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation. 5 (3): 35+.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. ^ a b c d Dawkins, Richard (1989), The Selfish Gene (2 ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 192, ISBN 0-19-286092-5, "We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me, if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'."
  6. ^ Millikan 2004, p. 16; Varieties of meaning "Richard Dawkins invented the term 'memes' to stand for items that are reproduced by imitation rather than reproduced genetically."
  7. ^ Shalizi, Cosma Rohilla. "Memes". Center for the Study of Complex Systems. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  8. "Carbone, Lou. Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times Prentice Hall (2004): 140-141, 254.".
  9. Samuel M. McClure, Jian Li, Damon Tomlin, Kim S. Cypert, Latané M. Montague, and P. Read Montague (2004). "Neural Correlates of Behavioral Preference for Culturally Familiar Drinks" (abstract). Neuron. 44 (2): 379–387. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2004.09.019. PMID 15473974.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Natasha Singer (13 November 2010). "Making Ads that Whisper to the Brain". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Peter Osterlund (11 October 2013). "First they scan your brain. Then they set their price". 60second Recap.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Lindström, Martin (2010). Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 9780385523899. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Renvoisé, Patrick; Morin, Christophe (2007). Neuromarketing: Understanding the "Buy Buttons" in Your Customer's Brain. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 9780785226802.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Zaltman, Gerald (2003). How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Markets. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 9781578518265. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Żurawicki, Leon (2010). Neuromarketing: Exploring the Brain of the Consumer. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 9789089651877.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links