Last week we talked to Anand Damani, behavioural scientist and partner at Briefcase about Behavioural Design in Marketing. This week we caught up with Shikher Chaudhary, Cognitive Neuroscientist Director at Neurons Inc, India to understand the up-and-coming field of neuromarketing where neuroscience is used to improve marketing strategies.
1. How have brands used neuromarketing effectively?
The majority of brands use consumer neuroscience in one form or another as a means to understand their consumer’s preferences on a subconscious and emotional level. How do people make decisions on what to buy and what to pay for it the instant they see it? Will the marketing campaign work in communicating the message to people adequately? This understanding allows brands to not only predict consumer behavior far more accurately but also create and modify products, services, and marketing that are far more appealing and effective in nature. The applications of neuroscience in the industry have been widespread, from media and advertising, to FMCG, product and retail, to even the automobile, finance and VR industry.
2. What are the new trends in neuromarketing and how much does technology aid it?
The advancement in the quality and portability of EEG (used for brain mapping) technology has allowed consumer research to be conducted in real life environments. While traditional neuromarketing was confined to a lab setting, mobile eye trackers and EEG devices, particularly the ones that Neurons Inc uses have allowed us to conduct research in real life scenarios to get a far more accurate understanding of consumer behavior. For example, testing the efficacy of digital ads inserted in the respondents’ social media platforms, testing product and brand communication within retail stores, understanding consumer emotions while interacting with products and services are all possible now due to far superior research methods.
3. What are the common misinterpretations when it comes to neuromarketing?
There are two major misconceptions that are most prevalent. One, that consumer neuroscience is still in its infancy and not fully validated. This is completely untrue given the vast amounts of peer-reviewed research papers and its application in the biggest companies in the world, validating the methodology both in academia and industry. The other misconception being that it somehow manipulates or influences the consumer into purchasing certain products, which is not in any way, shape or form the purpose of consumer neuroscience. It is a research tool designed to acquire and understand a far superior understanding of consumer’s preferences and needs and help companies and marketers design products and services to better suit those needs.
4. What are the cons of neuromarketing?
Due to the rising popularity of neuromarketing, a lot of research agencies, especially in India have attempted to pass off cheap, pseudo-scientific, sub-par tools to unsuspecting and ill-informed organisations, under the guise of neuroscience solutions. This often results in negative experiences with the methodology and runs the danger of turning off companies towards the use of neuro-tools indefinitely. One way to prevent this is for companies to look at the scientific credentials of the research solutions they are subscribing to and whether it is truly tried and tested by the industry.
5. Traditional marketing focuses on ensuring the consumers make the decision to buy the product/service while neuromarketing relies on influencing their subconscious into possibly buying the product/ service. By that definition, would traditional marketing be more effective?
Both traditional and neuromarketing have the same objective of understanding the consumer decision-making process and appealing to that need in the best possible way. While traditional methodologies rely on conscious stated responses, mainly what people say they like or do, we know from research that is not what drives actual behavior. Understanding their subconscious/emotional preferences and what appeals to them the second they see an ad or product is far more predictive of what people will buy. To perfectly understand how to increase marketing efficacy, both traditional and neuroscience methodologies must be applied.
6. What according to you is the difference in effectiveness and strategy between behavioral science marketing and neuromarketing?
Similar to traditional methodologies, behavioral science is effective in understanding consumer behavior in certain conditions, however, it is not without its flaws. Behavioral science is based mainly on principles of human behavior as understood from traditional psychology, however, these can be open to biases and interpretations. On the other hand, consumer neuroscience is a far more refined, data-driven methodology capturing things such as attention, comprehension, engagement, and preference directly from the brain.
Shikher Chaudhary, a Cognitive Neuroscientist from King’s College London, heads the Indian division of Neurons Inc, a global applied neuroscience firm. As a researcher Shikher works to bridge the gap between academia and industry, applying insights from neuroscience research to consumer insights, education, health and artificial intelligence.