Neuro Marketing

The latest trends in advertising and marketing use neuroscience, and look beyond influencing our choices to directly affecting our brains at a physical level. Technology to monitor and alter brain waves dates back to the 1970’s. Current research uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to map the brain’s responses to stimuli. In 2001, “The Brighthouse Institute for Institute for Thought Sciences” gave birth to the BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group, the first neuromarketing company, based in Atlanta. Last week, neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield told the Institute of Direct Marketing how marketing can create new neuronal networks in the brain. Critics say using neuroscience to directly manipulate the brain is unethical and will be used to control our thinking, and voting too.

Marketing interest in learning more about the brain has also been spurred by Jerry Zaltman’s landmark book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, which explores in some depth connections between the brain and marketing theory and practice.

Two recent articles have attracted considerable attention among my colleagues. U.S. News and World Report cover story was “Mysteries of the Mind” by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak. The article told about researchers’ findings that 95% of mental activity involved in a decision occurs outside of consciousness. Considering that most marketing concentrates on the conscious mind, that’s a notable finding to say the least.

The other article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, “Searching for the Why of Buy” by Robert Lee Hotz. Ponder this statement Hotz makes when discussing what brain imaging was telling researchers:

My interest in Marketing and the latest technology used has taken me to the website of Centre for Cognitive liberty & ethics. Emory University’s study on the subject is fascinating and I expect a lot of development in this field. The test and the results of the Pepsicola and Coca cola branding memory in the brain are indeed very interesting. Did they use the technology for the Bush election? Who knows! The roads between ethics and science once again are crossing. The big question remains: How much is being used unethically without the knowledge of society?