Today, brands are forced to employ increasingly novel approaches when assessing what drives consumers. To this end, many work with specialised neuromarketing companies that carry out implicit research studies. But what do these companies actually do? And what techniques do they use?
Why are companies betting on neuromarketing?
The brands are conscious that the consumer is more demanding and less faithful. It is not sufficient for the product or service to satisfy specific necessities. Instead, the consumer wants to fall in love with the product, to be surprised- they are searching for a relationship that goes further than a simple financial exchange. Brands, in their quest to win over the consumer and target audiences, aim to know their desires and necessities, and, generally speaking, everything that is related to the decision-making process when making a purchase.
Thanks to traditional market research, brands know what the consumer thinks and verbalizes through explicit research techniques, such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews, and are able to analyze consumer behavior with observation techniques. But in an increasingly competitive reality, this information can be insufficient.
Neuromarketing was born a few years ago, and this discipline has been a revolution in market research: it is a new way to know more about and enter the mind of the consumer, extracting information related to motivations and attitudes, emotional reactions and cognitive processes through implicit research techniques. It is different to traditional market research in that it extracts this information by applying neuromarketing research techniques, such as brain imaging (EEG or functional magnetic resonances), eye tracking, measuring galvanic skin responses or heart rates (GSR or HRV), among other parameters.
Neuromarketing is a new tool that complements traditional research, to help brands understand their clients in a holistic manner. Not only large companies, such as Google, Microsoft, Disney, Hyundai, and Coca-Cola, are conscious of its possibilities and make use of this new type of research- many new or smaller companies also carry out these types of studies to know more about the decision-making process, what motivates purchasing decisions, how to improve the usability of their websites, test their product, optimize social media or ad campaigns to improve conversion rate, create a sense in brands, and assess their traditional or digital marketing strategies, among many others.
Faced with this reality, the demand for market studies that employ neuromarketing techniques continues to experience significant increases. As a consequence, the number of companies and experts in neuromarketing in Spain and around the world has also increased considerably. Therefore, working with neuromarketing techniques to obtain more information on the consumer has been converted into a must for many companies. But which companies are adherents to neuromarketing? Do all of them carry out studies? And are they exclusively dedicated to neuromarketing?
We can split neuromarketing companies into three big groups:
Companies that offer neuromarketing services (they carry out studies for the brands)
Companies that develop and then sell the technologies to carry out these studies (brands carry out the studies themselves)
Companies that use both #1 and #2.
Neuromarketing companies that carry out and offer studies
The objective of these neuromarketing research companies is to carry out and offer studies to analyse, from emotional and cognitive levels, different aspects of a marketing strategy, such as publicity campaigns, a product, or its packaging. The results could include the position of the brand in the mind of consumers, identification of the best insights to seduce consumers, or to find areas to improve in the usability of a website or mobile app. In this line, we can distinguish several types of companies that are dedicated to carrying out these studies:
Traditional market research or user experience (UX) companies
Traditional market investigation or user experience (UX) companies are already incorporating some neuromarketing techniques to complement their quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (interviews, focus groups, usability studies) studies. Although neuromarketing isn’t their main focus, brands increasingly need to complement the information expressed consciously by the consumers with nonconscious information related to the emotions of consumers.
A new trend of these companies is to incorporate biosensors into focus groups, interviews, and usability studies. In this way, we can obtain quantitative emotional information that can be combined with qualitative information about the feelings, at a group level, during different moments of the meeting.
Nevertheless, neuromarketing is a complex discipline. Carrying out a study involves much more than simply having the required technology and neuromarketing laboratories. It is necessary to know how to carry out an experimental design (establish the necessary steps and their order in the study) to ensure that results and conclusions are valid and reliable. Knowing how to carry out these experimental designs, minimal background in scientific methodology is required. However, depending on the study, this could be a complex task, and therefore many of these research institutes, besides incorporating the technology, open a specific department to this end. These departments have specialized personnel in consumer neuroscience, or work with specialized partners in neuroscience, such as Bitbrain.
Most of the international brands have consumer intelligence departments. People that work in these departments have a clear remit: obtain valuable information on consumers to help develop new products or design effective advertising campaigns. As such, numerous strategies and techniques have been employed over the years, such as the execution of their own traditional market studies, detection of trends, innovation in the creation of new products, and the observation of the consumer and related shopping habits.
To complement such information, some brands (as well as traditional market research companies) incorporate neuromarketing techniques. However, as previously mentioned, technology is not enough. Appropriate, experimental design is required, and personnel training is necessary. Many brands opt to buy neuromarketing laboratories that include pre-established templates or hire out third parties to carry out studies.
Companies that operate exclusively with neuromarketing
These companies are solely specialized in carrying out neuromarketing studies. These studies help identify improvement margins in advertising campaigns, products or services, or within digital surroundings. Changes can therefore be suggested or focus redirected to enhance the positive aspects that contribute to the desired outcome.
The companies that employ neuromarketing come with the required technology and prepared personnel to carry out the studies. The most commonly employed neuromarketing techniques include EEG to measure brain activity and analyze brain electrical responses, GSR or EDA to measure micro-changes in skin perspiration, BVP or ECG to measure heart rhythm, eye-trackers to determine visual attention, and implicit response tests to evaluate the associative force of two concepts with different aspects, and indoor-GPS to learn about patterns of movement in shops. But there are also companies that offer studies with functional magnetic resonance to determine which areas of the brain are activated in different studies. However, these studies are expensive, long, and the willingness of participants is usually reduced, among other inconveniences of this technology.
Other companies that carry out neuromarketing studies
Besides market investigation or user experience (UX), companies and brands, there are other organizations that do not want to be left behind regarding knowledge on the consumer. Some of these are publicity agencies, digital or general marketing consultancies, communication companies, and design companies. These companies have seen that neuromarketing is an effective tool to improve the result of their service by, for example, confirming the effectiveness of their publicity campaigns (agencies), assessing their proposals at digital or traditional marketing levels (marketing consultancies), identifying the best point of a political speech (communication companies and political neuromarketing), and confirming the response to new product designs (design companies). Many of these already have the technology and the trained personnel to carry out their neuromarketing studies. However, some companies choose to hire specialized companies.
Companies that sell neuromarketing technology
All the aforementioned companies require neuromarketing laboratories, such as the ones developed by Bitbrain. These laboratories enable the design of studies, registry of data, and analysis of physiological and behavioral responses of the consumers. Neuroscientific equipment employed in the medical sector is complex, and therefore the extraction of valuable data for a brand is a difficult task. With this in mind, engineers and scientists, along with market researchers, have developed technology and programs that are more easily adapted to be used in market investigation. This involves the comfortable measurement and analysis of physiological and behavioral responses, which can be translated into valuable information for marketing and communication. Therefore, it is important that, before purchasing any equipment, we ensure its quality and usability in the context of market investigation. If the equipment is not reliable, the results provided will not be either, and, if it is too difficult to operate, it is basically useless.
Before the neuromarketing boom, there were techniques employed to gather information on the consumer from many different angles and disciplines, such as human behaviour research or human psychology. These techniques are still employed today and provide valuable information. However, when confronted with the necessity of analysing nonconscious motivations and attitudes of the consumer, and when considering emotions and cognitive biases that influence the decision making process, companies have started to use neuromarketing, with many having acquired laboratories to enable in-house studies. If you are going to carry out a neuromarketing study or are planning to purchase a laboratory, it is important to take into account the quality and usability of the technology, as well as the necessity of training in scientific investigation. Neuromarketing is multidisciplinary and therefore requires knowledge of several different areas within the worlds of neuroscience and marketing, the combination of which provides complete information on the consumer.
To remain up-to-speed on the latest advances in neuromarketing, you can check out blogs, videos, scientific studies, or even enroll in a neuromarketing course. In this case, do not miss out on our view on how to select the course that would best meet your expectations.
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