What is Neuromarketing?

On today’s show, we’re talking about neuromarketing, but what actually is it? Sarah Castor-Perry caught up with Gemma Calvert, who until recently was Professor of Applied...
10 October 2010

Interview with 

Gemma Calvert, Neurosense Ltd


Sarah -   On today's show, we're talking about neuromarketing, but what actually is it?  I caught up with Gemma Calvert, who until recently was Professor of Applied Neuroscience at Warwick University and is now Managing Director of Neurosense Limited to find out...

ShoppingGemma -   Well, neuromarketing is a term used to describe the application of tools and tasks that have been derived from the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to measure the nonconscious and biological, as opposed to the rational conscious and psychological, reactions to marketing stimuli materials and brands, and communication.

Sarah -   How exactly does a researcher go about looking into that sort of thing?  What sort of studies are used to give us this information?

Gemma -   There are a wide range of techniques which are now at our disposal and which have been applied in the commercial setting for the last 10 years, including techniques such as eye tracking, which can be done in store or looking at people's visual attention on a pack.  There are techniques such as EEG which allows us to track slight changes in positive or negative emotions over time for example, during an advert.  And then there is functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI which allows you to see deeply inside the brain to discriminate what kinds of emotions and cognitive processes are being elicited when somebody is exposed for example to a new product or to a fragrance, or to a public communication.

Sarah -   How do companies that wish to market a product, how do they go about using that information?

Gemma -   They're using this to understand much better the needs and drives that underlie human beings and also, to build an understanding about the way consumers make decisions.  They do this in order to improve marketing strategies and marketing spend.

Sarah -   What are the limitations of neuromarketing?  People might think, "Oh, it's reading your mind, reading what you want."  But are there limitations to the use of these sorts of studies in marketing?

Gemma -   I think one has to admit there are limitations to every technique that's available at the moment, but the advantages of these techniques is because so much of our behaviour is driven by processes which operate below the level of our awareness, without turning to these tools, you can't measure any of that information.  So you're throwing away 80% of information about consumers and what they want, and how the brain processes communications about those products if you don't use them.  I think we've gone well past the early adoptive stage into a more mainstream uptake of these technologies, but we have to admit that they are still in their infancies.  So, the story has a long way to run and we're just getting future developments and further developments in the technological side of things.  It's going to mean that we're going to be able to gain a much, much more in-depth understanding of the kinds of things that we can do to create better consumer experiences.

Sarah -   ...And when I spoke to Gemma, she was also keen to stress that these sorts of techniques are merely one part of the arsenal of methods used to research responses to products and adverts, along with questionnaires, market research, that sort of thing.  But they can certainly help make those other methods more effective.  That was Gemma Calvert, Director of Neurosense Limited.


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