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Neuromarketing: Need to know?

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

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Author: Semra Çeliktepe

Publication date: 13/04/2022

It’s possible that what a person says or likes, isn’t the same as what they prefer. It’s possible that what they believe isn't always what they like. Isn’t it a little complicated? You are correct. Let me clarify this...

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Neuroscience in Marketing

Increased competitiveness and new communication channels brought about by digital transformation have created new vistas in the marketing industry. Companies who do not listen to their customers’ needs and wishes are condemned to fail, but companies that adapt to the new period make greater attempts to understand their customers’ behavior and decisions. Traditional methods like face-to-face interviews, surveys and interviews are used by marketers to obtain feedback from customers. Therefore, they can evaluate their purchasing and decision-making behavior and learn how they feel about a product or service.

Unfortunately, these methodologies are restricted in their ability to explain cognitive and behavioral behaviors, particularly emotional ones. First, they assume that people can describe their own cognitive processes, which, as we all know, include numerous subconscious components. Second, several external determinants such as incentives, time restrictions and peer pressure, might obscure the relationship between the research participants’ feelings and behaviors. In other words, with the development of neuroscience methods in marketing research, exciting methodological choices submitted in this complex situation. Consumer neuroscience combines several various disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, molecular neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, neurobiology and affective neuroscience. So, a new field of science has emerged that allows us to better understand what draws a customer’s attention, their emotions, what spoils them and what and how they remember; neuromarketing...

Understand Consumer Behaviors

To better understand consumer behavior, such as purchasing and making decisions, it may be required to focus on the symbolic meanings of the products they purchase. In addition,it is important to examine whether people do not only make rational decisions, but also consider their emotions. “The challenge of making decisions in situations with little knowledge is solved by emotions.” Antonio Damasio, a well-known neuroscientist, claims that it is impossible to obtain all information about a subject and pass it through cognitive processes, and that people make decisions based on their emotions rather than reasoning. Martin Lindstrom, whose book “Buyology” was published in 2008, made neuromarketing science famous around the world.

Lindstrom stated that as a result of his three-year, seven-million-dollar neurological scientific studies, people generally do not tell the truth when it comes to purchasing, whereas the brain always tells the truth. For example, in 2004, a group of Baylor College of Medicine researchers published the results of their neuromarketing research to determine the rates and reasons why Coca-Cola and Pepsi are preferred by consumers. In this study, subjects were asked to drink both beverages without seeing the brand names and then choose which one they preferred. According to the results of the test, 75% of the subjects preferred Pepsi. However, when the brand name was displayed before drinking the Coke, it was found that 75% of the subjects preferred Coca-Cola. During the tests, the researchers scanned the subjects’ brains and discovered that the Coca-Cola brand’s memory center in the subjects’ brain was overactivated. Then, the researchers stated that when they enter the nervous systems of subjects who drank the beverage, there are visual images and marketing messages. Therefore, the brand’s red and white colors have a significant impact on this area that regulates human behavior. This is a subconscious choice. The result explains why we prefer and buy the stronger brand over the brand we like.

What is Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience methods to consumers in order to understand consumer behavior. The most significant advantage of neuromarketing research over traditional methods is that it eliminates the gap between the consumer’s verbal response and what they actually think. There are several consumer neuroscience tools used to study consumer decision-making and behavior. Consumer neuroscience tools typically include devices that can measure vital physiological functions (such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure), reflexes (such as gaze fixation, pupil dilation, and facial expression), and brain activities. When exposed to marketing stimuli, these tools provide information about impressions, reactions, and emotional reactions (positive / negative). Measuring changes in activity in different brain regions reveals not only why consumers choose that product, but also which brain part is involved in this decision. Let us first look at the consumer neuroscience tools which are most commonly used.

Tools Of Consumer Neuroscience

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  1. EE (Electroencephalography), precisely measures the electrical communication of electrodes attached to a person’s head and the brain’s nearly 100 billion neuron cells. It enables the determination of specific levels associated with situations and tendencies such as attention, motivation, emotional interest, and cognitive workload.

  2. fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), reveals whether similar or dissimilar neural activities occur in the brain in response to two different decisions, as well as whether similar psychological processes occur as a result of these. It can detect oxygenated blood flow in an area as small as 1 millimeter in the brain by measuring the magnetic properties of hemoglobin in red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body.

  3. PET (Positron Emission Tomography), measures the activation of which parts of the brain in response to marketing or advertising stimuli based on the glucose ratio in the brain.

  4. GSR (Galvanic Skin Response), measures the conductivity level of resistance or electric currents that occur in the human skin. For example, changes in skin resistance or electrical conductivity of the skin during emotional activities such as fear, excitement, and worry.

  5. Facial Coding, can be defined as the measurement of mimics in which unconscious reactions are coded using a video camera and based on the person’s facial muscle movements in response to an external stimulus. Because changes in these muscles are thought to represent positive or negative emotions, it is possible to say that emotions are reflected in facial movements.

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6. Eye Tracking can infer information about the subject’s eye movements, where they look, how long they look, what they think, and how much cognitive effort they expend while doing so. Most eye trackers use corneal reflection (an infrared light source) to locate and track the eye as it moves (e.g. the Tobii eye tracker). The eye is constantly moving between objects of interest in order to form a complete picture of what we’re looking at. Between these movements, the eyes make sharp attacks and then stop between each movement. This process is divided into fixation and saccades. Fixation is defined as the cessation of eye movement in a specific area of the field of view. When the eyes are resting or fixed on a word in the text, for example. Saccades are the type of movement used to move from one fixation point to the next fixation point. For instance, eye jumps from one word in the text to another several times per second. Heat maps, gaze plots, and area of interest (AOI) analysis are all methods for visualizing eye tracking data.


Neuromarketing investigates the purchasing behaviors influenced by emotions in depth and uses neuroscience methods to assess consumers’ emotional states. Thus, it is argued that neuromarketing methods will assist the consumer in determining not only which product they like, but also which product they will purchase. As a result, in order to be effective in purchasing decisions, brands or products, you must establish an emotional bond with the consumer.


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