The Contributions of Neuromarketing in Marketing Research: Consumer Behavior

A multitude of companies worldwide have hired neuromarketing agencies to conduct intelligent studies for the purpose of discovering consumers’ underpinnings of buying decisions. A significant neuromarketing study conducted by Daimler Chrysler in 2002 granted a better understanding of people’s reactions to cars. The subjects were shown different images of car grilles. It was later discovered that a division in the respondents’ brains called the fusiform face area, or the portion of the temporal lobe that enables facial recognition, was highly active. Researchers subsequently hypothesized that the main motive behind the outstanding sales of BMW’s Mini Cooper was, at least subconsciously, its adorable design. The study’s findings have also demonstrated that pictures of high-performance cars such as the Ferrari 360 Modena and the BMW Z8 have excited some brain areas related to the concepts of wealth and social power. Such findings have provided the company with pure and absolute emotional responses that no focus group or survey could ever reveal. According to Lindstrom, neuromarketing studies display unexpected results confirming that people do not always know what lies beneath their unconscious minds. For example, a study conducted by Lindstrom detected that warning pictures on cigarette packages do not prevent people from buying cigarettes, yet it provokes some parts of the brain to light up a cigarette. But when respondents were asked to recall the negative consequences of cigarette consumption in the long term in a study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, subjects reduced their craving for smoking. Brain scans showed an increased motion in the region responsible for goals setting, planning, and controlling behavior (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), which in turn inhibited the ventral striatum, the part of the reward pathway that generates craving. Business Process

Similarly, Lindstrom’s conclusions proved that people do not always say what they want nor explicitly what they really mean, since some fMRI scanning pictures revealed that people do like television shows although they confirmed a priori that they do not like them at all. The American company – No Lie MRI reported that the current accuracy of fMRI and other similar scanning techniques are over 90% and can even attain 99% accuracy once product
development is complete. Similarly, another fMRI experiment examining consumers’ behavioral response to wines revealed an intensification of consumers’ neural activity and pleasantness when tasting the most expensive wine even though in reality all tested wines were the same (Garcia & Saad, 2008). Hence, the study affirmed that price recognition has a direct impact on consumers’ behavioral response, since the higher the price, the more positive the behavioral response toward wine quality.
The Hollywood film industry has also benefited from the use of neuromarketing through the emergence of neurocinema. Ale Smidts, a Dutch marketing expert, coined the term neurocinema and predicted its future intensity and popularity. Several years later, Lacey defined neurocinema as an offshoot of neuromarketing. A year before Avatar hit screens worldwide, James Cameron asserted that fMRI machines demonstrated that more neurons were active while watching his film in 3-D than while watching it in a conventional form. This offshoot of neuromarketing got intensive mass media attention, and the San Diego-based firm MindSign Neuromarketing was the first neuromarketing firm to create a revolution in this industry through the use of fMRI to test and track the impact of scenes and analyze significant activity on the prospect’s brain. MindSign’s efforts in this segment of neuromarketing were rapidly spread out by mass media including CNN, National Public Radio, Science Channel, and Wired magazine when they offered free services including fMRI brain scans of subjects exposed to Avatar trailers. Neurocinema is truly one of the fascinating branches of neuromarketing that has proved profitable for business, manifestly for Avatar.