Consumer Neuroscience vs. Skepticism: An Inside Look at the Challenges of a Novel Field
|Neuromarketing image courtesy of flickr user cmcbrown
|Our brains respond to advertisements, image
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Von Der Heide (VDH): There is a lot of variation in the way these terms are applied. I frequently hear them used interchangeably by academic and business colleagues as well clients – often with little differentiation. From an academic perspective, I have read arguments for potential points of differentiation, but there seems to be no general consensus. One point of differentiation that does seem meaningful is that “neuromarketing” implies the practice of marketing informed by neuroscience, whereas “consumer neuroscience” implies research on consumers using neuroscience methods (rather than practice). In addition, my personal view is that the term consumer neuroscience most explicitly captures the consumer research I am involved in on a daily basis. As a relatively young field of study, the term ‘neuromarketing’ has had a bit of an unfortunate history in that it has not always been associated with a demand for high-quality scientific research. The term “consumer neuroscience”, on the other hand, explicitly emphasizes the fact that my primary responsibility along with the other 19+ Ph.D. and/or M.D. level neuroscientists in my company is to design and implement scientifically grounded neuroscience studies that lead to insightful results.
|Traditional methods used in advertising include focus groups,
image courtesy of Articulos Comundo
The notion that the technology used in consumer neuroscience can “read people’s minds” or “control their thoughts” is a misconception. Brain activity is measured and analyzed to understand how consumers are responding at a level that can’t be captured by traditional methods (surveys, focus groups, etc.) or articulated by consumers when they are asked about it. A primary goal of this approach (as it is also with other traditional research methods) is to get a better understanding of how brands can clearly engage and communicate to consumers and what obstacles might be preventing that connection from being effective. The goal is not to mislead consumers and neither the technology being used or the application of the results from this technology strips consumers of their free will or results in the mind-control.
Fisher, Carl Erik, Chin, Lisa, Klitzman MD. 2010. Defining Neuromarketing: Practices and Professional Challenges.Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 18(4), 230-237.
Levy, Neil. 2009. Neuromarketing: Ethical and Political Challenges, Ethics & Politics XI, 2, 10-17.
Trabulsi, Julia, Manuel
Garcia-Garcia, and Michael E Smith. “Consumer neuroscience: A method for
optimising marketing communication.” Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy 1.1 (2015): 80-89.
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Diallo, I.E. (2016). Consumer Neuroscience vs. Skepticism: An Inside Look at the Challenges of a Novel Field. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on , from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2016/01/consumer-neuroscience-vs-skepticism.html