Today, marketing is no longer content to offer “the right product, in the right place and at the right time”. For a long time, companies have dreamed of better understanding consumer behavior. Little by little, marketing tends towards the sophistication of the methods of incentive to the purchase, following the example of the sensory marketing or the experience of consumption.
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The concept of “neuromarketing” appeared in the early 2000s. It followed research conducted by Read Montague, a neurologist at a Texas university. Montague was interested in the impact of brand messages on the brain. These studies then mark the beginning of neuromarketing.
What is Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing refers to the application of cognitive neuroscience to marketing. It aims to understand the brain operations involved in consumer behavior. This allows companies to define what attracts consumers the most, what they retain from advertisements and what elicits emotions.
Why use neuromarketing?
To carry out specific studies
The first advantage of neuromarketing is the accuracy of the data collected. Market research can be inaccurate due to differences between a consumer’s responses and their actual actions, for example. Neuromarketing makes it possible to know in a much more precise way (because using scientific tools) which slogan makes the consumer react, or which image creates an emotion.
To understand the unconscious of consumers
During a classic market study, the consumer can only talk about what he is aware of. Neuromarketing makes it possible to measure unconscious reactions such as the order in which a person observes the elements of an image or the level of attention of a person confronted with information. Understanding the unconscious reactions of consumers represents a considerable advantage in marketing.
How does neuromarketing work?
Neuromarketing analyzes the behavior of consumers from a scientific angle, in real situations or not. It is based for this on four essential pillars: attention, memorization, emotion and intensity.
With the understanding of attention
I’eye tracking refers to the study of ocular behavior. This technique studies the paths, the fixation points as well as its duration within a panel, when the eye performs a defined action. Experts can thus analyze the effectiveness of packaging, the reading of advertisements or the reading of digital elements. Integrated into the computer, cameras are responsible for analyzing these movements.
Applied to e-commerce, this technology makes it possible to identify areas that attract the user’s attention and those that are neglected. The webmaster can then learn from it to improve the site’s interface and make it more attractive.
A study by Single Grain in collaboration with Crazyegg shows that users proceed with an F-scan. In concrete terms, this means, for example, that the logo must appear at the top left, that important content must be integrated on the left of the page or even that it is useless to load the pages in text, because the e-customers do not consult all of them.
With the understanding of emotion and memorization
Through theMRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), the activity of the different areas of the brain is brought to light thanks to the oxygen content of the blood circulating there.
I’EEG (Electroencephalogram), meanwhile, measures the activity of neurons. This modifies the electric field around the scalp, which makes it possible to identify the advertising elements retained and those creating an emotion.
This technology proves that decision-making, memorization and consumer preference stem from unconscious or inexpressible processes during questionnaires.
The most popular brands then do well. When the memory is activated during a preference test, consumers prefer the product of the best known brand (test carried out by opposing Coca-Cola to Pepsi by Montague and McClure in 2004).
With the understanding of the effervescence
On the one hand, electrodermal activity is interested in microtranspiration. Emotional engagement is recognized by increased perspiration (without positive or negative differentiation of emotion). On the other hand, the researchers found that the cardiac frequency slowed as consumer attention increased.
These indications represent a real challenge for the launch of new products or services. Behind the scenes, brands test their advertisements and keep only those that generate the strongest reactions within the panel.
3 examples of using neuromarketing
Many companies are already using neuromarketing to refine their message and adjust their strategy, both on their digital media and in their physical approach.
Fnac and its method for valuing promotions and inventory
Fnac is a large brand dividing its commercial activity into two segments: cultural products (books, manga, comics, CDs and other vinyls) and technical products (computers, video games, audio, telephony or even TV).
To sell better, the brand uses the principles of neuromarketing. For example, to encourage Internet users to make a purchase, the mention “Only 2 in stock” sometimes appears next to certain products.
When the brand offers flash sales on its site, it dresses its promotions in orange, the color associated with the feeling of speed. The goal is to create a sense of urgency in the consumer: he must quickly make the purchase before the reduction disappears.
In the book Perspectives on the Use of New Information and Communication Technologyauthors Elena G. Popkova and Victoria N. Ostrovskaya demonstrate that the famous German car brand sought to create a sense of empathy and sympathy among its customers.
To do this, the sign has worked the models of its cars so that they resemble a human face. The result of this initiative proved him right: Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 12%.
When oui.sncf was still called voyages-sncf.com, the brand sometimes used MRI on Belgian consumers.
Yves Tyrode, then director of this branch of the SNCF, explains to France Télévisions, for the program Cash Investigation, that these tests were carried out with the different profiles that make up his clientele.
The former director “confessed” to using neuromarketing to ensure that his clients perceived the website’s changes in a positive light.
Ethical marketing: the limits of neuromarketing
An alternative to traditional marketing methods, “too” known to consumers, neuromarketing imposes significant risk-taking for the company. Indeed, this practice is perceived by some consumers as manipulation. Ethical marketing is an unavoidable issue today, and it is important to pay attention to it if you embark on neuromarketing. Explanations.
Instrumentalization and invasion of privacy
The examples cited above demonstrate that neuromarketing can be used to influence the minds, emotions and feelings of individuals, for the sole purpose of receiving financial compensation. If this form of instrumentalization is authorized to a certain extent, it nevertheless remains very controversial.
The question of privacy arises, and even with the consent of the interviewee, the physical integrity can be considered as compromised, just like that of the rest of the consumers. This remains difficult to regulate legally, even if certain rules already risk it.
Legal constraints in France
Companies that use neuromarketing in foreign countries insist on the “experimental” aspect of their practice. In France, according to article 16-14 of the Civil Code, the use of scanners and MRIs for commercial purposes is prohibited.
The limited nature of these practices
Brands cannot forget that this kind of experimentation necessarily involves a certain number of biases. In real conditions, they cannot control all the factors involved in decision-making.
Impulse purchases demonstrate that the unforeseen and the unconscious also play a role, and that this still eludes these tests.
Finally, consumers rarely appreciate knowing that brands are manipulating them. The “tester” company therefore risks having a bad image with them.
As a result, some technologies attempt to address these issues. This is particularly the case of voice analyzer or portable EEGs.
The key in all marketing activities is to work not only in compliance with applicable laws, but also in the interests of transparency and benevolence. Indeed, consumers will be more inclined to participate in tests if they allow the improvement of your company’s content, products or services.
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