December 6, 2022


Immortalizing Ideas

When it comes to marketing it’s all in our heads

What have brands like Hyundai, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, H&M, Microsoft, Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola got in common?

hey have all used neuromarketing techniques to get inside people’s heads to find out what they are thinking. The need-to-know what people want and what they may or may not buy, sits at the very heart of modern marketing.

But how can marketers know what their customers really want when the truth is they don’t really know themselves?

One of the answers seems to lie in neuromarketing, the study of why consumers actually make the decisions they do. Neuromarketing, also known as consumer neuroscience, refers to the measurements of physiological and neural signals to gain insights into customers’ motivations, preferences and decisions.

In a nutshell, neuromarketing can involve a number of measurement tools and techniques that track what people are actually thinking, rather than what they are saying. These tools measure brain activity using things like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), steady state topography (SST), electroencephalogy (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR) and eye-tracking.

It is generally accepted that the average brain expends only 2pc of its energy on conscious activity, with the rest devoted largely to unconscious processing.

The applications of neuromarketing are numerous. It can be used in research to find out what a particular audience thinks about a brand’s products, advertisements or marketing messaging. It can help brands market these products and services more efficiently by targeting the areas of the brain that will produce the desired response in the demographic group that is being targeted. It can help companies redesign products that aren’t working by market testing them on the human brain in real-time.

There’s no shortage of academic research highlighting the power of neuro marketing while you could fill a small library with weighty tomes from authors like Norman Doidge, Martin Lindstrom, David Owens, Erik du Plessis, Nir Eyal, Steven Pinker and of course David Lewis, who is often referred to as the godfather of neuro marketing.

Although neuromarketing really only became popular in the 1990s, there is now plenty of empirical evidence to underpin its efficacy and many of the learnings have also permeated into the wider field psychology of behavioural economics.

Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow, for example, popularised the concepts of how the brain actually works by creating what he called the System 1 and System 2 ways of thinking.

Lindstrom contends that roughly 90pc of our consumer buying behaviour is unconscious, and we can’t actually explain our preferences, or likely buying decisions, with any accuracy.

Market research surveys and customer questionnaires, he argued, were of dubious value because often people really didn’t know what they wanted. Needless to say, market research companies would disagree. In fact many market research companies have also embraced forms of neuromarketing while they were among the biggest investors in the early days of neuromarketing. 

Of course neuromarketing is not without its critics. Certain watchdog groups and consumer advocates, particularly in the USA, have claimed neuromarketers are exploiting people.

What goes on inside people’s heads, perhaps should stay there. In the digital age where people can be targeted online to within an inch of their lives, it’s easy to see why people might be concerned.

So long as brands use it ethically and for the right reasons, it is unlikely to fall foul of regulators. 

When it comes to the realm of politics and political messaging, however, we probably should have reasons for concern given what we have learned from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal in the run up to the 2016 Presidential Election in the USA. If in some dystopian future neuromarketing is ever used to create more effective propaganda and manipulate people’s democratic right to free thought and free speech, then we are all going to hell in a hand-cart.


Brady Family Ham is a client of Bloom. Photo: Fennell Photography

Blooming good MD

Sinéad Boyle has been appointed as managing director of the Dublin-based creative agency Bloom.

With over 15 years’ experience in the advertising world, she previously worked for ICAN and eightytwenty.

She joined Bloom as an account director in 2014 and was appointed as head of client services in 2017.

Clients of Bloom include Brady Family Ham, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, Citroën and Catch Chocolate among others.


Dunnes has launched a price promotion

Dunnes goes all out

With fierce competition in the Irish retail market showing no signs of abating any time soon, Dunnes Stores has launched a major campaign to highlight its “Double Savers” promotion.

Called “Shrink Your Bill” the new advertising campaign was created by The Public House and is running across TV, VOD, radio, OOH, social and digital.

The media for the campaign is being planned and bought by Carat.