John Lovett [Posted by John Lovett]

Follow Me on Bird

So I was sitting on the beach with my family recently when one of those planes trailing a banner passed overhead. I didn’t think too much of it, but noticed that the banner advertised insurance products and featured that cute little gecko. My four year old son however, stopped playing in the sand for a few moments and looked up at the airplane. As it passed, he said aloud (more to himself than to anyone else) “Geico” and then went back to his sand castle. My wife and I looked at each other and laughed because our boy cannot yet read, but clearly the power of advertising created an indelible impression on our young son.

This event caused me to think about marketing and customer intelligence – but more specifically… How would this brand would leverage the fact that a four year old maintains an acute awareness of its existence, which is likely to remain tucked away somewhere in his consciousness?

Enter Neuromarketing. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, tune into the recent 60 Minutes segment, where Leslie Stahl reports on the fMRI process.

It involves detecting cerebral response to imagery, messages or bluntly speaking – the effects of marketing on human senses. According to 60 Minutes interviewee, Paul Root Wolpe, the Director for the Center For Ethics at Emery University, he believes that there is no science fiction anymore because nearly anything is possible. He goes on to say that throughout history coercion tactics such as torture and persuasion don’t work – and scientists are now attempting to resolve this problem through Neuromarketing. It may occur at the state level or in private practice, but these capabilities are available now. Sounds scary doesn’t it? Before your thoughts meander to the devious possibilities, let’s shift gears to examine how this emerging science can impact digital marketing on a more honest and benign level.

Major global brands such as Unilever, Intel, McDonald’s and Proctor & Gamble are currently using Neuromarketing tactics to understand the way that consumers react to – and interact with – their organizations. Author and world-traveling marketer, Martin Lindstrom wrote a book on the topic called Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. In his research he uncovered some startling evidence of how humans react to brands and brand related imagery. For example, he discovered that Tiffany’s branded color of blue actually stimulates the hearbeat rates among women by up to 22%. Or more startling – he discovered that the more graphic and horrific the warning images displayed on cigarette packages were, the stronger the cravings they generated among smokers. This is both appalling and fascinating at the same time. Yet, throughout his research, he illustrates that customer behavior – while seemingly erratic can be attributed to specific responses derived from the brain. Moreover, marketers who understand these cerebral responses can generate instinctual reactions, sometimes compelling the desire to buy, thus improving their marketing effectiveness. 

These findings and the science of Neuromarketing are coming into play within many marketing programs today. Yet, before you go install fMRI scanners in your POS systems, consider the power of your brand and how you are mining Customer Intelligence from the data that you currently posses regarding your customer’s behavior. Neuromarketing is an inevitable technology that marketers will use to sell consumers more goods. Is it on your roadmap?