The skinny on neuromarketing

Robin Emiliani  /  Sep 13, 2021

Here’s your headscratcher of a fact for the week: People don’t know what we want.

Just ask Coke. They put thousands of hours into sip tests, listened to feedback, and then—et voila!—unveiled New Coke! It was better than old Coke! It was better than Pepsi!

And it failed spectacularly.

Because people don’t know what we want. Taste tests, customer surveys, round tables…they can only take us so far as marketers. Because the truth is that most decision-making comes from our guts, not our rationale.

This is where neuromarketing comes in…

What is it?

Neuromarketing is all about emotional resonance. It takes marketing data and neuroscience insights and mashes them together to help you understand the neurochemical and physiological reactions of your audience.

The idea here is a simple one: our traditional ways of measuring content success aren’t enough. Page     views, bounce rates, new visitor counts, even round tables—these things don’t really tell us whether our target audiences care about what we’re doing. They don’t tell us if they’re going to buy. They can’t even tell us if      the pageviews are coming from a real-life human or a bot.

If you want to go deeper with your audiences, you need to understand their reactions to your content.

When TV networks used neuromarketing to try and predict which shows would take off, the accuracy was a whopping 84%. Compare that to self-reports from the study’s participants (which only predicted 17% of the top-rated shows), and you can see why this new way of      judging content resonance is raising our eyebrows.

How do they measure resonance, though?

Companies like Immersion Neuroscience are using smartwatches to measure oxytocin via the Vagus nerve. This means real-time data on how people’s bodies are reacting to your marketing.

There are other ways neuromarketing is measured too, including fMRI, EEG, and facial coding. In every case, our bodies tell the story of what resonates with us.

Feels a little sci-fi in the best possible way.

Subtle things influence us all the time

In a study highlighted in Terry Wu’s TEDx talk, we learned that a wine store changed its music and tracked how that impacted wine sales.

Their findings? When they played German music, German wines sold 3x as much as French wines. When they played French music, the opposite was true. And (importantly) when they asked consumers if the music impacted their buying decisions, 90% said no.

The big takeaways here are pretty clear: small things influence our buying decisions, and we are not aware of them.

Which is why the new studies on neuromarketing are turning traditional thought on its head. Consumers aren’t great at predicting our behavior and where it comes from. But our bodies know what’s up. And when marketers have access to that data—where our eyes go, which parts of our brains light up, when our pulse races—we can start to parse out what people really react to in our content, on our shelves, and in the background music of our stores.

So, what should you do with this info?

Neuromarketing can help us tell better stories, understand what to cut from our ads, improve our events, and build better websites and ad campaigns. And, as we saw with the studies above, it also predicts engagement with much higher accuracy than customers themselves.

So, the bottom line is: if you aren’t already thinking about neuromarketing, it’s time. Time to explore options like Immersion Neuroscience. Time to lean in on eye-tracking studies. And time to bring in your friendly neighborhood agency to help.

We’d love to help you harness the power of predictive neuromarketing. Reach out anytime.


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