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NEURO-MARKETING: Awakening the Subconscious



Ever wondered that why we are so religiously loyal to some brands? Or why one brand is always preferred over the other, even if both are perfect substitutes of each other? A sensational breakthrough in the field of marketing coined as ‘Neuro-marketing’ has all the answers to unlock the mysterious brain of the consumers for the marketers. With the help of this new technology, marketers now can directly tap into the ‘Pleasure Center’ of the consumers and hence ensuring consumer loyalty towards their brands.

“People are fairly good at expressing what they want, what they like, or even how much they will pay for an item,” says Uma R. Karmarkar, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who sports PhDs in both marketing and neuroscience. “But they aren’t very good at accessing where that value comes from, or how and when it is influenced by factors like store displays or brands. [Neuroscience] can help us understand those hidden elements of the decision process.”

The neuro-marketing technology is based on a model whereby the major thinking part of human activity (over 90%) occurs in the subconscious area that is below the levels of controlled awareness. For this reason, the perception technologists of the market are very tempted to learn the techniques of effective manipulation of the subconscious brain activity. The main reason is to inspire the desired reaction in person’s perception as deeply as possible. Meme, which is indeed the backbone of neuroscience, is a unit of information stored in the brain which within 2.6 seconds can influence a customer’s preferences and choices. If a marketer is able to successfully implant an influential meme into his customers’ brain, then he can has won their loyalty for life.
For example: A test in a casino revealed that people gambled 45% more money when a pleasant sent (triggering a meme) was introduced in the area.

Another study was conducted which proved the vital role cognition plays whenever a purchase decision is executed by a customer. In that study, 67 people had their brains scanned before taking a blind taste test of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Half the subjects chose Pepsi, since Pepsi tended to produce a stronger response than Coke in their brains. But when the subjects were told they were drinking Coke three-quarters said that Coke tasted better. Their brain activity had also changed. The results demonstrated that Pepsi should have half the market share, but in reality consumers are buying Coke for reasons related less to their taste preferences and more to their experience with the Coke brand. Therefore the consumer’s perceptions and notions play a major role whenever he decides to buy any brand and neuro-marketing is a major aide in this regard for the marketers.


Neuro-marketing research removes subjectivity and ambiguity by going right to measuring observable brain behavior. Some of the top MNCs have already switched to neuro-marketing include:

Microsoft invested on R&D in neuro-marketing to understand users’ interactions with computers including their feelings. Frito-Lay has been studying female brains to learn how to better appeal to women.

From judging the lucrativeness of a new product idea or planning the entire marketing mix, neuromarketing lays down yardsticks that help a marketer to prepare his promote his product in a more effective manner in the target market. But no matter how revolutionary this technology sounds, certain criticisms have been raised that question its feasibility. Firstly, the responsiveness of a consumer’s brain in a lab may not be just like his brain behavior in the mall where the buying decision is actually executed. Secondly, the cost of conducting these studies is huge and hence can be employed only by big corporates. And lastly, due to the customer buying process being lengthy and involving many people in the B2B arena, this technology has not proved to be very effective there.


Inspite of all the allegations that have been raised, there have been favourable arguments in support of neuro-marketing stating that such innovations actually benefit the society at large. Such science will definitely grow and used by more and more in future provided that it is innovated continuously so that the conclusions drawn in the lab do hold relevance in the real life situations.



Picture Credits- Google images
By Vaibhav Agarwal


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