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Innovation

Neuroimaging: The future of marketing?

With the interest in neuromarketing growing in the media and the scientific community, two researchers sought to uncover whether the trend was worth the hype.

With the interest in neuromarketing -- the study of consumers' cognitive response to stimuli -- growing in the media and the scientific community, two researchers sought to uncover whether the trend was worth the hype. (The few previous studies conducted had produced evidence suggesting neuroimaging could benefit the marketing field.)

In their recent perspective paper in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Dan Ariely of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University and Gregory S. Berns of Emory University's department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences found a mix of hype and hope for neuromarketing. Through a series of examples, including food and beverage advertising, the marketing of entertainment and even the campaigns of political candidates, the researchers outlined the various implications of neuromarketing.

The hype: That neuroimaging would be a cheaper alternative to traditional marketing tools. The researchers expect cost benefits to be unlikely.

The hope: "That neuroimaging will soon be able to reveal hidden information about consumer preferences," the authors wrote. "Although this information could boost post design sales efforts, we think that the real pay-off will come during the design process."

The authors wrapped up their findings this way:

We return to the opening question: hope or hype? It is too early to tell but, optimists as we are, we think that there is much that neuromarketing can contribute to the interface between people and businesses and in doing so foster a more human-compatible design of the products around us. At the same time, neuromarketing as an enterprise runs the risk of quickly becoming yesterday's fad... If we take neuromarketing as the examination of the neural activities that underlie the daily activities related to people, products and marketing, this could become a useful and interesting path for academic research and at the same time provide useful inputs to marketers.

Photo: PET scan of a normal human brain / U.S. National Institute on Aging

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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