Neuromarketing – Coke/Pepsi, Girls in Red Dresses, and Cheap Wine
So…neuromarketing, eh? Now why would you want to talk about neuro – ugh – marketing? I mean, you’re not getting laid talking about neuromarketing at a party. Unless you’re Justin Timberlake, trying to mellow your hotness down for Earth people.
But hey, we’re funny people with way too much time. And when psychologists have too much time on their hands, they do their favorite thing – they scan brains, attach electrodes to the body, and make people drink Coke, choose handbags, eat the odd cookie, and see how their brains get all fired up. The key here is to study the brain and physiological patterns as a result of our decision-making. That’s neuromarketing, in case you didn’t see that coming.
The formal definition (if you care), of neuromarketing, is as follows – “Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience to marketing. Neuromarketing includes the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technology to measure a subject’s response to specific products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing elements.”
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But Akanksha, what are brain scans and how do you measure brain activity?” That’s what you’re thinking, aren’t you? Well, being the nightingale of knowledge and light that I am, (bow, bow, woof), I shall enlighten you.
Basically, brain scans happen when they put your head (still attached to the rest of your body) into an MRI machine, which creates 3D pictures of your brain and the blood flow in your brain. Fun stuff. They also measure your heart rate, the electrical conduction in your skin, your pupil dilation, etc. to ‘measure’ how you’re feeling. Scientists use external stimulus such as a product to figure out what the external stimulus is doing to your wobbly brain and body.
Now if you survived reading it till here, might as well read further. Or you could really get a life. Anyway, science-y part over. Business-y part starts.
In 2014 alone, $545.40 BILLION were spent on marketing and advertising worldwide. Whoopsie! That’s got to be some hole in the pocket. So when the big men in their big chairs (the cool, revolving ones) figure out that conventional methods like surveys, self-reports and interviews are shitty ways of predicting consumer response to products, they call up the science people and the psych nerds (like me. How dare you call me a nerd!). Conventional methods depend on consumers and their willingness and competency to describe how they feel when exposed to an advertisement (Morin, 2011).
Now people, in general, are idiots (citation needed). So neuromarketing gives us cutting edge methods for directly unveiling what goes on in the ‘black box’ of the human brain without requiring cognitive or conscious participation.
You would think we know what products we buy and consume and how we like them. How cute of you to think that. Not really. What some famous brain scan studies have shown is that we like the memories and notions attached to a product more than the product itself. Uh what? Okay so, they say we depend on our Reptilian brain more than our human brain. Uh. Okay so I can feel the slimy scales rising on my skin already! This Reptilian brain is actually the subconscious part of the brain that majors in all the fun things, pleasure, sex, food and drives us towards preferring mental shortcuts rather than deliberately thought of rational decisions (Morin, 2011). Weeeeee!
Coke, Pepsi and Why People Are Dumb
Quick question. Which one do you like more – Coke or Pepsi? Another quick question – can you really, honest to God, tell the difference between the two? If you can, good for you, you lying bastard. Because most people can’t. And so in the 80s was born the Pepsi Challenge – a blind taste test where people were made to sip Coke and Pepsi both without knowing which is which, and then select one. When they didn’t know which was which, half the consumers preferred the sweeter taste of Pepsi. But in a second taste test where the brands were revealed, people overwhelmingly preferred Coke. Why? We think we like Coke better, so our brain, stimulated by that emotion and memory, makes us like Coke better. Brands matter, even if we think we’re above them. We’re not. We’re stupid.
Also, for all you fancy people living in mansions and swearing by high-end Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, consider this. In a blind taste test conducted among 600 people where they were given an option between expensive wines and cheap stuff you buy from 7/11, only 53% of the people could identify the wines that your butler Duckworth would bring to you from the swill you could clean your toilet with.
Think you find that girl in the red dress hot because of her looks, or because of what scientists literally call the Red Dress Effect? That’s neuromarketing for you. BAM!