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Neuromarketing: Advanced methods to understand the B2B mindset

I recently attended the 2015 Cleveland AMA Market Research Conference, which allowed me to nerd out for an entire day with market research professionals like myself.

While all speakers shared tales of discovery and victory using their deductive reasoning skills and ingenuity, no one impressed me quite like Kathleen Kennedy.

Kennedy is the research labs director at the Suarez Applied Marketing Research Lab at the University of Akron where she works to develop improved techniques for market research that incorporate biometric and neurological measures.

A fascinating and captivating speaker, Kennedy left quite an impression on me. For one (very short) hour, she discussed the finer points of neuromarketing: an ever-changing science in the marketing industry.

Neuromarketing, which is a form of research that studies consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive and affective response to marketing stimuli, is thought to be the next generation of market research and the most accurate way to collect and assess insights from customers. The goal of employing neuromarketing as a research technique is to understand customer behavior and develop the ability to predict future purchase decisions.

While there are many methods for conducting neuromarketing research, three approaches are most commonly used:

  1. EEG (electroencephalogram) - measures electrical activity in the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp and using images, sounds etc. to stimulate brain activity. This method is thought to be the most effective and is used most often.
  2. Biometric Testing - allows a researcher to analyze galvanic skin response, blood volume pulse, respiration and facial coding. Facial coding is not used on a consistent basis though, because it is known to be unreliable.
  3. Eye Movement Tracking - maps the path the eyes take when viewing an image or scenario. This technique is usually accompanied by tracking the subject’s posture and head/facial movements.

The idea that we can gather so much information from someone without ever asking them a question is quite intriguing. Measuring emotion using the aforementioned techniques allows for deep insight into a customer’s purchase intent, perception of value, important product features, pricing and brand reputation, just to name a few. In addition to giving us an array of information, it can also solve for a number of problems that exist in traditional market research techniques.

For example, people are not able to accurately and honestly express themselves when asked questions verbally. Much of the time, customers are unwilling or unable to effectively communicate how they feel on a moment-to-moment basis. It is nearly impossible for them to recall specific emotions, much less to identify what they felt in the first place. Additionally, questionnaires can be extraordinarily time-consuming, especially when content and wording is debated.

Neuromarketing allows us to gain greater and more accurate insights by monitoring brain activity. However, it is also recommended that before and after surveys are still used in most neuromarketing techniques to compare what customers say versus what they feel.

As a B2B customer engagement agency, we believe neuromarketing techniques allow researchers to better focus on maintaining alignment with a client’s business goals and thinking strategically about the implications for future marketing campaigns. We look forward to this approach gaining increased adoption in the B2B sector.

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