The Neuromarketing Revolution: Bringing Science and Technology to Marketing Insight

The Neuromarketing Revolution: Bringing Science and Technology to Marketing Insight

Elissa Moses (BrainGroup Global, USA) and Kimberly Rose Clark (Dartmouth College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3115-0.ch024


This chapter examines the advent of the neuromarketing revolution, which over the past 10 years changed the way market research is conducted worldwide to include nonconscious measures in everyday studies. It required a form of technology transformation as traditional researchers and marketers came to accept that nonconscious response and emotion are critical in driving brand perceptions and behaviors. Moreover, it demanded a steep learning curve for understanding and adopting new types of scientifically driven methodologies such as EEG and Biometrics. Now with experience and extensive research by academics and practitioners, neurometrics are considered of high value for understanding consumer response and of great potential value for improving prediction leveraging AI and machine learning.
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Every once in a great while, a significant sea change occurs in an industry that alters the way it operates universally, impacting ways of doing business and expectations for what can be delivered. Usually the change is driven by a combination of technology breakthroughs and pure science. We have seen this with telecommunications and the introduction of the cell phone, television with the breakthrough of on demand viewing and now marketing and market research with the seismic leap in applying understanding the Neuroscience of brain processing, how to measure emotions and the role they play in consumer decision making.

The game changing phenomenon for marketers and researchers was the discovery that emotion and the nonconsious response patterns are not only significant, but dominating influencers of decision making and behavior. Moreover, the research methods of neuroscientists and behavioral scientists were adaptable to business making the ability to measure emotions and nonconscious response a reality as never before. This budding revolution was enabled by scientific advancements not only in Neuroscience, but also in related fields of Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral Economics, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics.

Hence, over the last 15 years, nonconscious methodologies have emerged to measure consumer response to marketing stimuli and rapidly developed to be vastly improved in terms of ease of use, affordability, speed and scalability. As a result, industry adoption has gone from use by only the most innovative and experimental researchers primarily at large corporations usually designated for experimental or special projects, to widespread usage among the majority of industry market researchers, agencies and vendors. According the industry’s GRIT report, 56% of researchers use nonconscious methods and another 25% are interested in trying them (GreenBook Market Leaders Report, 2019).

Over a short period of time, the field of Neuromarketing, applied neuroscience for understanding and predicting consumer response, has gone from being a questionable interloper, to an academic and commercial discipline of great interest and high expectations. Business has joined forces with academics to bring a superior understanding of the drivers of consumer decision making and behavior and how to apply these insights for optimized marketing offers.

This chapter provides an overview of the field’s rapidly evolving history, key methods adopted, examples of organizational integration models for traditional and nonconscious measures in brand research, seminal studies in academia and corporate research and a discussion of the field’s continued bright trajectory.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Emotion: A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.

Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA): Global organization aimed to increase awareness and utility of applied neuroscience across various commercial sectors.

ISDN: Interdisciplinary symposia for decision neuroscience.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases.

Stand-Off Measures: Measures captured from the consumer without having to physically touch the individual’s person. Examples of stand-off measures include video and thermal cameras.

Haptics: The use of technology that stimulates the senses of touch and motion, especially to reproduce in remote operation or computer simulation the sensations that would be felt by a user interacting directly with physical objects.

Somatic Marker Hypothesis: Feelings in the body that are associated with emotions, such as the association of rapid heartbeat with anxiety or of nausea with disgust that strongly influence subsequent decision-making.

Thermal Imaging: The technique of using the heat given off by an object to produce an image of it, or to locate it, or to detect changes in health or emotion associated with a given stimulus.

Psychonomics: The science of the laws relating the mind to the organism's internal and external environment.

Facial Action Unit Coding (FACs): FACs refers to a set of facial muscle movements that correspond to a displayed emotion.

Decision Making: The ability to make choices in certain and uncertain conditions.

Judgements: The ability to generate estimates (guesses) regarding magnitudes and probabilities.

Skin Conductance (Galvanic Skin Response): The psychophysiological phenomenon that the skin momentarily becomes a better conductor of electricity when either external or internal stimuli occur that are physiologically arousing.

Consumer Neuroscience: Is the combination of consumer research with modern neuroscience. The goal of the field is to find neural explanations for consumer behaviors. Unlike traditional market measures which rely on conscious recall of past experience or deliberative beliefs regarding future behaviors, consumer neuroscience relies on in-moment measures of central and peripheral nervous system processes that often occur outside of conscious awareness.

Implicit Association Task (IAT): Is a measure within social psychology designed to detect the strength of a person's subconscious association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory on the basis of response time.

Cognitive Neuroscience: The scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes.

Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS): Is a non-invasive imaging method involving the quantification of chromophore concentration resolved from the measurement of near infrared (NIR) light attenuation or temporal or phasic changes.

Crowd Sourced Data: Data simultaneously collected across a group of individuals.

Sentiment Analysis: The process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text, especially in order to determine positive, negative, or neutral attitudes associated with test element.

Facial Electromyography (fEMG): Facial EMG refers to an electromyography (EMG) technique that measures muscle activity by detecting and amplifying the tiny electrical impulses that are generated by muscle fibers on the face when they contract and relax.

Electroencephalography (EEG): EEG is a test used to evaluate the electrical activity in the brain. An EEG tracks and records brain wave patterns that are highly time locked to a stimulus.

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