Your Neurologist Moonlights as a Marketer
By Al Berrios
Forbes and New York Times Magazine have both printed stories about this emerging science, but I'm going to tell you why it's poppycock.
Whether you've heard or not, neuromarketing is being funded by some pretty big marketers in an attempt to get neurologists to understand the workings of the brain as it's experiencing a brand. The science behind this method is so new, no one even knows how to apply it. But basically, whenever you see an ad or have an experience with a brand, different parts of our brains associated with different types of memories and actions light up on the MRI. So, for some reason, cars remind some consumers of faces. Ooooooh. Ground-breaking, you say?
My evaluation is that definitively knowing whether or not your brand elicits some sort of neurological connection or bond with a consumer doesn't mean your consumer will buy it, just that there's a reaction. When neurologists answer the size of our reactions and whether or not these reactions at different levels are necessary to make a purchase, and of course, if these are reactions of hate or love, then they'll be on to something, but until then, I don't feel it's worth the investment.
OK, so we can tell without a doubt that a bond between a consumer and a brand is there. How did it get there? What is the pattern of marketing that this person was exposed to that yielded this bond? Although I'm sure science can study every possible variable to death to try and piece this one together, I'd love to see how they're going to account for generational differences. Unlike evolution of our physiology, our behavior changes every 5 to 10 years, based on what's going on in the world. Looking at a little spark in my brain ain't gonna tell you that.
And let's not forget the agencies, those arbiters of what is and what is not creativity: neuromarketing is affected not just by our needs and wants, but also by the creative platform in which a product is demonstrated for consumers. Remember, creativity is subjective. Each consumers' experience will generate a different response to the same creation. Therefore, with so much potential for variability, do you believe that your ad agency will simply allow their business to be commoditized (even more)? It is not worth the investment.
And finally, do consumers really want marketers to understand the neuroscience involved in why they buy? Imagine you're walking around a department store and you're suddenly overwhelmed with urges to buy jeans you don't like, shirts you don't need, and shoes you wouldn't wear if your life depended on it. Is this really building a relationship with your consumers? How would you feel if you were scientifically forced to buy stuff? Well, take that feeling and call your neuromarketer to tell them how you feel. Draw the line, folks. If you're experiencing bad sales, and your marketing is doing all it can, maybe your product sucks. Fix it and try again. If you don't think it's the product, maybe it's you.
AL BERRIOS & CO. ARTICLES:
> "Creativity is a Commodity: Nepotism and The Perfect Market"
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