Fuente: Harvard
Autor: Eben Harrell

Nobel Laureate Francis Crick called it the astonishing hypothesis: the idea that all human feelings, thoughts, and actions—even consciousness itself—are just the products of neural activity in the brain. For marketers the promise of this idea is that neurobiology can reduce the uncertainty and conjecture that traditionally hamper efforts to understand consumer behavior. The field of neuromarketing—sometimes known as consumer neuroscience—studies the brain to predict and potentially even manipulate consumer behavior and decision making. Until recently considered an extravagant “frontier science,” neuromarketing has been bolstered over the past five years by several groundbreaking studies that demonstrate its potential to create value for marketers.

But even as the validity of neuromarketing becomes established, marketers still struggle with it: Is it worth the investment? What tools are most useful? How can it be done well? To answer these questions, marketers need to understand the range of techniques involved, how they are being used in both academia and industry, and what possibilities they hold for the future.

The Tools of Neuromarketing
“Neuromarketing” loosely refers to the measurement of physiological and neural signals to gain insight into customers’ motivations, preferences, and decisions, which can help inform creative advertising, product development, pricing, and other marketing areas. Brain scanning, which measures neural activity, and physiological tracking, which measures eye movement and other proxies for that activity, are the most common methods of measurement.

The two primary tools for scanning the brain are fMRI and EEG. The former (functional magnetic resonance imaging) uses strong magnetic fields to track changes in blood flow across the brain and is administered while a person lies inside a machine that takes continuous measurements over time. An EEG (electroencephalogram) reads brain-cell activity using sensors placed on the subject’s scalp; it can track changes in activity over fractions of a second, but it does a poor job of pinpointing exactly where the activity occurs or measuring it in deep, subcortical regions of the brain (where a lot of interesting activity takes place). An fMRI can peer deep into the brain but is cumbersome, and it tracks activity only over the course of several seconds, which may miss fleeting neural incidents. (Moreover, fMRI machines are many times more expensive than EEG equipment, typically costing about $5 million with high overhead, versus about $20,000.)

Tools for measuring the physiological proxies for brain activity tend to be more affordable and easier to use. Eye tracking can measure attention (via the eyes’ fixation points) and arousal (via pupil dilation); facial-expression coding (reading the minute movement of muscles in the face) can measure emotional responses; and heart rate, respiration rate, and skin conductivity measure arousal.

Interest in consumer neuroscience took off in the mid-2000s, when business school researchers started to demonstrate that advertising, branding, and other marketing tactics can have measurable impacts on the brain. In 2004 researchers at Emory University served Coca-Cola and Pepsi to subjects in an fMRI machine. When the drinks weren’t identified, the researchers noted a consistent neural response. But when subjects could see the brand, their limbic structures (brain areas associated with emotions, memories, and unconscious processing) showed enhanced activity, demonstrating that knowledge of the brand altered how the brain perceived the beverage. Four years later a team led by INSEAD’s Hilke Plassmann scanned the brains of test subjects as they tasted three wines with different prices; their brains registered the wines differently, with neural signatures indicating a preference for the most expensive wine. In actuality, all three wines were the same. In another academic study fMRI revealed that when consumers see a price may change their mental calculation of value: When price was displayed before exposure to the product, the neural data differed from when it was displayed after exposure, suggesting two different mental calculations: “Is this product worth the price?” when the price came first, and “Do I like this product?” when the product came first.

Fading Pessimism

Despite these promising academic findings, marketers have been slow to use EEG and fMRI devices. In a survey of individuals from 64 neuromarketing firms, for example, only 31% reported using fMRI machines. “I know of three or four vendors who have made fMRI their main service offering, and they’ve all failed,” says Carl Marci, the chief neuroscientist at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.

This reluctance is due in part to an overall pessimism regarding the technique’s ability to generate useful insights beyond those offered by traditional marketing methods. In a 2017 article in the California Management Review, Ming Hsu, a marketing professor at UC Berkeley, wrote: “The prevailing attitude…can be summarized as… ‘neuroscience either tells me what I already know, or it tells me something new that I don’t care about.’” For example, brain scanning can show that the same beverage with different price tags may produce differing responses in test subjects, but so can simpler methods: A 2005 behavioral study found that people were worse at problem solving when they were served an energy drink with a discounted price than when they were served the same drink at full price. And do marketers really need to be told that people’s brains react differently to Coke and Pepsi to understand the importance of branding?

Pessimism about brain scans hasn’t been eased by infighting between cautious academics and enthusiastic marketers. In 2011 the branding consultant Martin Lindstrom published an editorial in the New York Times suggesting, on the basis of fMRI data, that the way iPhone users felt about their phones was akin to romantic love. Forty-four academics cosigned a letter to the Times pointedly critiquing the editorial.

This skepticism may soon fade, however, for two reasons. First, the science has advanced rapidly in the past five years and has begun to validate some of the audacious “mind reading” claims of Lindstrom and neuromarketing’s other early proponents. Michael Platt, the director of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative, says a team at the University of Pennsylvania is on the verge of demonstrating that at a neural level, people actually do love their smartphones the way Lindstrom claimed. As the science becomes more settled—and as more neuroscience PhDs leave academic labs for industry—brain scans are likely to become more popular with marketers.

Fuente extraída de: https://goo.gl/BX9YFN