Thomas Z. Ramsøy

Unlocking the Consumer Mind — Neuromarketing

Today, I’m excited to take you on a journey through the captivating world of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience — where science and consumer behavior intersect.

I’ve long been interested in establishing a framework and ground truth for neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience. It’s been woefully lacking since we even started doing this!

As a co-editor of a special issue on the validity of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing published in the prestigious Frontiers in Neuroscience, alongside accomplished colleagues Hilke Plassmann, Carolyn Yoon, and Joe Devlin, I’ve had the privilege of exploring a treasure trove of cutting-edge research.

This isn’t just your typical scientific review; it’s also a personal voyage into the uncharted territories of the consumer’s mind and brain. Our journey begins with a quick overview of the special issue itself. (You can explore it in detail here.)

The aim was clear: to assemble a collection that not only showcases the latest advancements in consumer neuroscience but also provides valuable insights for professionals, researchers, and curious minds alike.

To advance your understanding and selection of readings, I’ve categorized the articles into six themes, each representing a unique facet of consumer neuroscience:

1. Neuroscientific Foundations and Techniques: In this section, we’ll explore the neural foundations that underpin consumer behavior and the innovative techniques that have taken center stage.

2. Innovative Applications in Marketing: Here, we’ll dive into the transformative impact of neuroscience tools on marketing strategies and campaigns.

3. Consumer Behavior and Decision Making: We’ll uncover the intricate interplay between brain activity and consumer choices in a dynamic marketplace.

4. Ethical and Future Considerations: Our journey takes a critical pause to reflect on the ethical considerations and future prospects of consumer neuroscience.

5. Neuroscientific Insights into Branding: We’ll uncover the neurological roots of brand loyalty and the exciting possibilities offered by neuroscience in reshaping marketing research.

6. Advanced Methodologies and Approaches: In our final stop, we’ll explore groundbreaking techniques that are revolutionizing our understanding of consumer behavior.

But this isn’t just a straightforward categorization; it’s an adventure. I’ll share my thoughts, reflections, and intriguing anecdotes from the world of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing. The collection of articles we were fortunate to amass reveals why we choose what we choose, why we love certain brands, and what the future holds for the ever-evolving world of consumer behavior.

Neuromarketing Foundations and Techniques

Ever wonder how our brains react when we shop or see an ad? The following articles are all about that brainy magic! We’re diving into the cool tools scientists use to peek into our minds. From brain waves reacting to ads to the surprising power of scents, these articles are a treasure trove of brainy insights. Perfect for marketers, curious psychologists, and science buffs alike. Ready to get a little nerdy (in a fun way)? Dive in!

Is EEG Suitable for Marketing Research? A Systematic Review by Bazzani, Ravaioli, Trieste, Faraguna, and Turchetti

Bazzani and team delve deep into the potential of EEG as a tool for marketing research. After a thorough systematic review, they conclude that while EEG has its merits, it’s not without challenges. However, when used correctly and in the right context, EEG can indeed be a valuable asset in understanding consumer behavior. So, while it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, EEG certainly has a place in the marketer’s toolkit. Neuromarketing methods get a thumbs up on this one!

“Measuring Neural Arousal for Advertisements and Its Relationship With Advertising Success” by Eijlers, Boksem, and Smidts

Eijlers, Boksem, and Smidts are some of the strongest contributors to the field of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience. In this paper, they explore the intricate dynamics between neural arousal and the success of advertisements in their research titled “Measuring Neural Arousal for Advertisements and Its Relationship With Advertising Success.” Utilizing advanced neuroscientific methodologies, the team assessed the brain’s arousal responses when exposed to various advertisements. Their findings underscored a notable correlation: ads that elicited higher neural arousal were more effective in capturing audience attention and driving desired outcomes. This pivotal research provides advertisers with a fresh lens, highlighting the significance of harnessing the brain’s arousal mechanisms to craft impactful and resonant ad campaigns.

“Opportunities and Challenges for Using Automatic Human Affect Analysis in Consumer Research” by Küster, Krumhuber, Steinert, Ahuja, Baker, and Schultz

Ever wondered if machines can understand our rollercoaster of emotions? Küster and team dive headfirst into this sci-fi-sounding realm in their piece, “Opportunities and Challenges for Using Automatic Human Affect Analysis in Consumer Research.” They explore the cool tech that’s trying to decode our every smirk, frown, and eyebrow raise to figure out what makes us tick as consumers. While these tools sound like they’re straight out of a futuristic movie, they’re not without their quirks. The team gives us the lowdown on the awesome potential and the “not-so-cool” challenges of using this tech in the real world. It’s a must-read for anyone curious about where the future of consumer research and neuromarketing is headed!

Olfaction Modulates Inter-Subject Correlation of Neural Responses by DeGuzman, Jain, Tabert, and Parra

The power of scent is more profound than you might think! DeGuzman, Jain, Tabert, and Parra dived deep into the world of olfaction, investigating how smells influence the synchronization of neural responses among individuals. Their intriguing research uncovers that our brains don’t just passively receive scents; they actively shape our shared experiences. Next time you catch a whiff of something familiar, remember: it’s not just triggering memories, but also connecting our neural pathways in unexpected ways!

Consumer Behavior and Decision-Making

Unravel the mysteries of the consumer mind! This section dives deep into the intricate ways our brains navigate the world of products, ads, and choices. From the allure of visually captivating ads to the subtle influences guiding our purchase decisions, these articles offer a fresh perspective on the complexities of consumer behavior. Whether you’re a marketer aiming to understand your audience better, a psychologist intrigued by decision-making processes, or simply someone curious about why we buy what we buy, this collection promises insights galore. Let’s embark on this journey of discovery, where science meets shopping.

“Love at First Glance but Not After Deep Consideration: The Impact of Sexually Appealing Advertising on Product Preferences” by Hu, Wu, Li, Xu, Zhao, and Sun

Ads that tug at our heartstrings or make us sit up straight might be doing more than just grabbing our attention. Eijlers, Boksem, and Smidts embarked on a fascinating journey into the world of brainwaves to uncover the secret sauce behind successful ads. Their findings? It’s all about the perfect balance of neural arousal. But here’s where it gets intriguing: it’s not always the most exhilarating ads that take the crown. Dive into their research to discover the delicate interplay between our brain’s reactions and an ad’s market success. When science meets advertising, prepare to be amazed! In a way, it’s neuromarketing one on one.

Item Features Interact With Item Category in Their Influence on Preferences by Oren, Sela, Levy, and Schonberg

Choosing between a sleek black sports car and a practical white minivan? It’s not just about color. Oren, Sela, Levy, and Schonberg explored the fascinating interplay between specific item features and their broader categories. Their findings reveal that our preferences aren’t solely based on individual features, but also on how those features align with our perceptions of the item’s overall category. So, when making choices, it’s a blend of the nitty-gritty details and the bigger picture!

The Relation Between Consumers’ Frontal Alpha Asymmetry, Attitude, and Investment Decision by Di Gruttola, Malizia, D’Arcangelo, Lattanzi, Ricciardi, and Orfei

This is very much a recurring theme in neuromarketing: frontal asymmetry, but this time with a twist. Dive into the intricate dance between brain activity and investment decisions with Di Gruttola and team. They delve deep into the realm of frontal alpha asymmetry, a fascinating brain metric, and its link to consumers’ attitudes and choices in the financial world. Ever wondered if there’s a neural signature behind that stock pick or real estate buy? This article sheds light on the brain’s role in those crucial money moves. A must-read for anyone curious about the neuroscience of finance!

Category Congruence of Display-Only Products Influences Attention and Purchase Decisions By Karmarkar, Carroll, Burke, and Hijikata

Ever found yourself drawn to a product display, only to realize it’s not for sale? Karmarkar and her team delved into the intriguing world of display-only products and their influence on shoppers. Their findings? The congruence of these display items with the actual products being sold plays a pivotal role in capturing attention and swaying purchase decisions. In simpler terms, if that display-only guitar next to the music book section feels “right,” you’re more likely to buy. It’s a subtle nudge, but one that marketers can harness to guide consumers in a desired direction.

The Impact of Visual Art and High Affective Arousal on Heuristic Decision-Making in Consumers by Kim, Park, Kim, Yang, Han, and Kim

Stepping into the vibrant world of visual art, the team led by Kim and Park delves into its profound influence on our snap decisions. Their exploration reveals that when consumers are exposed to captivating art combined with intense emotional arousal, they tend to rely more on gut feelings and shortcuts in decision-making. So, next time you’re swayed by a visually stunning ad or a piece of art, remember it might just be tapping into your emotions, guiding your choices in ways you hadn’t imagined!

Innovative Applications in Neuromarketing

These types of articles unveils how cutting-edge scientific insights are revolutionizing the way we think about advertising and consumer behavior. From the immersive experience of 360-degree videos to understanding the brain’s subtle reactions during shopping, these studies offer a fresh perspective on age-old marketing challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, a neuromarketing guru, a curious psychologist, or someone fascinated by the blend of science and commerce, these articles promise to enlighten. Let’s explore the future of marketing through the lens of neuroscience.

Do You See What I See? Effectiveness of 360-Degree vs. 2D Video Ads Using a Neuroscience Approach
By Ausin-Azofra, Bigne, Ruiz, Marín-Morales, Guixeres, and Alcañiz

360-degree videos or traditional 2D ads – which one truly captures the viewer’s attention? Ausin-Azofra and colleagues dive deep into this debate using a neuroscience lens. Their research pits the immersive experience of 360-degree videos against the familiarity of 2D ads to determine which format reigns supreme in terms of effectiveness. By tapping into brain activity, they unveil fascinating insights about how viewers engage with and respond to these different ad formats. For marketers looking to make a splash in the digital realm, this study offers invaluable guidance on where to place their bets.

Neural Correlates of Garment Fit and Purchase Intention in the Consumer Decision-Making Process and the Influence of Product Presentation by Kim, Kwon, and Kim

Ever wondered how your brain reacts to that perfect-fitting dress or snazzy suit? Kim and colleagues explore the neural underpinnings of how garment fit influences our purchase intentions. Their findings reveal that the brain’s response to a well-fitting garment is intricately linked to our decision to buy. Moreover, the way the product is presented can significantly sway these neural reactions. So, next time you’re contemplating that outfit, know that your brain’s intricate dance of decision-making is at play!

Conceptual Closure Elicited by Event Boundary Transitions Affects Commercial Communication Effectiveness by Silberstein, Seixas, and Nield

Ever zoned out during a scene change in a movie or while flipping through a magazine? Silberstein, Seixas, and Nield explored this phenomenon, known as ‘conceptual closure,’ and its implications for advertising. Their findings? When our brains transition between different scenes or concepts, there’s a brief “mental pause” that can make or break an ad’s effectiveness. It’s like trying to catch someone’s attention during a daydream. For advertisers, it’s a wake-up call: timing and placement matter just as much as content! This has become one of my top ten neuromarketing advices.

Ethical and Future Considerations for Neuromarketing

Delve into the ethical labyrinth of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience! Only one article can be categorized as belonging to this theme, but it was still very important! We confront the critical moral dimensions of delving into consumers’ minds. As someone deeply intrigued by the ethical implications of neuromarketing, I’m particularly excited about this part. From preserving consumer autonomy to charting the path for future endeavors in consumer neuroscience, these articles ignite essential conversations about the responsible use of brain-based insights in the marketplace.

Choice Hygiene for “Consumer Neuroscientists”? Ethical Considerations and Proposals for Future Endeavours By Christensen, Farahi, Vartanian, and Yazdi

Navigating the intricate maze of ethics in consumer neuroscience? Christensen and her team tackle the pressing issue of ethical considerations in this rapidly evolving field. They emphasize the importance of “choice hygiene” – ensuring that consumers make decisions free from undue influence. The article sheds light on potential pitfalls and offers concrete proposals to safeguard ethical standards. As the fusion of neuroscience and marketing continues to grow, this piece serves as a timely reminder of the responsibilities that come with wielding such powerful insights.

Neuroscientific Insights into Branding

In this collection, we delve into the captivating crossroads of neuroscience and branding. These articles offer insights into the neural pathways that activate when we think about beloved brands. It’s an exploration of the scientific foundations of brand loyalty and the untapped potential of neuroscience tools in shaping the future of marketing research.

Neural Substrates of Brand Love: An Activation Likelihood Estimation Meta-Analysis of Functional Neuroimaging Studies by Watanuki and Akama

What makes us feel a deep connection to certain brands? Watanuki and Akama delved deep into the brain to find out. Through an intricate analysis of various neuroimaging studies, they identified specific brain hotspots that buzz with activity when we think of brands we adore. It’s fascinating to realize that our brains have dedicated areas that resonate with our favorite brands. So, when you feel that undeniable pull towards a brand, there’s a good chance your brain’s ‘brand love’ regions are in overdrive!

Picking Your Brains: Where and How Neuroscience Tools Can Enhance Marketing Research by Alvino, Pavone, Abhishta, and Robben

Alvino and team are on a mission to bridge the worlds of neuroscience and marketing. In this riveting piece, they explore the vast potential of neuroscience tools in elevating marketing research. From understanding consumer preferences to predicting market trends, they showcase how a little brainpower can go a long way. Marketers, if you’ve ever wondered about the brainy side of your profession, this is the read for you!

Advanced Methodologies and Approaches in Neuromarketing

In this category, we delve into groundbreaking methodologies and approaches that are reshaping our understanding of consumer neuroscience. These articles unveil how cutting-edge scientific insights are revolutionizing the way we think about consumer behavior, market research, and even the authenticity of smiles. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, a curious scientist, or simply intrigued by the intersection of science and consumer insights, these studies offer a fresh perspective on age-old challenges. Get ready to explore the future of consumer neuroscience through innovative methods and approaches that promise to enlighten and transform the way we approach understanding consumer behavior.

Data Triangulation in Consumer Neuroscience: Integrating Functional Neuroimaging With Meta-Analyses, Psychometrics, and Behavioral Data by Cao and Reimann

Diving into the world of consumer neuroscience, Cao and Reimann set out on a mission to blend various data sources for a richer understanding. They championed the approach of ‘data triangulation’, weaving together insights from brain scans, large-scale meta-analyses, psychometric tests, and real-world behavior. This comprehensive method offers a panoramic view of consumer behavior, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. If you’ve ever wondered how to get the most holistic view of consumer minds, this is the blueprint you’ve been searching for!

A Minimal Setup for Spontaneous Smile Quantification Applicable for Valence Detection by Nascimben and Ramsøy

Diving deep into the world of smiles, Nascimben and yours truly, present a streamlined approach to measure those genuine, spontaneous grins. With a minimalistic setup, we’ve cracked the code to detect the emotional essence behind a smile, distinguishing between genuine joy and mere politeness. So, the next time you flash those pearly whites, our method might just be the key to understanding the real sentiment behind it!

Measuring dlPFC Signals to Predict the Success of Merchandising Elements at the Point-of-Sale – A fNIRS Approach by Gier, Strelow, and Krampe

Gier, Strelow, and Krampe take us on a scientific journey to the bustling aisles of retail stores. Using the power of fNIRS, they delve into the dlPFC signals of the brain to predict which merchandising elements truly shine at the point-of-sale. Their findings? A groundbreaking method that can forecast the success of in-store displays and promotions. Retailers, take note: this trio might just have the secret sauce to boost those sales figures!

So, what does it all mean?

In this journey through the frontiers of consumer neuroscience, we’ve embarked on a voyage of discovery. As one of the coeditors of this special issue, we’ve traversed a landscape where science and marketing converge to illuminate the hidden forces shaping consumer behavior. In addition, we have (in my opinion) helped establish yet another benchmark for the status and validity of neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience.

This collection of articles serves as a snapshot of the state of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing, where the latest research methodologies, ethical considerations, and innovative applications coalesce. Each category we explored, from Neuroscientific Foundations and Techniques to Advanced Methodologies and Approaches, paints a vivid picture of the current landscape.

The contributing authors have unraveled the intricate web of neural connections, revealing how the brain responds to advertising, products, and choices. They’ve ventured into the realms of ethics, uncovering the responsibilities that come with wielding this knowledge.

This special issue stands as a testament to the vibrant field of consumer neuroscience. It’s a state-of-the-art compilation, offering a glimpse into the ever-evolving understanding of the human mind in the context of consumer choices.

I hope you will feel inspired to delve into these articles, where science meets marketing, and where the potential for unlocking deeper insights into consumer behavior is boundless. This special issue is more than a collection of papers; it’s a milestone in our ongoing quest to decipher the mysteries of the consumer’s brain.