Unpacking the neuromarketing phenomenon

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by ConsultaPanel Team, 02 Jul 2014

Ruane Bester and Irene le Roux unpack the neuromarketing phenomenon at the annual SAMRA conference. Learn more here.

Ruane Bester and Irene le Roux delivered an exciting presentation at this year’s SAMRA (South African Market Research) conference. The presentation, entitled Unpacking the neuromarketing phenomenon: towards a research agenda in the banking industry, focused on why marketers should apply the principles of neuromarketing in the banking industry.

Mr. Ruane bester and Mrs. Irene le Roux

Neuromarketing allows businesses to understand customers’ highs and lows based on the emotions that they experience during the various phases of a particular customer journey. Bester and le Roux’s opinion piece covered a brief overview of Daniel Kahneman's Peak-end-model research, the link with emotions and a detailed up to date discussion on neuromarketing tools and techniques.

Service is one of the main reasons customers leave an organisation, which makes customer experience measurement and retention a key area for success of an organisation. Customer expectations are also continuously changing and the increase in competition in the banking industry means this is something that companies in the financial services industry need to pay attention to.

The banking industry is highly specialised and much different than your typical service organisation. Many neuromarketing research have been scientific and academic, and applying it in a specific business context can be of great benefit.

Customers’ bank experience is evaluated mostly through surveys and interviews, which has its limitations. Neuromarketing can be a possible solution to understand changing consumer behaviour in more detail and apply these findings with more rigour in all fields of a business.

A customer’s psychological journey

What can you really see in the brain?

Neuroscience attempts to identify specific neural activation patterns, then identify which specific emotion is experienced under certain conditions. The Holy Grail is to then predict which emotions might be experienced under certain conditions.
Linking emotions with neuroscience it was found that three main organizing factors underpinned the emotion neural signatures:

1. The positive or negative valence of the emotion, 
2. Its intensity — mild or strong, and 
3. Its sociality — involvement or non-involvement of another person. 

This is basically how emotions are organised in the brain, according to research from Carnegie Mellon University.
Neuromarketing is a field that can uncover information that is not obtainable through other research techniques. The link between customer behaviour and neuroscience can potentially help us create unique experiences.

Current neuromarketing techniques include brain mapping, brain imaging, galvanic skin responses as well as eye tracking and heart rate measurements.

For a journey map to be a complete blueprint of the customer experience design, it must focus not only on the visible or obvious experiences of the customer.  Many secrets are hidden in the irrational side of the experience. This includes the subconscious and emotional dimensions of the experience. We need to look at the emotional experience of the different moments that a customer would go through during any particular journey in the banking industry from a neuromarketing perspective. This perspective should be supplemented or done in conjunction with traditional self-report measures of the customer’s experienced emotions in order to validate the possible differences in observable behaviours that are outcomes of these discrete emotions.
Ethical implications to consider

While there is still much discussion on whether neuromarketing works, there are also a number of ethical implications that need to be considered. Regulations and standard codes of practice need to be developed to ensure that neuromarketing isn’t used to manipulate customers, violate privacy rates and that subjective interpretation of results don’t mislead corporations and clients.

More SAMRA news:
Do South Africans really prefer South African products?

How to engage millennials in research.


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