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  Mary-Anne Webb AMAMI 
Principal, Inspirit Marketing



Brands in the Age of Neuromarketing

Brands take their power from people’s need to be part of something greater than them. They also take power from the way they make people feel.

Although brands get into our minds it’s only when they penetrate our heart that we truly connect. It’s for this reason people make brand decisions they often can’t articulate. That’s why market researchers follow people and watch their shopping habits. People can say one thing in a focus group and then do something entirely different. This is proven when the research outcomes don’t translate into equivalent sales.

When we talk about ‘heart’ we link to right brain thinking, our emotional side that can’t be rationalised with facts and figures. The right brain takes in visual cues, sensory and emotional benefits to guide which brand to choose over another. Understanding this highlights the need to nurture a brand’s intangible assets; these represent qualities that can’t be physically held, only held internally as feelings.

The desire to get inside the right brain has given rise to neuromarketing. Although relatively new, you know when the ‘Dummies’ publishers create ‘Neuromarketing for Dummies’ it must be more than just a fleeting idea and also a good introduction to the topic.

What exactly is neuromarketing?

Dictionary.com  defines  neuromarketing as ‘the process of researching the brain patterns of consumers to reveal their responses to particular advertisement and products before developing new advertising campaigns and branding techniques’. The research uses technical tools like Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI), Steady State Topography (SST), Electroencephalogy (EEG), eye-tracking and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR).

Neurological research says we make decisions through the mind’s subliminal processes rather than the conscious ones, contrary to previous beliefs.  This is the premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and others in its genre who champion non-thinking thinking.  

Why does it matter?
Neuromarketing is exciting marketers because it provides access and an objective means to measure the unconscious mind. Around the world a number of neuromarketing agencies are rising up to take up the challenge. 

However not everyone’s a fan. It’s little surprise that ethics and neuromarketing are mentioned in the same breath. When new technologies and science move faster than the ethical debate around them it’s natural that issues arise.  Take for instance the storm caused by UK company Renew London using the City of London’s recycling bins to track the smartphones of passers-by to collect football data. It didn’t take long for the initiative to be stopped due to the concerns raised by privacy campaigners. In this case the marketing need to know and the public need to know weren’t aligned. 

So what does it mean for your brand? 
You need to approach your audience not as rational beings but as emotional people. It means you can’t trust what people say. They don’t mean to lie; it’s just their subconscious taking over. It means you need to win people’s hearts by concentrating on your brand’s personality. Put effort into developing and executing your brand personality as it’s the differentiator that can’t be easily copied. Let your brand’s personality connect with the heart of your customers and they’ll want what you offer and not even understand why.

About Mary-Anne Webb

Mary-Anne Webb is the principal at Inspirit Marketing, a marketing consultancy focused on improving your marketing, branding and communications projects. With 25 years of marketing experience in professional services and business-to-business environments, Mary-Anne works for clients in industries such as law, accounting, property, recruitment, engineering, associations and IT. Through her work with marketing teams within corporate and start-up companies, Mary-Anne understands the marketing and communication challenges faced by different sized businesses during periods of change and growth.

Mary-Anne is qualified with a Master of Commerce, Program in Marketing and Organisational Behaviour (UNSW) and a Bachelor of Business, Major in Marketing (UWS – Nepean).

For more information: www.inspiritmarketing.com.au