About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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October 28, 2003

Neuromarketing to Your Mind

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Posted by Zack Lynch

As neurotechnology advances and brain imaging technology becomes more precise, all aspects of business, including the art of marketing, will be reinvented.

This week's NYTimes Magazine article There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex highlights how one neuromarketing firm, BrightHouse, is pushing the boundaries of understanding how and why people buy different products. As the article explains, "marketers in the United States spent more than $1 billion last year on focus groups, the results of which guided about $120 billion in advertising. But focus groups are plagued by a basic flaw of human psychology: people often do not know their own minds."

Neuromarketing has a long road to travel though as neuroeconomist Kevin McCabe wisely suggests, "While the first step is to look for reward processing in the brain, it is not the last step since demand itself is an emergent mental construct involving cognition, emotion, and motivation."

Moreover, neuromarketing has some interesting philosophical and ethical implications that will surely emerge as more light is shined on this emerging discipline. But with billions of dollars at stake, the search will surely continue as businesses search for the brain's buy button.

So which do you really want, Coke or Pepsi?

Comments (3) | Category: Neuromarketing


1. Justin Hitt on November 17, 2003 10:10 AM writes...

What if a person doesn't drink Coke or Pepsi?

While science can be used to influence someones mind, most companies want buyers who make informed decisions. Why? Because most people stick to THEIR DECISIONS, good or bad.

When someone like a consumer is influenced into a selection, they often can ebb between multiple choices depending on the most influential.

It's like selling to other companies verse selling to teenagers-- teens might buy something because their friends or a celebrity is using the product. (Or an adult buying a car.) But a company will select a product on their ability to profit from it.

While lightly influenced by what other people are buying, companies have other points to account for-- even when a human makes the buying decision at both points of sale.

Now changing ad emphasis and colors used based on personality profiles (using LCD screens based on sensing a buyer profile) might be a powerful marketing tool-- it's not much different than testing a marketing list, except on an individual basis.

The art of marketing isn't likely to be reinvented, but perhaps given better tools to focus on individual needs and desires on an emotional basis.

In any case, I'm looking forward to your fresh views on the subject, keep up the great work.


Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

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2. Mark Ross on December 1, 2003 9:56 AM writes...

Find out what NeuroMarketing is all about.

The Human Neuroimaging Lab at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX) is hosting a novel symposium April 16-18 to introduce any and all interested parties to the fundamentals of neuroimaging and its range of applications in different markets.

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3. Anonymous on September 30, 2004 1:01 AM writes...

"some interesting philosophical and ethical implications?". THAT´S MANIPULATION, SON OF A...!!!
What comes after? Political neuromanipulation?!!

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