This week's Newsweek International edition contains another story about how brain imaging technologies are being used to understand consumer choice:
"Radiologists at the Neurosense clinic in south London aren't looking for lesions or lumps. Instead, they've set up a periscope that allows her to view a series of videotaped advertisements." Contrary to the beliefs of many brand managers, neuromarketing will improve product success rates over time which primarily depend upon focus groups to help determine which products will be put on the market.
"Almost every focus group throws up someone more vocal and bossy, who either inspires others to follow or react against [them] or both," says Tim Ambler, senior fellow at London Business School. Perhaps that's why only one in 100 products survives in the marketplace after the typical product launch."
"According to researchers, the act of deciding whether to make a purchase lasts 2.5 seconds. When the possibility of buying something first occurs to a person, the visual cortex, in the back of the head, springs into action. A few fractions of a second later the mind begins to turn the product over, as though it were looking at it from all sides, which triggers memory circuits in the left inferotemporal cortex, just above and forward of the left ear. Finally, when a product registers as a "strongly preferred choice"the goal of every advertiserthe action switches to the right parietal cortex, above and slightly behind the right ear.
"We can scan people looking at lots of different images, find out afterward which ones they remembered and then go back to the scan data and find out what was specific about the brain activity that occurred in response to the remembered images," says Michael Brammer, chairman of Neurosense."
Among the companies currently testing the technique are Ford of Europe who are using such "neuromarketing" techniques to better understand how consumers make emotional connections with their brands and DaimlerChrysler has funded several research projects at the University of Ulm in Germany, using brain-imaging technology to decode which purchasing choices go into buying a car.
[Note: Thanks to Jerome for the Headsup]