Sunday, September 28, 2008

Neuromarketing - Marketing Science Or Snake Oil?

The Lure Of The "Persuasion Rosetta Stone"

By David Miranda

For those of you that missed it, I highly recommend viewing the PBS Frontline documentary, The Persuaders, originally broadcast in 2004. The compelling and comprehensive report takes us behind the curtain of the relentless pursuit of persuasion - of consumers and citizens alike.

From market research gurus, to advertising agencies, to the brands themselves, the documentary explores the quest to discover and exploit the "code" that persuades us to buy a specific brand or vote for (or against) a specific candidate or issue. It introduces us to something called "neuomarketing" - part psychology, part anthropology, part multiple regression. part etymology.

As the marketing landscape continues to dramatically morph, marketers are desperate to find the secret formula that enables their brand to "cut through the clutter" of hyper-choice. Consumers have become desensitized to marketing "er" claims as in, "brighter", "better", "cheaper", "faster", since these are quickly "me-tooed" by competitors.

Successful brands have created a "cult-like" emotional connection with their consumers as with Starbucks, Apple, Volkswagen, and Nike, for example. The question is why.

Those proponents of neuromarketing suggests that it is the result of some "reptilian response" meaning these brands have been successful in understanding and satisfying some basic Maslow-type needs in their lives. In other words, people prefer Starbucks for more than the coffee or prefer Nike more than the just the sportswear.

Is this snake oil promoted by marketing consultants or is it marketing science? I suggest that it is some of both.

Make up your own mind.