Neuromarketing is a marketing field that uses findings from brain research and psychology to optimize advertising. Neuromarketing experts use various methods to investigate which processes in the consumer’s brain influence purchasing decisions. This knowledge makes marketing useful for companies.

If you look for a definition of neuromarketing in an online encyclopedia or in a book, you will find various explanations. One encyclopedia gives a narrow definition of neuromarketing that focuses exclusively on apparative methods. Another lexicon gives another definition of neuromarketing that uses all the findings of research on the processes in the human brain. These processes are central to its use in marketing. Basic questions here are:

  • Why do customers buy?
  • What types of buyers are there?
  • How can a company’s marketing make use of this knowledge about the customer?

Customers’ purchasing decisions do not depend solely on rational considerations in the brain, but are essentially dependent on emotions. This is because new findings in brain research have shown that disturbances in the limbic system (the seat of emotions in the brain) make a person incapable of making rational decisions. Today, companies are using the findings of brain research to optimize their marketing and advertising. Not only marketing experts deal with this topic, but also neuro-scientists, who study different processing processes in the human brain:

  • multisensory processes (smells, sounds, haptics)
  • emotional-cognitive processes (recognition and feeling)
  • neurolinguistic processes (language)

In neuromarketing, fundamental questions are investigated that are of interest to marketing and help to target advertising. These are, for example, questions of purchase pricing or the formative differences between “strong” and “weak” brands. The focus is on people in their role as customers or consumers, their emotional reactions to marketing methods and their emotional relationship to a company.

Hans-Georg Häusel’s Limbic Model is fundamental to the practice of corporate neuromarketing. The motive and emotion structure model attempts to harness the inner life of customers for analyzing target groups, brand positioning and developing marketing tools. The emotion systems in the brain shape human personality. Three important emotion systems are distinguished:

  • Stimulus
  • Dominance
  • Balance

These three systems are pronounced differently in each person (and thus in each brain). On the one hand, the relationship is hereditary, but it is also changed in the course of life by education and socialization. The age and gender of the client also play a major role.

The emotional space as the basis for limbic types

In a kind of “emotion space,” the so-called limbic map assigns various characteristics, feelings and human states to the three basic categories of stimulus, dominance and balance. For example, impulsivity, spontaneity and risk-taking are located in the area between dominance and stimulance. Art, fun and humor are assigned to balance and stimulance. Diligence, discipline and logic belong to dominance and balance. The decision-making behavior of an individual person is based on these emotions and states. Depending on which area is more or less pronounced in a person, it can make sense for a company to research its specific target group on this basis. For example, the following groups can be formed as so-called Limbic Types:

  • Traditionalists and Harmonisers (balance-minded).
  • Hedonists, adventurers and performers (stimulus- and dominance-driven)
  • Open-minded (stimulus/balance)
  • Disciplined (dominance/balance)

Analysis methods of neuromarketing

Analysis methods in marketing have been constantly refined during this century. For example, in online marketing, eye tracking is used to gain insights into the quality of an online store. Neuromarketing goes even deeper here and asks what processes in the brain trigger certain actions: What happens in the customer’s brain when he looks at a certain advertisement, when he clicks on a certain product while surfing online, or when he decides to buy a book, a smartphone, an article of clothing, or another item? Psychology impressively proved more than 100 years ago that most of a person’s actions are unconscious. Research for neuromarketing is now getting to the bottom of these unconscious decisions – specifically by measuring brain activity.

Research in neuromarketing uses a variety of methods. The activity of the brain is measured using a magnetic resonance tomograph or with the help of electroencephalography. In addition, monitoring pulse rate or sweat gland activity can provide insights into the customer’s emotions. However, it should always be noted that these tests are usually carried out under laboratory conditions and only recreate reality to a limited extent. This is because purchasing decisions are usually influenced by a large number of factors that are omitted under laboratory conditions, for example:

  • Recommendations from friends and acquaintances,
  • disruptive factors during a real purchase situation (distractions, noises, etc.),
  • personal experience of the customer with a product.

Neuromarketing uses insights into the way the brain works to convey synesthetic messages via all senses and to specifically control the emotional impact of brands and products. In the online sector, for example, this is achieved through emotional design and appropriate navigation, and in the offline sector through emotional product presentation and store conception. Online advertising uses neuromarketing for ad placement, content creation and design concepts.

The human brain pays more attention to emotionally shaped content than to any abstract knowledge. The same is true for consumers who decide for or against buying a product. This knowledge is not new, and therefore advertising has always been emotionally influenced. Neuromarketing develops sophisticated methods to measure the emotional impact of brands and to draw conclusions from these findings for optimizing marketing. Signals that act unconsciously in the brain can strengthen the subjectively perceived value of a product or the reputation of a company. Marketing experts can also increase product sales by “brain-friendly” design of advertising on sales floors, placement in videos or content design on websites.


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