Neuromarketing: Who Decides What You Buy?

People who have found themselves indulging in clothing trends, jiving to mainstream music, or frequenting the local Starbucks can see that companies spend billions a year researching how to perpetuate such conformity. What people may not know is that the advertising itself is becoming far more scientifically advanced. Neuromarketing is an emerging branch of neuroscience in which researchers use medical technology to determine consumer reactions to particular brands, slogans, and advertisements. By observing brain activity, researchers in lab-coats can predict whether you prefer Pepsi or Coke more accurately than you can. Critics have already begun to denounce the idea for its intrusiveness; however, though the field is already highly controversial, there is no doubt that its continuing development will ultimately have a profound impact on consumerism and the overall study of human behavior. In America’s capitalist society, advertisements drive our everyday lives. While the idea of actual ‘mind control’ may seem far-fetched and unrealistic, the fact remains that the

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marketing industry has had a firm grasp over the American perception of everything from smoking to sex education. Our current concept of marketing, with its image-based ads, department store window displays, and catchy TV jingles, actually did not exist before the mid-1900s. Starting in the 1950s, fast food industries teamed up with processed food companies to shape the concept of what we now understand to be McDonald’s and Burger King ‘cuisine’ [1]. In the 1980s, the invention of cable TV, VCRs, and remote controls revolutionized the advertising world, as it allowed the media to become much more easily accessible to average families [2]. These developments soon allowed advertising executives to cater to the public’s general interests and subconscious desires. Over time, the marketing industry has learned to exploit our responses to a wide variety of images and concepts. It is not difficult, however, to recognize and understand the methodology behind these marketing campaigns. The strategic placement of Victoria’s Secret models into Super Bowl halftime commercials has an obvious sexual appeal. Celebrities are paid to endorse particular products, since their personal testimonies make any company just seem better. Even the catchiness of a jingle makes us more likely to pause when we see a bag of Kit Kats or Goldfish crackers. But somehow, despite the almost laughably obvious marketing methods, we still respond positively to popular brands and catchy slogans—tools crafted purposely by marketing executives to catch our attention. This tendency to gravitate toward familiar symbols and phrases is the driving force behind the concept of neuromarketing. Scientists are focusing on these natural inclinations, using brain imaging techniques to gauge consumer reactions and expand upon more common, traditional methods, such as surveys and focus groups.
There are multiple types of brain-imaging technologies used in current neuromarketing studies: fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), QEEG (quantitative electroencephalography), and MEG (magnetoencephalography). However, the fMRI method is currently the most popular amongst marketing companies, since it utilizes mainstream technology to produce clear images of real-time brain activity.
As an imaging technique, the process also translates results more easily into layman’s terms: rather than presenting data in strings of incomprehensible numbers, fMRI technology gives people the opportunity to actually visualize the activity patterns in their brains.

Quote:”Advertising is becoming more scientifically advanced”
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