Neuroscience can Predict Consumer’s Behavior

Neuromarketing makes a bold statement: neuroscience can predict consumer behavior. Is this true?

Your business can generate an accurate report of what and how much the buyer acquires, but what happens when you want to know the reason for a purchase? This knowledge would reveal important information about the behavior of your current buyers and thus replicate what you do well to attract new customers.

It is right here where neuroscience has come to the rescue of marketing, to scrutinize the human brain and unveil the mystery of consumer behavior, the answer to all those whys.

Neuroscience is a useful tool in the investigation of multiple fields and disciplines, ranging from medicine, psychology, economics, to marketing.

From the laboratories, multidisciplinary teams of researchers develop and test various theories, among them, those that scrutinize the human decision-making process.

Understanding the decision-making process

For decades, getting the knowledge of why we buy something or prefer one product over another, depended solely on the consumers’ self-perception. We are very good at saying what we like, what we want, and how much we would be willing to pay for a product.

Our self-perception of rationality makes us think and even say that in making a decision we do it rationally. We are aware that we are the target of advertising and we feel immune to it.

Study after study has come to show that it is not like that. This is a narrative that we repeat to ourselves to make ourselves feel better, to be able to feel that we are in control.

The truth is that 95% of decisions are subconscious. It happens that we are not able to access and understand what happens at the level of our unconscious, although we would like to express verbally how we make decisions we could not do it.

Human beings are highly motivated by what makes us feel good, the “self serving bias” or bias of complacency. It is a cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain or increase self-esteem. In simpler words, it is the instinct that makes us selfish.

Neuroscience adds value to the investigation of the decision-making process by enhancing the ability to make inferences that transcend variables and visual paradigms.

That is, when observing two people who make identical decisions, we are unable to see if they came to take them by different neurological pathways.

This understanding of what is not seen but that led to observable action, would make it easier to generalize that knowledge, understand how they are influenced by the context, and create interventions that influence those decisions more effectively.

Predict consumer behavior

Yes, neuroscience can predict consumer behavior by up to 77%. This is the statement of Dr. Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.

One of the biggest challenges for those who seek to apply the knowledge obtained by neuroscience in marketing is the interpretation of the data. In the specific case of Dr. Marci and his team, they asked which of these measures had value and in what combination.

What led them to develop a study in which 60 ads were taken in transmission and simultaneously subjects were studied for 5 months. The study combined facial coding, biometric measurements, as well as electroencephalograms with self-reports of their subjects.

This combination of techniques and analysis was called the Video Ad Explorer. It is thanks to this that they achieved a prediction rate of 77%.

This number was born from a statistical model that included all the data, conscious and non-conscious, that were obtained from the subjects. But also other variables, such as the media plan, the segmentation and the size of the products.

At the moment, the Video Ad Explorer tool is the one that has reached a higher prediction rate of consumer behavior. However, this research presented during 2016 is not the only one in this regard.

Day by day neuroscientists continue to explore and accumulate knowledge that can shape future theories and models. The remaining 23% could be around the corner, for example in the brain waves of a study subject connected to an encephalography device.


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