Neuromarketing: How the Brain Makes Decisions

For centuries, marketers have employed scientific techniques in an attempt to determine precisely what it is consumers desire. However, in more recent years, industry experts have been forgoing tedious qualitative research methods and are delving into the human brain – literally.

is an emerging field whereby scientists use brain imaging, skin-moisture levels, heart rate, depth/pace of breathing, and posture to determine the human brain’s instantaneous reaction to stimuli.

Using these tests, neuroscientists have determined the exact cluster of the brain responsible for decision-making, the reptilian brain. Buried deep within the prefrontal cortex, the reptilian brain is believed to be one of the most primitive cranial structures. Though the reptilian complex seems basic, its role in logical reasoning is far from it.

According to author of “How We Decide”, John Lehrer, the neocortex surrounding the reptilian brain can only process approximately seven pieces of information at one time. Therefore, when someone is faced with a multitude of options, like which ice cream to buy, their neocortexes may become overwhelmed. This internal tug-of-war is exactly the dilemma marketers and advertisers are attempting to avoid by presenting their product as the easy choice.

Experts also emphasize the role that emotions and feelings play in a consumer’s decision-making process. For instance, when someone feels comforted by an ad for hot chocolate, the brain releases the “happy” neurotransmitter, dopamine. The release of this chemical is a predictor of a consumer’s compliance to buy.

As Carl Marci, founder of Innerscope Research Inc., elaborates, “Typically, consumers show simultaneous blips in most of their biological metrics when they decide to buy something. These indicate the emotional reward they feel for making a choice and may help drive future purchases”.

Campbell’s Soup Co. is the latest brand to take advantage of neuromarketing research. By exploiting the aforementioned techniques, scientists uncovered that emotions experienced by consumers at home were inconsistent with the feelings experienced by them in the soup aisle of the grocery store. The data sparked an entirely new design effort and marketing strategy.

This revolutionary research demonstrates the invasive measures marketers/advertisers are having to go to in the hopes of breaking through the clutter, while also demonstrating the effect such clutter has on the human brain.


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