Mark Smith explores the insights neuromarketing can provide us

I spent an evening delving into the world of neuromarketing last week, courtesy of WARC’s Brainy Bar event series. It was mind-opening, if you’ll excuse the pun. The speakers were passionately dedicated to applying the insights of neuroscience and behavioural psychology to help understand and influence consumer behaviour.

Among other things, we learned how scientists tested the brain and sensory responses of people asked to watch scenes from James Bond films, and observed a consistent difference between the responses of men versus those of women. Neuromarketing, we learned, can give us a richer understanding of gender and cultural differences, which in turn helps us create more effective communications. There’s even a computer algorithm that can analyse visual communication to tell you why it didn’t work.

I’m a great believer in the power of insight to drive creativity. But it struck me the examples we’re being exposed to are using updated techniques to deliver insights on outdated metrics and outmoded channels.

In an age of ad blockers, programmatic advertising, wearable tech and life-enhancing apps, segmentation according to traditional marketing demographics seems irrelevant to the point of redundancy – no matter how sophisticated the science is.

If we’re to be innovative in the ways we communicate, we need to acknowledge that when it comes to our affiliations, the groups that have the most influence on us are not those we’re thrust into because of our age, occupation, ethnicity or gender. The groups that we pay attention to are the ones we choose ourselves. This complex patchwork of influences is made up of the people, ideas, movements and things that matter to us – and it’s a patchwork that’s different for everyone. 

Written by Mark Smith

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