Neuromarketing or Consumer neuroscience?

If you are reading this article, you probably already heard of the term “neuromarketing” in the past. You might even already know what it means. But do you know the difference between neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience?

For those who do not know what is neuromarketing, here is a simple definition:

Neuromarketing is the application of neuroscience to marketing.

However, I truly think that it is important to elaborate on this definition and give more details in order to avoid any misconception of what really is neuromarketing.

What does the term “neuromarketing” mean?

The term neuromarketing can be decomposed with the word “neuro” which is a shortcut for “neuroscience” and the word “marketing”.

1. Neuroscience

Neuroscience is a vast multidisciplinary science that aims to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of cells, neurons, and neural circuits.

There are many disciplines that are related to neuroscience, such as 1. cognitive neuroscience which is related to the brain base of cognitive functions and processes, 2. affective neuroscience which is related to the brain mechanisms underlying the emotional responses, or 3. decision neuroscience which is related to the neural mechanisms that are responsible for our choices.

The common point of all these disciplines is that they all follow an academic protocol of research that focuses on research goals/questions that arise from independent researchers. Academia values formal, scientific, and systematic procedures to discover answers.

2. Marketing

The term “marketing” is defined by the American Marketing Association as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings, that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”¹.

Therefore, the use of neuroscience changes the way we try to understand consumers’ thoughts and behaviors substantially. Neuromarketing studies the effect of marketing stimuli on consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective (emotional) responses to help better understand consumer responses to different kinds of brands, products, and service-related communication efforts.

Neuroscience methods and insights offer great knowledge of what really drives our choices as it studies the unconscious part of our brain.

What is consumer neuroscience?

Because the term ‘marketing’ has always been about the activities one undertakes to increase sales, neuromarketing suffered negative connotations.

Therefore, some scholars have suggested the alternate therm “consumer neuroscience”.

In some sense, neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience have the same purpose of studying and understanding consumers’ psychology and behaviors. They are also supposed to have the same approach of employing neuroscience methods and insights. However, some “neuromarketers” tend to oversell the commercial purpose of the field and misuse the neuroscientific methods and insights in the name of commercial applications.

Thus, calling it “neuromarketing” or “consumer neuroscience” is no more than a matter of individual tastes. Marketers might prefer the first option while researchers will be more likely tempted by the second. Nevertheless, the essence will always remain the same – it’s an indispensable tool for conducting an analysis of consumer behavior.




Picture credit <a href=''>Brain vector created by vectorjuice -</a>