Neuromarketing: Understand Consumer Reactions by a Mix of Cognitive Science + Marketing

Neuromarketing | Science | Digital Marketing | Science + Marketing


Ever since Neuromarketing has reached the world of companies more and more professionals and businesses take it into account within their digital marketing strategies

Neuromarketing brings together the contributions of biology and psychology, helping brands to learn more about consumers and their habits. And, it’s not surprising that currently, many big and small scale businesses are already into it.

Cognitive neuroscience was born from the meeting of two disciplines that seek to solve the same question but from different approaches: neuroscience and cognitive technologies. 

The first focuses on the nervous system, while the second covers the study of mental processes. The goal of cognitive neuroscience is the study of the mind-brain binomial like how from brain activity is thought, emotions, feelings, and memory created.

Years later, this same question was brought to the level of marketing. 

The question became the following: how can the study of mental processes help to understand the consumer? 

In this way neuromarketing emerged, which consists of the application of cognitive neuroscience to the field of traditional marketing.

The neuromarketing is the convergence of scientific knowledge, psychology, new technologies, and marketing. This is in order to understand the reactions of consumers to certain stimuli which can be of a different nature. 

Neuromarketing Metrics

Neuromarketing studies are based on the analysis of unconscious behaviors when faced with the perception of different stimuli. Different metrics can be used that respond to the defined needs and for this, it is essential to be clear about the objectives of the study.

Depending on the objectives, the experimental protocol is designed:

Emotional Indicators

  • Emotional Activation
    Activation produced by a stimulus and can be the result of positive or negative emotion
  • Emotional Impact 
    Variations that occur during emotional activation
  • Emotional Valencia
    Indicates whether the emotion is positive or negative

Cognitive Indicators

  • Attention
    Environmental stimuli are filtered detecting priority ones based on the concentration of our activity on the objective
  • Memory
    A function of the brain that allows information to be encoded, stored and retrieved
  • Engagement
    Indicates the degree of involvement or connection between the participant and the stimulus or task. Interest, attention, working memory, the cognitive load involved in the task, among other factors, are related to engagement and show the degree of involvement of the participant

Visual Behavior

  • Visual Attention
    It allows knowing the elements that have captured the concentration being deeply processed
  • Visual Path
    Allows to see the visual path taken before a stimulus

Techniques used in Neuromarketing that Form the Base

#1 Functional Magnetic Resonance (MRI)
An imaging method that demonstrates regional, time-varying changes in brain metabolism, the metabolic changes can be consequent to task-induced cognitive state changes or the result of unregulated processes in the resting brain.

#2 Eye-Tracking
Or the study of saccades and tracking movements, in online marketing it is known as heat maps.

#3 Electromyography
Or analysis of the electrical response of the muscles (very famous for its results in sports motivation)

#4 Electroencephalogram (EEG)
A phenomenon that detects electrical activity in the brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you're asleep.

“Microsoft also uses the EEG to measure the reactions of XBOX players, an advantageous analysis to give us data in real-time, and something that does not happen with others.”

#5 Electrocardiogram (EKG)
Or response of the heart to different stimuli (that allows, together with the dilation of the pupils and other measures, to observe the emotional impact or wow effect of a product)

#6 GSR
Or galvanic skin response, also known as Electrodermal Activity (EDA) and Skin Conductance (SC), measures continuous variations in the electrical characteristics of the skin,

#7 Face Coding
Or the ability to predict what is happening in your mind through gestures and micro-expressions of your face.

[Prefer Reading: “Social Media Mood Tracking via Sentiment Analysis.”]

How are Large Companies Applying Neuromarketing?

This discipline has been implemented by several companies in different parts of the world. Organizations are measuring non-verbal facial expressions which are part of neuroscience applied to the market, as part of the market research tool.

Neuromarketing is the science that studies the behavior of purchase or consumption and customer decisions to different products, services, and/or brands. It is, therefore, the discipline in charge of analyzing and studying some basic mental processes such as attention, perception, and memory.

This discipline performs all this analysis, using modern scientific instruments to obtain measurable and verifiable results.

One of its specialties to dig deep into the world of consumers is the study of consumer behavior and in order to do so, it uses neuroscientific techniques to obtain data on consumer behavior and habits of a person. 

Thanks to these techniques we can know, for example, that almost 69% of purchase decisions are unconscious and that they respond to basic impulses from our brain.

[Prefer Reading: “AI’s Interference in Digital Marketing.”]

Few Industry Examples

At the international level, ABInBev, one of the largest multinational beer consumers uses facial coding within communication evaluation and uses the latest innovative techniques to better engage with the users.

“Our dedicated research labs and technology centers across the globe are driving innovation and helping to ensure we stay ahead of the curve. We’re scaling our existing capabilities in Data Analytics, Automation and AI, and exploring technologies like blockchain and VR.”


A few years back, Disney made efforts to implement a neuromarketing technique to test and analyze the audience reactions during the screening of famous films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book.

The experiment was able to identify patterns in viewer behavior and even predict reactions for the rest of the film, just after five minutes of observation.


Next, in the area of beauty one can find numerous examples. One of the most famous is L’Oreal, which implements stimuli at points of sale to generate positive emotions in its consumers. 

The French brand analyzed the impact generated by the distribution of the products on the furniture using different techniques, such as eye-tracking. The conclusions led to the optimization of the elements of the point of sale to improve emotional connections.

The buying behavior has an emotional motivation but often the decision making is unconscious buying. And this is where Neuromarketing can help brands sell more products and services. 

When deciding between two products, a potential customer decides to buy one and not the other, what has the company that sold its products? 

As the decision processes are not always rational and are executed unconsciously, Neuromarketing tries to ensure that the information of its product reaches precisely the unconscious of potential customers. 

[Prefer Reading: Emotion Analytics: “Can Robots Understand your Feelings?”]

Neuromarketing As a Sales Tool


Neuromarketing has become one of the most powerful sales tools to help companies sell their products and services effectively, through a deep understanding of how to reach their customers and try to influence the decisions they make in an efficient way. 

Knowing how our brain works and how we behave in certain situations can help companies when making decisions regarding Marketing strategies and also during all phases of product or service development.

The primary objective of neuromarketing, i.e. to analyze and determine consumer behavior is highly influenced by increasing sales. To achieve this, the powerful software and tools store relevant information of all mental processes that the human brain collects through visual, auditory, or tactile perception all in the form of data.

[Prefer Reading: “Digital Marketing Strategies to Survive Amidst COVID-19”]