Here’s why top-brands are applying Neuroscience to Market Research

 In branding, emotions, neuromarketing, Solutions, unconscious, unconscious processes

From hype to real added value, Neuromarketing has come to stay. The use of Neuroscience to understand unconscious consumer responses has demonstrated its power and is gathering a lot of attention from top brands (source). There are two main reasons for this: One is that technological advances in the field have made this type of research much more affordable and reliable than ever before. The second is that our understanding of the neural mechanisms has advanced rapidly over the past few years, allowing us to understand how products, ads or concepts are going to perform before they even exist in the marketplace.

But what makes Neuromarketing insights different from traditional market research? In this article we explore some of the key differences and what is the added value of “going neuro”. Enjoy the reading:

1. Meet the Unconscious

Traditional methods of analysis of consumer behavior include surveys, interviews, and focus groups where people are overtly and consciously reporting on their experiences and thoughts. Often, these methods don’t allow a good understanding of the unconscious drivers of purchase. Combining traditional methods with Neuroscience allows you to understand these hidden drivers of choice looking directly into the brains of people.


Think about this: when you see an ad for a particular product, a perfume for example, and you buy the perfume two months later, you’re very unlikely to overtly state that the driver of your purchase was the ad. The ad is probably having an influence on you, but you won’t be able to tell. Applied neuroscience provides insights about what are the potential drivers of this choice, and an experienced consumer NeuroAnalyst could predict market performance based on a sample of about 30 people.

We propose a combination of the existing methods with Neuroscience methods to get the best market research available today


2. How do we really perceive a product

Even though we think we are on control when we perceive a product, or decide to buy it, we’re not. What you consciously experience through your senses is just a made-up perception of the real world. It’s the best guess of your brain figuring out what’s out there. Asking people about their attitudes towards a product can give you their overt ideas about it, but it is quite limited. Think about how influenced are you by your past memories, hidden associations and being socially polite. Waiters at restaurants play with it all the time! When they ask the customers “Did you like the food?” It is very likely that the answer is going to be “yes, of course” even if the food was mediocre.

Research has found that all the knowledge that you have about a brand affects the way you perceive their products as well. In 2004 a famous study about drinking Coca-cola and Pepsi showed that when people was told which brand they were drinking, different memory areas of their brains were more active and changed their preferences (McClure, 2004).

Neuromarketers try to bypass the factors that influence our self-reports and find the true, unbiased responses that guide our senses.


3. Predict consumer choice

As demonstrated by the nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman (2002), purchase decisions are neither optimal nor formally rational. We almost never decide after considering all options. This suggest that we need to understand consumer choices in other ways than merely asking people.

Ramsøy (2015) identifies three notable reasons to assess unconscious effects in consumer choice:

  1. Our choices are often based on unconscious processes and influences. For example contextual cues or framing effects. (see this article about the effects of Price primacy)
  2. Emotions affect our choices substantially.
  3. Decisions are not made after complete evaluation of all the information. Rather, our choices happen almost instantly and based on just a fraction of all available information.

With this in mind, consumer neuroscience generates accurate models of choice that include both the conscious and the unconscious drivers of the decision making process. A much broader understanding that allows for well grounded predictions.


4. Answer the Why?

If we ask our clients what is that they find useful about our reports, they often talk about the great advice that comes with the NeuroAnalysis.

We don’t only know how a certain product or campaign will perform, we’re able to answer WHY we get the results.

Answering the “Why?” gives you a whole new level of understanding. What’s going wrong? What is performing well? Where are people paying attention? What should be changed? The answer to these questions provides a very clear direction for improvement. Our clients love it.



If you are interested in knowing more, you can find a list of recommended readings below.

If want to apply these methods to your own company case, send us a quick e-mail to


List of readings:

Eye measures that predict choice.

Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience (Thomas Z. Ramsøy, 2015). / Spanish version

Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2013).

Neural correlates of behavioral preference for culturally familiar drinks (McClure, 2004).

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