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How Neuroscience Can Enhance Marketing Research

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The use of neuroscience tools to study consumer behaviour and the decision-making process in marketing has become increasing popular, however knowledge regarding neuroscience tools used in consumer neuroscience research is scattered.

A new study from Nyenrode Business University provides an overview of the use and characteristics of consumer neuroscience tools. Based on a review of 219 relevant articles, the study finds that there are seven tools that are currently used in consumer neuroscience research. In particular, electroencephalography (EEG), used to electrical brain activity, and eye tracking (ET), used to measure eye movement and pupil dilatation, are the most commonly used tools in the field.

The study also presents a novel classification criteria to categorise the currently used consumer neuroscience tools: 

  • Behavioural. This includes surveys and observations.
  • Physiological. This includes eye-tracking and electrocardiogram (ECG), a simple test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
  • Neurophysiological. This includes functional MRI imaging which measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow.

According to the study, consumer neuroscience tools are used to study consumer preferences and behaviours in different marketing domains such as advertising, branding, online experience, pricing, product development and product experience.

Dr Letizia Alvino at Nyenrode Business University comments: ‘We find that EEG, both traditional and wearable, is the most popular tool, followed by Eye Tracking. This might suggest that fMRI is no longer the most because popular tool in consumer neuroscience, as researchers are opting for more portable, less invasive and low-cost tools.

‘This suggests that there has been a change in the use and applications of consumer neuroscience tools in the last five years. We hope that this article will work as a guide-map to both researchers and practitioners in making choice of the correct neuroscience tool for specific marketing applications.’

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