Science and Society | Published:

Neuromarketing: the hope and hype of neuroimaging in business

Nature Reviews Neuroscience volume 11, pages 284292 (2010) | Download Citation

Abstract

The application of neuroimaging methods to product marketing — neuromarketing — has recently gained considerable popularity. We propose that there are two main reasons for this trend. First, the possibility that neuroimaging will become cheaper and faster than other marketing methods; and second, the hope that neuroimaging will provide marketers with information that is not obtainable through conventional marketing methods. Although neuroimaging is unlikely to be cheaper than other tools in the near future, there is growing evidence that it may provide hidden information about the consumer experience. The most promising application of neuroimaging methods to marketing may come before a product is even released — when it is just an idea being developed.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    & The importance of halo effects in multi-attribute attitude models. J. Mark. Res. 12, 265–275 (1975).

  2. 2.

    The threats to marketing research. J. Mark. Res. 12, 462–467 (1975).

  3. 3.

    & The voice of the customer. Mark. Sci. 12, 1–27 (1993).

  4. 4.

    & Conjoint analysis in marketing: new developments with implications for research and practice. J. Mark. 54, 3–19 (1990).

  5. 5.

    Buyology. Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday, New York, 2008).

  6. 6.

    & Intensity measures of consumer preference. Oper. Res. 28, 278–320 (1980).

  7. 7.

    & Assessing the bias of preference, detection, and identification measures of discrimination ability in product design. Mark. Sci. 11, 64–75 (1992).

  8. 8.

    , & Back to Bentham? Explorations of experienced utility. Q. J. Econ. 112, 375–405 (1997).

  9. 9.

    , & Orbitofrontal cortex encodes willingness to pay in everyday economic transactions. J. Neurosci. 27, 9984–9988 (2007).

  10. 10.

    , & Self-control in decision-making involves modulation of the vmPFC valuation system. Science 324, 646–648 (2009).

  11. 11.

    , , & Neural responses during anticipation of a primary taste reward. Neuron 33, 815–826 (2002).

  12. 12.

    et al. Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence. Neuron 32, 537–551 (2001).

  13. 13.

    , & When the brain plays music: auditory-motor interactions in music perception and production. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 8, 547–558 (2007).

  14. 14.

    , , & Anticipation of increasing monetary reward selectively recruits nucleus accumbens. J. Neurosci. 21, RC159 (2001).

  15. 15.

    , , , & Abstract reward and punishment representations in the human orbitofrontal cortex. Nature Neurosci. 4, 95–102 (2001).

  16. 16.

    , & Processing of social and monetary rewards in the human striatum. Neuron 58, 284–294 (2008).

  17. 17.

    et al. A neural basis for social cooperation. Neuron 35, 1–20 (2002).

  18. 18.

    , , & Neural circuitry underlying pain modulation: expectation, hypnosis, placebo. Trends Cogn. Sci. 7, 197–200 (2003).

  19. 19.

    et al. Dissociating pain from its anticipation in the human brain. Science 284, 1979–1981 (1999).

  20. 20.

    , , & The subjective experience of pain: where expectations become reality. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 12950–12955 (2005).

  21. 21.

    How do you feel? Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 3, 655–666 (2002).

  22. 22.

    , , , & Dissociating the role of the orbitofrontal cortex and the striatum in the computation of goal values and prediction errors. J. Neurosci. 28, 5623–5630 (2008).

  23. 23.

    , , & Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 1050–1054 (2008).

  24. 24.

    Can. cognitive processes be inferred from neuroimaging data? Trends Cogn. Sci. 10, 59–63 (2006).

  25. 25.

    The role of fMRI in cognitive neuroscience: where do we stand? Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 18, 223–227 (2008).

  26. 26.

    Reward-related responses in the human striatum. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1104, 70–88 (2007).

  27. 27.

    & Mapping context and content: the BrainMap model. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 3, 319–321 (2002).

  28. 28.

    , , , & Neural predictors of purchases. Neuron 53, 147–156 (2007).

  29. 29.

    , & Interpretable classifiers for FMRI improve prediction of purchases. IEEE Trans. Neural Syst. Rehabil. Eng. 16, 539–548 (2008).

  30. 30.

    , & A framework for studying the neurobiology of value-based decision making. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 9, 545–556 (2008).

  31. 31.

    , & Neuroeconomics: how neuroscience can inform economics. J. Econ. Lit. 43, 9–64 (2005).

  32. 32.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions: choosing a biological science of choice. Neuron 36, 323–332 (2002).

  33. 33.

    , & Reward-guided learning beyond dopamine in the nucleus accumbens: the integrative functions of cortico-basal ganglia networks. Eur. J. Neurosci. 28, 1437–1448 (2008).

  34. 34.

    & Neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex encode economic value. Nature 441, 223–226 (2006).

  35. 35.

    & Orbitofrontal cortex, associative learning, and expectancies. Neuron 47, 633–636 (2005).

  36. 36.

    , , & Beyond mind-reading: multi-voxel pattern analysis of fMRI data. Trends Cogn. Sci. 10, 424–430 (2006).

  37. 37.

    & Decoding mental states from activity in humans. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 7, 523–534 (2006).

  38. 38.

    & Decoding the visual and subjective contents of the human brain. Nature Neurosci. 8, 679–685 (2005).

  39. 39.

    , , & Identifying natural images from human brain activity. Nature 452, 352–356 (2008).

  40. 40.

    , , , & Intersubject synchronization of cortical activity during natural vision. Science 303, 1634–1640 (2004).

  41. 41.

    et al. Predicting human brain activity associated with the meanings of nouns. Science 320, 1191–1195 (2008).

  42. 42.

    , & Human brain activity time-locked to narrative even boundaries. Psychol. Sci. 18, 449–455 (2007).

  43. 43.

    & Spontaneous mentalizing during an interactive real world task: an fMRI study. Neuropsychologia 44, 1674–1682 (2006).

  44. 44.

    & Decoding human brain activity during real-world experiences. Trends Cogn. Sci. 11, 356–365 (2007).

  45. 45.

    et al. Neural correlates of behavioral preference for culturally familiar drinks. Neuron 44, 379–387 (2004).

  46. 46.

    , & Brands on the brain: neuro-images of advertising. Bus. Strategy Rev. 11, 17–30 (2000).

  47. 47.

    , , & Brain-imaging detection of visual scene encoding in long-term memory for TV commercials. J. Advert. Res. 41, 13–22 (2001).

  48. 48.

    et al. Neural basis for brain responses to TV commercials: a high-resolution EEG study. IEEE Trans. Neural Syst. Rehabil. Eng. 16, 522–531 (2008).

  49. 49.

    & The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science 211, 453–458 (1981).

  50. 50.

    , , & Frames, biases, and rational decision-making in the human brain. Science 313, 684–687 (2006).

  51. 51.

    , , & Commercial features of placebo and therapeutic efficacy. JAMA 299, 1016–1017 (2008).

  52. 52.

    & Neural economics and the biological substrates of valuation. Neuron 36, 265–284 (2002).

  53. 53.

    , & A neural substrate of prediction and reward. Science 275, 1593–1599 (1997).

  54. 54.

    & Placebos and painkillers: is mind as real as matter? Nature Rev. Neurosci. 6, 545–552 (2005).

  55. 55.

    et al. Placebo-induced changes in fMRI in the anticipation and experience of pain. Science 303, 1162–1167 (2004).

  56. 56.

    , , , & Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect. J. Neurosci. 25, 10390–10402 (2005).

  57. 57.

    & How neuroscience can inform consumer research. IEEE Trans. Neural Syst. Rehabil. Eng. 16, 532–538 (2008).

  58. 58.

    , & What is neuromarketing? A discussion and agenda for future research. Int. J. Psychophysiol. 63, 199–204 (2007).

  59. 59.

    , , & A functional magnetic resonance imaging study of neural dissociations between brand and person judgments. J. Consum. Res. 33, 31–40 (2006).

  60. 60.

    & Odor/taste integration and the perception of flavor. Exp. Brain Res. 166, 345–357 (2005).

  61. 61.

    Brain mechanisms underlying flavour and appetite. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 361, 1123–1136 (2006).

  62. 62.

    & The representation in the human brain of food texture and oral fat. J. Neurosci. 24, 3086–3093 (2004).

  63. 63.

    , , , & Enhanced intersubject correlations during movie viewing correlate with successful episodic encoding. Neuron 57, 452–462 (2008).

  64. 64.

    Applying neuroscience to architecture. Neuron 62, 753–756 (2009).

  65. 65.

    & Neural substrates of driving behaviour. NeuroImage 36, 245–255 (2007).

  66. 66.

    et al. Different activation dynamics in multiple neural systems during simulated driving. Hum. Brain Map. 16, 158–167 (2002).

  67. 67.

    This is your brain on politics. New York Times (18 Jan 2005).

  68. 68.

    , , , & Neural bases of motivated reasoning: an FMRI study of emotional constraints on partisan political judgment in the 2004 US Presidential election. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 18, 1947–1958 (2006).

  69. 69.

    et al. Neural correlates of attitude change following positive and negative advertisements. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 3, 6 (2009).

  70. 70.

    & Mechanisms of face perception. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 31, 411–437 (2008).

  71. 71.

    & The fusiform face area: a cortical region specialized for the perception of faces. Philos. Transact. Roy. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 361, 2109–2128 (2006).

  72. 72.

    et al. A neural basis for the effect of candidate appearance on election outcomes. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 3, 344–352 (2008).

  73. 73.

    , & Us versus them: political attitudes and party affiliation influence neural response to faces of presidential candidates. Neuropsychologia 45, 55–64 (2007).

  74. 74.

    & Social neuroeconomics: the neural circuitry of social preferences. Trends Cogn. Sci. 11, 419–427 (2007).

  75. 75.

    , , , & Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature 435, 673–676 (2005).

  76. 76.

    et al. Getting to know you: reputation and trust in a two-person economic exchange. Science 308, 78–83 (2005).

  77. 77.

    , , , & Oxytocin shapes the neural circuitry of trust and trust adaptation in humans. Neuron 58, 639–650 (2008).

  78. 78.

    , , , & Approach-withdrawal and cerebral asymmetry: emotional expression and brain physiology I. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 58, 330–341 (1990).

  79. 79.

    Clarifying the emotive functions of asymmetrical frontal cortical activity. Psychophysiology 40, 838–848 (2003).

  80. 80.

    , , & A spectroanalytic approach to emotional responses evoked through picture presentation. Int. J. Psychophysiol. 72, 212–216 (2008).

  81. 81.

    , , & Analysis of neurophysiological reactions to advertising stimuli by means of EEG and galvanic skin response measures. J. Neurosci. Psychol. Econ. 2, 21–31 (2009).

  82. 82.

    & Transcranial magnetic stimulation in neurology. Lancet Neurol. 2, 145–156 (2003).

  83. 83.

    et al. Incidental findings in brain imaging research. Science 311, 783–784 (2006).

  84. 84.

    et al. Analysis of a large fMRI cohort: statistical and methodological issues for group analyses. NeuroImage 35, 105–120 (2007).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants to G.S.B. from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA016434 and R01DA025045), the Office of Naval Research and Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation (BCS0827313).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Dan Ariely is at the Fuqua School of Business, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Economics, and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 2770, USA.

    • Dan Ariely
  2. Gregory S. Berns is at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Economics Department, Center for Neuropolicy, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

    • Gregory S. Berns

Authors

  1. Search for Dan Ariely in:

  2. Search for Gregory S. Berns in:

Competing interests

Both authors have received speaking fees and royalties for books published on topics that might be related to this article.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gregory S. Berns.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary information S1 (box)

    A short tutorial on marketing research methods

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2795

Further reading