What is ‘neuromarketing’? A discussion and agenda for future research Nick Lee ⁎, Amanda J. Broderick, Laura Chamberlain
Marketing Group, Aston Business School, Aston University, UK Received 1 February 2006; received in revised form 1 March 2006; accepted 30 March 2006 Available online 12 June 2006
Abstract Recent years have seen advances in neuroimaging to such an extent that neuroscientists are able to directly study the frequency, location, and timing of neuronal activity to an unprecedented degree. However, marketing science has remained largely unaware of such advances and their huge potential. In fact, the application of neuroimaging to market research – what has come to be called ‘neuromarketing’ – has caused considerable controversy within neuroscience circles in recent times. This paper is an attempt to widen the scope of neuromarketing beyond commercial brand and consumer behaviour applications, to include a wider conceptualisation of marketing science. Drawing from general neuroscience and neuroeconomics, neuromarketing as a field of study is defined, and some future research directions are suggested. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: Neuroscience; Neuromarketing; Neuroeconomics; Marketing; Neuroimaging
1. Introduction Recent years have seen an explosion in the abilities of neuroscientists to directly study cortical activity in terms of frequency, time, and space. The psychological and physiological sciences have been quick to apply such techniques to make startling advances in our understanding of the brain and cognition. However, most social sciences have yet to adopt neuroimaging as a standard tool or procedure for research. In particular, while economics has begun to utilise neuroimaging techniques in its research – resulting in the creation of ‘neuroeconomics’ (e.g. Braeutigam, 2005; Kenning and Plassmann, 2005; Rustichini, 2005) – marketing science has been far slower to wake up to the benefits of imaging research, despite both fields of study sharing many common concerns regarding decision making and exchange. There are a number of possible reasons for the lack of takeup of brain imaging methodologies in marketing science. From the perspective of the marketing academic, neuroscience and cognitive psychology in general can be intimidating subjects. Furthermore, many marketing academics may see imaging techniques as simply ‘unattainable’ to them in their own ⁎ Corresponding author. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (N. Lee). 0167-8760/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2006.03.007
departments. However, this is generally not the case, as most business academics work within the context of a larger university with considerable facilities for brain imaging. Even if instruments such as positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are unavailable, electroencephalography (EEG) and galvanic skin response (GSR) technology will likely be. However, the lack of knowledge of even the existence of such techniques leads to a situation where they are not considered as potential avenues of exploration. One possible solution to this is cross-school or departmental collaboration between business and neuroscience research groups — both in terms of project design and procedure. However, from the perspective of the neuroscience researcher, there also appear to be some barriers to collaboration. In particular, while neuroeconomics appears to have raised nary a ripple of moral concern, recent opinions on ‘neuromarketing’ within the neuroscience literature have strongly questioned the ethics of applying imaging techniques to the purpose of “finding the ‘buy button in the brain’ and …creating advertising campaigns that we will be unable to resist” (see the July 2004 Editorial of Nature...