Is Neuromarketing Ethical?
In 1957, there was extensive news coverage of “subliminal perception” in advertising. It was supposed to use quick flashes of language to get people to take some unconscious action. McDonald Vicary, a market researcher, claimed he had tested the technique. In a movie theater the words “THIRSTY DRINK COCA-COLA” were supposedly displayed for 3 milliseconds during a film.
He claimed that Coca-Cola sales in the theater rose 18.1% due to this. There was a nationwide backlash against manipulation of people’s minds. In 1963, however, Vicary admitted that the entire thing was a public relations hoax, meant to boost his own business. It never happened.
Can Neuromarketing Make Consumers Do Anything?
Some people have expressed similar concerns about the use of brain research in marketing. They worry that consumers may be manipulated into buying what they don’t want. It doesn’t work that way at all. It can nudge consumers gently into making decisions. Best of all, it can guide businesses in providing products and services that consumers truly want.
All marketing aims to convince consumers to act. Through trial and error, focus groups and consumer surveys, businesses seek to find out what consumers like or dislike. They want to stimulate consumers to buy. Neuromarketing simply offers science-based ways to do that better.
- Why Do Subtle Cues Help People Make Decisions? – Using advanced technologies, including brain-imaging and eye-tracking, neuroscientists study how the brain functions during decision-making. They’ve learned that up to 95% of decisions are made intuitively and unconsciously. Surprisingly, many unnoticeable factors were found to have large impacts on our decisions.For example, neuroscience research shows that colors affect people emotions. So, Google did some tests. When they tried different colors of blue in the ad links, they discovered that more people clicked on ads with a specific shade of blue. So, they switched to that color, and increased revenues over $200 million per year.
- Neuromarketing Creates Better User Experience – Websites, social media, pay-per-click advertising and email marketing are used by almost every business. In every case, consumers begin making decisions as soon as they first see something on their computer or smart phone. Do they keep looking or leave? Do they read to learn more? Do the images they see help them decide? Will they buy or make contact?The answers depend on each consumer’s experience. The design of a page, the words chosen, colors, fonts and images affect that experience. The results are measured by the conversion rate – the percentage of viewers who decide to buy or make contact. Applying neuromarketing can boost that rate from 100-500%. The improvement is due to a better user experience, not trickery or unethical practices.
- Any Deceptive Marketing Is UnEthical – The fundamentals of ethical business operations are truthfulness, fair pricing, accurate information, and honest value for the consumer. Any marketing methods that reflect those values are ethical. Since neuromarketing methods can’t force any consumer to make any decision, there is nothing unethical about using them.Consumers shop for products and services online. They actively look for what they need. Subtle hints and cues are a legitimate way to help them decide to do business with you, rather than with a competitor.
Choose an Ethical Neuromarketing Company
Neuroscience-based marketing is a new development. Internet giants like Amazon, Facebook and others actively use brain-aware techniques to outsell their competitors. Smaller companies often choose to outsource this effort. A few independent neuromarketing firms are available. They are helping businesses apply the latest research to their internet sales efforts. Ethics are important to your company’s business. You should expect your neuromarketing partner to verify its commitment to meeting the highest ethical standards.