fMRI Neuromarketing Research Consulting
- How can fMRI research help your sales?
- Is fMRI scanning right for your business?
It is a well-established fact that about 95% of consumer decisions are made based on emotions, rather than on rational thought and analysis. Emotional decisions, however, are made primarily in the Limbic System located deep in the brain. Each structure of the Limbic System has its specific role in creating emotions.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) measures the changes of neural activity in the brain indirectly. It is widely used for studying neural mechanisms of decision making. Many Neuromarketing studies are done using fMRI scanners at a large number of universities. Since most consumer decisions are driven by emotion, this technology examines closely the roles of various brain regions in unconscious, intuitive responses.
Advantages of fMRI Neuromarketing Consumer Research
The ability to study neural mechanisms of decisions provides a new way of understanding how the brain responds to marketing messages and stimuli. This new tool of market research has proven to be extremely valuable to marketing and sales.
- Activity in the Limbic System indicates emotional responses – Changes of the brain’s neural activity can provide insights into how stimuli experienced by test subjects affect their emotions and choices.
- Identifying what brain areas become more active – Since fMRI technology was developed, Neuroscientists can identify the correlations between certain brain areas’ activity and decisions. We have gained a better understanding of what emotional responses are associated with activity in various brain regions.
- Providing external stimuli to study the brain’s responses – Visual and audible stimuli, along with smells and tastes, can be presented to test subjects during a brain scan. fMRI scans can see which brain structures become active. The emotions evoked by those activated brain structures can be assessed.
- Mapping pleasure, disgust, anger, desire, and fear – Through fMRI studies, marketing responses can be evaluated more precisely. In contrast, traditional consumer surveys rely on people’s ability to recall, generating inaccurate or misleading information.
Disadvantages of fMRI Neuromarketing Research
If fMRI data were definitive in determining how to enhance marketing effectiveness, it would be the only technology being used. However, like every other Neuroscience research technique, this technology also has several disadvantages. Nearly all fMRI studies are currently conducted in an academic setting, instead of a commercial environment.
- fMRI studies are very costly – fMRI scanning equipment costs millions of dollars. Most fMRI scanners are in university settings or medical facilities. They require expert technicians to operate the equipment, and interpretation of results requires professional expertise. While major corporations can and do fund fMRI research, the cost makes the technology inaccessible for most businesses.
- fMRI study groups are small – This type of scanning takes considerable time, and fMRI scanners are in heavy use. So, even a well-funded study can only test a small number of subjects. Such a limitation makes it difficult to match a company’s demographic customer base.
- The test environment is not typical – Anyone who has experienced a medical MRI scan knows just how uncomfortable the experience is. Subjects must remain very still, so stimuli must be presented in a way that is unlike any consumer experience. This element alone can result in data that is inconclusive, with responses that are affected by the conditions.
- Responses are slow and often ambivalent – In fMRI studies, the change of blood oxygen levels in a brain area is not immediate. Up to 10 seconds can pass before a reaction to a stimulus occurs. That delay can cloud results and makes study design more difficult. In addition, increased blood flow in a brain structure can indicate more than one possible emotional response, making it difficult to interpret the results.
Harness Insights from Existing fMRI Research
In most cases, it is impractical for businesses to fund fMRI Neuromarketing research for their own use. The cost alone makes that prohibitive.
However, those studies are difficult to access and interpret for those who are not trained in Neuroscience.
As a Neuroscientist who specializes in Neuromarketing, Dr. Terry Wu has access to, and studies published fMRI research regularly. In his consultations with clients and in his keynote speeches to business leaders, he brings a unique understanding of that research to the table. His insights into what fMRI studies reveal leads to actionable marketing and sales strategies for your business.