Days after the Advertising Research Foundation and a consortium of firms joined to conduct neuromarketing tests and establish standards (see Neuromarketing Standards Proposed), the biggest player in the field, NeuroFocus, is proposing its own “NeuroStandards” for study design, sample sizes, data collection techniques, laboratory procedures, and consumer protection. The firm calls these NeuroStandards “the first and only set of scientifically-sound principles for conducting EEG-based, full-brain measurements intended for application to market research studies.”

NeuroFocus explained that these NeuroStandards are based on universally-accepted pillars in the academic, scientific, and business communities: standards established by institutional review boards in the medical/neuroscience fields, and Six Sigma and Total Quality Management principles and practices. NeuroStandards are intended to provide senior business management responsible for market research projects and their application for brands, products, packaging, in-store marketing, and advertising with the highest possible quality criteria for designing and conducting neuromarketing studies. [From press release: NeuroFocus Announces NeuroStandards; Market Research Industry’s Sole Set of Principles for Conducting Scientifically-Sound, Full Brain-based EEG Studies.]

Some might find it odd that NeuroFocus is declining to participate in the ARF-sponsored effort and chose to launch its own standards effort. The firm says it will make its standards available to businesses wishing to use them, including the ARF committee. Research asked NeuroFocus CEO Dr. A. K. Pradeep why the firm declined to participate in the ARF project:

Dr AK Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus, told Research today that his firm had not joined the ARF study because it does not see the need for a trial, and because of competition concerns relating to “the way the ARF neurotrial is set up”…

Pradeep said he felt the ARF’s planned trial “wasn’t the right way to go about it”. He said NeuroFocus’ secientific team had already submitted its work for peer review and established its reputation “beyond question”. [From Research NeuroFocus announces own neuromarketing guidelines by Robert Bain.]

The NeuroFocus move is sure to ignite controversy and draw sniping from ARF participants.

I’ll put a more positive spin on these developments, though. A standards controversy is one sign that the nascent neuromarketing industry is growing up. Published research demonstrating the effectiveness of specific neuromarketing techniques combined with accepted standards are both necessary for brain-based and biometric neuromarketing to be accepted as a legitimate and powerful tool for market research.