Seth Godin has a nice post on ethical marketing that is equally applicable to neuromarketing. Godin makes the point that marketing can be used for evil purposes, such as persuading people to use products that are bad for them, but that marketing can be beautiful, too. He sums up,
Just like every powerful tool, the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool. Marketing has more reach, with more speed, than it has ever had before. With less money, you can have more impact than anyone could have imagined just ten years ago. The question, one I hope you’ll ask yourself, is what are you going to do with that impact?
For me, marketing works for society when the marketer and consumer are both aware of what’s happening and are both satisfied with the ultimate outcome. I don’t think it’s evil to make someone happy by selling them cosmetics, because beauty isn’t the goal, it’s the process that brings joy. [From Is Marketing Evil?]
Some people seem to find the idea of neuromarketing ominous or scary. I have debunked the idea of “super-ads” multiple times, but I agree that we should be concerned about how we use ALL of the marketing tools at our disposal, whether those tools are fMRI brain scans or social media.
Neuromarketing can be beautiful, too… If an ad is made more engaging by using the tools of neuroscience, it’s a win for all. And, even better, if a product can be improved by gauging the REAL wants and needs of customers, it’s bound to be more satisfying for the consumer and more successful for the company.