Brain Fitness and Selling Neuroscience

It’s been a while since we posted Marketing Neuroscience: Brain Fitness, and I’ve noticed that interest in the entire brain fitness and cognitive enhancement area seems to be heating up. I was reminded of that after seeing a few television commercials for Nintendo’s Brain Age game. While Microsoft and Sony are pushing shoot-em-up games, Nintendo is attacking an entirely different market. (That’s not to say that Nintendo is ignoring traditional gamers, of course.) These commercials were no isolated coincidence – Electronic Design reports,

As of Aug. 10, 2006, more than 4 million copies of “Brain Age” had been sold, 600,000 of which on the North American market. And according to a recent survey by Nintendo of Canada and Decima Research, one in four of today’s grandparents are interested in playing video games.

Another interesting items we ran across was Humana Medicare Advantage Members to Receive Brain Fitness Program at No Extra Charge, a news release from the health benefit giant. Apparently, participants in different Humana health plans will either receive the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program at no cost or will be able to purchase it for $100, a price much lower than the $495 suggested retail price. It’s likely that Posit made some huge price concessions to swing this deal, but they’ll gain a lot of credibility from the implied endorsement by Humana. Health insurance companies have a reputation for being very cautious about alternative health aids, and Humana signing on with Posit could induce other insurers to seek similar deals. From the release:

Losses in memory, communication abilities, and mental focus have a dramatic effect on quality of life. Were very excited to facilitate access to a program that can powerfully address this, said Gail Miller, Humanas vice president of senior product development. Much as SilverSneakers keeps our members muscles active, Posit Sciences Brain Fitness Program can prevent mental muscles from atrophying. Thats in keeping with our overarching goal to provide Humana members with the tools to achieve optimum health.

Posit Science seems to be throwing as many logs on the PR fire as they can – yesterday, they issued another release, Consumer-led Revolution in Brain Health Catches Doctors by Surprise. The press release claims that consumers are driving the demand for brain health products rather than physicians. That’s likely true, but one could probably say the same thing about herbal remedies and acupuncture. The whole concept of brain fitness training has been questioned (see Brain Fitness Concept Challenged), but to their credit Posit Science seems to be making a real effort to present their research at serious scholarly gatherings.

MSNBC.com recently ran a compilation of several articles, Maintaining Your Memory. Some of the articles cover foods that may help memory, “mental aerobics,” and how to determine normal vs. symptomatic forgetfulness.

As baby boomers get ever older while maintaining high expectations for their personal abilities and quality of life, we can expect to see continued interest in brain fitness and anything that promises to keep one’s mind sharp.

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— who has written 984 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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