Earlier this month, Brandweek’s Jim Edwards put together a nice survey of the various ways companies are trying to get into consumers’ minds. He spends little time on well-publicized fMRI brain scan efforts, and the discussion of other techniques will be interesting to neuromarketing enthusiasts and skeptics alike.
In Spotlight Flashback: Why Buy? Researchers Seek An Answer, some of the approaches Edwards reviews are Brandtrust’s psychotherapy-like technique, biometric monitoring by Canon, EEG testing by Hewlett-Packard, and a projective “metaphor elicitation” interview by Olson Zaltman Associates. Though these methods have little in common, all are geared to understanding why consumers buy, and all implicity acknowledge that people can’t always explain these decisions as a product of conscious and reasoned decision-making. Midway through the article, Edwards points out why marketers want to believe in the “unconscious consumer”:
If consumers don’t know why they do things, but psychologists are able to reveal that mystery, then marketers can use that to better manipulate consumers. To believe the opposite�that consumers know what they’re doing�is disheartening for marketers, because it means they will always be able to identify (or ignore) marketing for what it is.
Edwards exhibits healthy skepticism without bashing the fledgling neuromarketing industry, and covers a lot of ground in this worthwhile article.