Neuromarketing in Korea


We ran across this sketchy news item in Digital Chosunilbo, Korean Firms Turn to Neuromarketing. The article describes use of fMRI scans to aid the product development process:

Korea?s largest cosmetics company Amorepacific asked Prof. Sung Young-shin, who teaches consumer and advertising psychology at Korea University, to conduct a study on customers? recognition of its brands last year. Sung?s team photographed the brain of female college students with fMRI devices while showing them ads and products of Amorepacific and famous foreign cosmetics brands.

The tests revealed that the students heard about Hera and Iope, two leading Amorepacific brands, but were not well acquainted with them. Based on the test results, Amorepacific launched a five-month campaign to overhaul its brands.

The result was Kathano Cream, released this year, which comes in a square container looking like a compact two-way cake, breaking away from the old practice of putting basic cosmetics items in round jars. The cream is easy to carry in a handbag. Company outlets in department stores were renovated to suit the colors and design of the new product, leading customers to unconsciously get accustomed to the brand. Kathano Cream is a mega-hit. LG Telecom also conducted a study on ad effects with fMRI devices, and Hyundai Motor is reportedly collecting information on neuromarketing.

It’s not quite clear how the original scans determined lack of brand familiarity, or how novel square packaging would address that issue. Perhaps the combination of a memorable (because it differed from typical packaging) container made their in-store displays and any ancillary advertising more effective.

Korean firms are increasingly on the cutting edge of product development – Samsung, for example, has clearly gone far beyond commodity consumer electronics and become one of the design leaders in the field. It should be no surprise that they would at least explore state of the art marketing techniques as well.

  1. Denise Corcoran says

    Hi, NeuroGuy …

    Thanks for the many interesting posts on your blog about neuromarketing. I was not aware of the buzz word “neuromarketing” till now, although much of my work as a business/leadership coach, business strategist and Master NLP Practitioner focuses in a similar fashion on what drives performance, sales, competitive positioning, etc. in terms of one’s mindset.

    While the goal of both NLP and neuromarketing or neuroeconomics are similar in trying to understand what drives people’s decisions and behaviors, the approach of how to uncover those patterns is very different.

    From my sense of neuromarketing, it looks at the brain almost like hardware is to a computer. Looking at the physical components (eg., the limbic system) and how those components work together. NLP approaches the brain … actually the mind which is more than the brain .. like software. Ie., looking at the fundamental mental processes, “algorithms”, associations, how info. is filtered and processed, etc. that drive behaviors.

    While I am a strong advocate of using science to both validate, explore and test various hypotheses, I also know, as a former mathematician, that science often times uses deductive reasoning to come to conclusions which can be dangerous. Ie., taking a specific observation and making generalities on what it means.

    From my reading of your blog about neuromarketing, to me, there is the danger of observing certain brain activity after a certain trigger has been provoked — like square boxes vs. round boxes for packaging of cosmetics. And then making the generalization that the square box increased sales. Ie., assuming a cause and effect relationship and then generalizing to the overall population.

    From an NLP perspective, we would dig deeper as to why. Eg., were those people who bought the product more visual based in terms of decisions? Was there a certain association (eg. positive memories, meaning) with “square” shapes?

    Just some of my random thoughts for now. I will continue to read your blog with great interest. I believe there is value from every discipline to be gained in understanding us crazy human beings and what drives our behaviors :)).

    I look forward to the day when quantum physics and neuroscience intersect and they can draw from each other the mysteries of our minds.

    Denise Corcoran
    The Empowered Business ™

  2. NeuroGuy says

    Good points, Denise. I think that one of the key aspects of neuromarketing is getting to some of the “why” issues. Traditional marketers sometimes knew what worked, both instinctively and by virtue of testing, but would have been at a loss as to why it worked. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Jennifer Rubechini says

    hi ! im actually a student in korean language and international business in Paris
    after i get my licence i really want to study neuromarketing , marketing science but i cant find any university in Paris where i can study this .
    Maybe you have more information about it ?

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Hi, Jennifer, thanks for stopping by. Your dilemma is common, as few universities focus on neuromarketing even in individual courses. Here’s my current advice to students and anyone else interested in the field: Neuromarketing Careers. I just revised it a few weeks ago, so the information is fresh. Good luck, Jennifer!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.