Contradictions in Neuromarketing
Through neuromarketing our subconscious mind can be affected without even realizing it. There are many advantages to this way of marketing. Neuromarketing saves a lot of money, leads to product improvements and gives people a push in the ‘right’ direction. However, neuromarketing is also called ‘evil marketing’ because it is not ethically responsible. It is seen as manipulation and it would direct consumers to make the wrong choices.
︎︎︎ROBBIN VOS / SOCIETY
I am curious what an expert think of this contradiction and whether someone like Chantal van den Berg can deal with ‘being influenced’. How does she think about the pros and cons? Does she have the same thoughts as the ‘normal’ consumer?
Today I had a conversation with Chantal van den Berg, professional speaker, author and expert on the brain. While working at small and large companies in various industries, Chantal deepens further into the brain, behavioral psychology, mindset and non-verbal communication. As a result, she developed her expertise in the field of neuromarketing. The knowledge and experience about how to activate the subconscious brain had to be accessible to everyone. Now, although it is difficult in times of Corona, she gives lectures, seminars, master classes and advice on this field.
How would you briefly describe neuromarketing?
“I always say: when you trigger the unconscious part of the brain to let people take action. You could also say, it is just a marketing type. But it is actually much more than that. Originally, it is a research method that allows you to look into the brain to see the activation of a particular part of the brain when you offer something to people. That sounds blurry, so I always say what I said first.”
You have started to look further into the brain and behavioral psychology. Was that as a result of your study or work? And why did this area seem so interesting to you?
“The reason was my work. When I was a student, there was no focus on neuromarketing. That term was actually used very little or not at all. After graduating in 2003, I worked at a large retirement fund. Our goal: get more people to look at their retirement. At that time, I came across an interesting article about people who were put in a scan where researchers could see what was happening in the brain. I thought: I want to discover this. So, I started reading more about it. My advantage was that I did a lot of market research and testing at work. I continued with that and applied everything I could find in the scientific literature. I really liked it and it also worked, so I started applying it to my colleagues. That's how I rolled into it.”
Can you still walk quietly through the supermarket without realizing how we are all affected? What do you notice while walking along the shelves?
“No. You probably know the products in the refrigerator compartment. These refrigerators are closed with doors, not sliding doors, but doors that you have to pull on. This is done consciously. The natural response of our hands is a grab response. So, if you can make that grab reaction by opening the door, you would be more likely to grab something from that cooler. In the supermarket you are more often unconsciously influenced than you realize. I also fall for it myself. But I recognize the marketing tricks, so I can arm myself a little better against it.”
Which companies do you find interesting in the field of neuromarketing, are there also fashion companies?
“The problem: you cannot always see whether companies are using neuromarketing, they do not want to announce it. One would call it neuromarketing, another will say it is online marketing and the next will say they are working on webdesign.
If you look at fashion you could not only look at the advertising of fashion companies, but also in the design of fashion you could apply neuromarketing. As humans, we have a kind of primal thought about what we think an attractive face looks like. For women this is an oval face.
Designers know that you can adjust your face shape by making a particular collar or wearing a particular accessory. Actually, people always look first at someone’s face. As a fashion brand you want every woman to look attractive in your clothes. So, you have to ensure that your clothes give every woman, with whatever face shape, an oval face. This will give them a positive feeling about the brand which leads to better sales.”
What do you find the most interesting way of influencing people unconsciously?
“For me it’s very simple: use the resources you have with you every day. You could influence someone by sitting on a couch instead of a chair during an interview. But the most interesting thing is influencing people without the need of anything else. For example, you can influence people enormously with your hands, nobody realizes that. You can read everything from someone's posture, and you can discover someone's character from their face. Influencing is perhaps the wrong word, I always say: to help someone make a choice.
Neuromarketing is quite an expensive business. For example, if you look at the research method in which you place people in a scanner, which you can compare with an MRI scan in a hospital, these are very expensive studies. Not every company can afford that, so neuromarketing would in first instance only be reserved for the very large companies. But neuromarketing goes beyond just examining people under a scan, there are many more tools to influence people unconsciously. For example, a "heat map" which shows how people navigate through your website, as a company you can respond to that. There are many more comparable examples of cheaper tools.”