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Recovered Cheat Sheets for Neuromarketing for Dummies

February 15, 2024 0 Comments

I recently learned that the cheat sheet(s) for Neuromarketing for Dummies on the original Wiley site have gone missing. So I dug through my notes and found several draft cheat sheets that I think went into whatever Wiley ended up posting on their site. I’m posting that content here for anyone who might be looking for them.

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What is Neuromarketing?

The term neuromarketing refers to the use of modern brain science to measure the impact of marketing and advertising on consumers. For decades marketers have sought to understand what consumers were thinking, but have relied on traditional techniques, that is, asking them what they think in focus groups and surveys.

Today’s new techniques are based scientific principles about how humans really think and decide, which involves nonconscious brain processes that our conscious minds are not aware of. When combined with sound experimental designs and procedures, these new techniques provide insights into consumer decisions and actions that are invisible to traditional market research methodologies.

Neuromarketing is not a new kind of marketing, it is a new way to study marketing, and so is part of the field of market research. Here are some areas where neuromarketing is being applied, and some of the tools and technologies it uses (for more details, see Neuromarketing for Dummies, Chapters 9-14 and 16-18).

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Where neuromarketing is being used today

Six major areas where neuromarketing is used today

Branding Brands are ideas in the mind that draw strength from the connections they make. Neuromarketing provides powerful techniques for measuring brand associations.
Product design and innovation Neuromarketing can measure consumer responses to product ideas and package designs that are largely automatic, emotional, and outside our conscious awareness.
Advertising effectiveness Much advertising impacts us through nonconscious means, even though we do not think it does. Neuromarketing explains how.
Shopper decision-making Neuromarketing shows how store environments directly influence how shoppers decide and buy, and it’s not a logical process.
Online experiences The online world provides new challenges to our old brains. Brain science shows the many ways we can be subtly influenced as we go about our online activities.
Entertainment effectiveness Effective entertainment is direct stimulation of the brain. Neuro-marketing shows how and why entertainment can transport into an imaginary world.

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Tools and techniques used in neuromarketing

Techniques based on response times and behavior (sensor-free)

Semantic and affective priming, Implicit Association Test (IAT) Simple, scalable, inexpensive, and easy to interpret techniques for measuring priming, preferences, choices, and implicit associations among concepts and ideas.
Eye tracking A very popular standalone technique in neuromarketing studies, and is also regularly combined with other approaches when studying visual materials. Webcam-based eye tracking is scalable, easy to do, and inexpensive.
Facial expression analysis Uses either expert analysts or automated software to infer emotional responses from observable facial expressions.
Behavioral experiments Especially useful for testing hypotheses based on behavioral economics, because they focus on the influence of situational factors on consumer decisions and actions.


Techniques based on physiological or biometric responses (sensor-based)

Electrodermal activity (EDA) Measures perspiration production associated with emotional intensity or arousal.
Electromyography (EMG) A precise way to measure facial muscle movements associated with automatic emotional responses, which can occur below the level of observable facial expressions.
Respiration & heart rate Breathing speed and depth (fast, slow, shallow) and the beating rate of the heart are indicators of various physiological reactions, such as attention, arousal, and effort.
Startle reflex A robust indirect measure of motivation (approach or avoidance) toward an object of attention, based on eye blinks after hearing an unexpected loud sound.


Techniques based on brain responses (sensor-based)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) A brain measurement technique that reads minute changes magnetic fields produced by the brain. Expensive and complex equipment, seldom used in commercial neuromarketing.
Electroencephalography (EEG) A popular neuromarketing technology that measures small electrical fields generated by brain activity.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) The most powerful brain imaging technology, mostly used in academic research, but provided by a few neuromarketing vendors. Measures brain activity based on blood flow to active regions of the brain.

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Using Brain Science for Marketing

Traditional marketing is often based on a rational consumer model that views the consumer as persuadable by rational arguments and consciously aware of what drives their purchase decisions.  However, brain science research has demonstrated that an intuitive consumer model provides a more realistic picture of how consumers actually decide and buy. The following table presents the key differences between these two models:

The Rational Consumer Model The Intuitive Consumer Model
Information about brands and products drives purchase decisions. Habit, experience, and emotional cues provide shortcuts to making decisions.
Factual information can be retrieved by the consumer, completely and accurately. Feelings about products and brands are the main memories retrieved by consumers, who are not generally persuaded by facts.
Preferences are determined rationally. They are clear, unambiguous, and enduring. Preferences are rarely the products of careful logical analysis.  More often they are inferred from the consumer’s behavior, rather than the other way around.
A cost-benefit calculation is made to make a purchase decision at the point-of-purchase. Most purchase decisions are made spontaneously and without much conscious deliberation at the point of purchase.
Preferences can only be changed by presenting new information. Product and brand preferences can be changed by changing the situation within which the consumer is shopping.
Marketing and advertising communications are messages that deliver rational, logical arguments about brands and products. Marketing and advertising primarily influence consumers in nonconscious ways.  At a conscious level, consumers believe ads and marketing have no effect on them.
Marketing and communications can only influence consumers by providing logical arguments that are consciously remembered at the point of sale. The primary way that advertising influences the consumer is indirectly, through repetitive association of the advertised brand or product with positive themes and images.

Marketers and market researchers have to become familiar with what is happening in the intuitive consumer’s nonconscious mind if they want to understand and shape brand preferences and purchase decisions.  Brain scientists have pioneered a range of research methodologies that are now becoming available in consumer research through neuromarketing.  Read Neuromarketing for Dummies to find out more.

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Applying Neuromarketing to Advertising

The traditional model of advertising effectiveness assumes a direct, conscious route from viewing an ad to making a purchase. Advances in brain science have identified an alternative route that takes into account nonconscious processes, called the indirect route. Each route is more likely to succeed in different circumstances

  Direct route to advertising effectiveness Indirect route to advertising effectiveness
Purpose To communicate a simple and logical argument that persuades consumers to buy a product either by reinforcing their current preferences or by changing their preferences from a competing product A two-step model:
first, advertising affects brand equity by changing brand attitudes, memory, and intentions toward the brand; second, brand attitudes and associations impact sales at the point of purchase
Emphasis Attention

Conscious processing

Logical argument

Explicit recall

Immediate sales

Emotional connections

Non-conscious processing

Implicit memory

Brand attitudes

Future sales

When it works the best The product is new or novel

The product’s category is new or novel

The product is expensive and purchased infrequently

The purpose of the ad is to generate a direct response rather than an impression leading to a sale in the future


The product and its category are well-established and familiar

The ad minimizes information and message content and focuses on an emotionally engaging narrative in which the brand plays a central role

The product is inexpensive and purchase frequently, so the ad is aimed at building or reinforcing longer-term associations with the brand

Source: Neuromarketing for Dummies, Chapter 11.


About the Author:

Steve is a writer, speaker, researcher, and marketing consultant. He is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019), a study of persuasion and influence in marketing theory and practice, and co-author of Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013), a comprehensive overview of neuromarketing science, applications, methodologies, and ethics. He is Managing Partner at Intuitive Consumer Insights, where he focuses on marketing education and consulting.

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