Buyology: Can Brain Scans Provide More Accurate Insights Into Consumer Behavior?

Buyology is an interesting book because it describes a completely new approach to marketing research. Instead of traditional methods of research such as surveys, or focus groups, Buyology explores a new frontier in marketing research, neuromarketing.

Specifically, Martin Lindstrom, describes scientific studies in which subject’s brains are scanned to see what parts of their brain lights up when exposed to certain marketing stimuli such as a brand logo or an advertisement. When different regions of our brain are active, the increased energy requirement means an increased flow of oxygenated blood to that region, which the fMRI can detect and display in a visual format. Lindstrom uses data from these studies to disprove commonly held beliefs in advertising, such as the effectiveness of subliminal advertising and that warning labels on smoking packaging can actually encourage smoking.

According to the book, roughly 90% of consumer buying behavior is unconscious, which is part of the reason Lindstrom believes nueromarketing can a more effective method to find out what consumers really want and reduce the number of product failures.

“Markers and advertisers on the other hand have spent over a century, throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick. The fact is that most marketing, advertising branding strategies is a guessing game…Until now marketers and advertisers haven’t really known what drives our behavior so they’ve had to rely on luck, coincidence, chance, or repeating the same old tricks all over again. But now that we know that roughly 90% of our consumer buying behavior is unconscious, the time has come for a paradox shift.”

I think this book is a very interesting read, though it is difficult for most marketers to implement fMRI studies without thousands or millions of dollars to spend on this new field of marketing. However, it looks very promising, as marketing becomes more science and numbers driven in the future.

You can download a free chapter of Buyology at the Martin Lindstrom website.