Today, businesses continuously monitor what consumers buy but it is always difficult for them to find out 'why' they buy or how meticulously their thought process functions in making buying decisions. This is the reason why many marketers have started taking interest in understanding human brain through various brain mapping tools for understanding their consumer in a better way. Further various neuroimaging techniques like EEG (Electroencephalography), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), have enabled researchers to plot the crucial brain activity of an individual in response to various marketing stimuli. This paper aims to explore how the emerging field of Neuromarketing plays a pivotal role in unveiling the enigma of consumer psychology and presents neuromarketing as a way to detect brain activation during customer engagement.

The term neuromarketing was coined by Ale Smidts (2002), a Dutch marketing expert. The concept of neuromarketing was developed by psychologists at Harvard and the best known technique of neuromarketing was developed by Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman (1990) which was patented under name ZMET (Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique). Implications of Neuromarketing in consumer research through studying key brain mechanisms were identified by Solanais et. al. (2013). These mechanisms were identified as decision making, reward processing, motivation, emotional processing, attention and memory.

Neuromarketing is basically a junction where neuroscience and behavioural research interacts with the discipline and practice of marketing i.e. how and why a buyer responds to a marketing stimuli depending on his neurological sensory-motor, cognitive and affective responses. Tremendous advancements in medical diagnostic techniques have empowered neuroscientists to critically study the activity of cortex region of human brain in the terms of frequency, time, and space which is quickly adopted and applied in consumer psychology for understanding and predicting buyer behaviour and to eventually increase the efficacy of the marketing strategies of firms, harnessing them competitive edge and commercial advantage. Some researchers and organisations have started using Neuromarketing as an alternative to conventional consumer research methods like Google and Frito-Lays which deployed neuromarketing firm in 2008 to identify consumer response towards its cheese puff brand 'Cheetos'.

BrightHouse Neurostrategies group of the USA, established in 2001, was among the first ones to market the commercial studies on neuromarketing by collaborating with the neurosciences laboratory from Emory Universitry. Many European companies have also actively engaged themselves in this field, one of which known as Shopconsult which collaborated with Lutwig-Boltzmann Institute, claims the paternity of the concept of Neuromarkating.

Neuromarketing utilizes following interdisciplinary branches for its implications into present day marketing:

Neuroanatomy – Structural study of the nervous system and its tissues.

Neurology – Study of clinical consequences of the pathology of the nervous system and their treatments.

Neuro-psychology – Study of the clinical consequences of the nervous system pathology, the cognitive aspect, intelligence and emotions.

Neuro-endocrinology – studies the connections between the nervous and the hormonal system.

Cognitive neurosciences – Study of the connections between the nervous and the cognitive systems i.e. knowledge and learning centres (through memorization, reason, emotions and language)

Neuromarketing is certainly guiding marketers for designing preferred products and services as well as crafting hard-hitting ad messages which eventually boost sales response. 'NeuroFocus' of Berkley, California, 'EmSense' of San Franscisco, and 'Sands Research' of Texas are some of the eminent firms providing Neuromarketing services to prestigious brands like Google, Hyundai, Microsoft, Walt Disney and Pepsico. The company representatives at Procter and Gamble acclaimed that neruomarketing has enabled the successful release of its new fabric refreshner category brand – 'Febreze' while for Motorola it has played a vital role in brand positioning.

Among its various applications, Neuromarketing predominantly finds its role in extracting information hidden in consumers' mind and designing products and services accordingly.

Dr. Pallavi Chandwaskar

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