Neuromarketing, Interview with Steve Genco leading author “Neuromarketing for Dummies” (II/III)

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This is the second part of the interview about Neuromarketing with Steve Genco leading author “Neuromarketing for Dummies”


Go to the first part of the interview where we talk about the definition of Neuromarketing, and other things such as perception and sample size.



Edgar Sánchez (E.S.) : Anything is perfect, Neuromarketing is not an exception, what are the limitations in Neuromarketing?

Steve Genco (S.G.): Well, you know there’s a lot of limitations. The first one is that most people don’t even like the term Neuromarketing. In the field before people realized that It was a confusing term, Neuromarketing implies a different  type of marketing. Marketing to the neuro, marketing to the brain, we are all marketing as Neuromarketers. The idea of Neuromarketing is more manipulative, more threatening, it’s, it’s …making us do things that we might not want to do. In fact that’s what marketing ….I mean what marketing is. Marketing is persuasion, you persuade, influence, seduce or seduction…you know to do, what you want them to do and apply various techniques and already get you to do it. Neuromarketing is simply making measurements, measuring different things in order to see how effective efforts and influences are. So it’s not a method of influence itself, it’s a measurement I think to get you out from the wrong track.

What are the other challenges with neuromarketing? I’ve read some things about this and I think I remember…uh..some points I’ve made , I think that scalability is a big issue so to be able to handle the needs of very large companies who want to do research all over the world and turn around over night, you know scale and speed are challenging, the more sophisticated  methodology, the harder is to meet those demands.

I think Neuromarketing needs to move away from this black box, a secret methodology and knowledge, you know. I have a secret formula that’s gonna give you information that’s better than anybody else’s gonna give you. I think the quality that the competitive advantages of Neuromarketing, companies do not come and have secret methodologies, that’s particularly incredible, it comes in having insights and in having methods and procedures that have produced consistent quality results.

I would go with a vendor, who I know. If they do ten studies for me, those ten studies all would have the same high level of quality so I can rely on the results. That’s a much more of the competitive advantage than talking of some secret algorithm.

So I think that the important thing is, the really  big issue is that Neuromarketing speaks the language of science and marketing speaks a language of insights and consumer needs and we really have a kind of a goal between these two ways of talking about things.

So I’ve noticed when I talk to people that are on the insight teams  in marketing sitting around the table taking about what kind of insights will we develop to add to the value of our product to make consumers feel more, you know, willing to use our products to increase the size of their market shares and so on, they’re speaking a completely different language than Neuromarketers. Neuromarketers say I’m measuring Attention and Emotion and Memory and the marketers and insight team  say how is that related to sales and loyalty and other factors that we’re interested in and there’s a gap in the language, in the terminology. Actually I think that both sides need to move together, I think marketing needs to take full advantage of Neuromarketing and Marketings needs sometimes to ask different questions Neuromarketers need to be providing the answers that are more relevant to the needs of Marketers. They can meet in the middle . So that’s the picture.



E.S.:  It’s quite a multi-disciplinary job, trying to construct a common language to…


E.S.: Nowadays, we the human beings, are living in the biggest accessibility of knowledge era. Either it is very cheap or free to ask knowledge, on the one hand. On the other hand in the context of Neuromarketing as time’s going by, the price of the technology surges because there is more competence and many other factors are going down. So we are facing a context with these two characteristics, more accessibility to knowledge and more accessibility to technology, as time is going by. I have meet, read people claiming that are doing Neuromarketing with not necessarily a clear background. What are the characteristics, the requirements to become a good Neuromarketer or to identify a good Neuromarketer. Somehow you said about the scientific background, the scientific training. Is there any other important feature to search or to prepare in order to become a Neuromarketer?


S.G.: Well, to be fair, we don’t have the two trends go together, you can learn from the scientific production of others. You don’t have to do every experiment yourself. On the other hand you need to be able to distinguish between things that are a sort of achieving. Achieving is acceptance in the scientific community and things that may better one-off study. A lot of times you will see folks that are not scientists themselves will say, I’ve just read a study in science daily that said if you use these three words, if your solicitation on your website will increase conversion like 43%. That’s one study. You need to understand: was that a novelty or was that something that was inconsistent, unreliable. So you can develop a repository of knowledge. There are some things that scientific results can be replicably used in situations where you kinda know they’re gonna work. They worked before, there’s an expectation they’re gonna work again, you can use that knowledge to make a prediction, I think what’s gonna happen here, is this is gonna be the result, and, you know, if that’s based on scientific knowledge, it’s useful information to the person that you communicate that too. So you don’t have to do a study every time, but you do have to know what is a kind of a really solid replicable results. We know something like for example processing and fluency, the human mind prefers things that are easy to process so if you have an advertisement that is very busy, there’s all kinds of visual things all over, multiple fonts and little isolated pictures, very busy very complex, that it’s going to be harder for the human brain to process than something that’s much simpler. So if you asked me which of these two will be the best ad, I could say this one because it’s simpler and the brain prefers simple and probably I’d be right, so if you go to do the study you’d see that’s the result but you need to know which of those things are kind of solid, predictable things and which are one-off, might happen in one study, but we don’t really know what we have or which is expected to happen in other boundary conditions around which it remains valid maybe outside those boundary condition is not….


That means, again, is somehow a scientific training to have the possibility to distinguish the boundaries, the possibility to extrapolate.


S.G.: If you’re evaluating Neuromarketing vendors, there should be a scientists around…they should be….maybe they’re …you’re not going to have a world class PhD neuroscientist on your project but you want to know that the intellectual property of the company is being developed by and is being run through the scientific knowledge of some scientist…who knows, who has the background and the experience to help that company be accurate  in what it’s presenting.


E.S.: In management, in the last thirty or forty years, we have seen fashions such as Total Quality Management (TQM) such as Six Sigma. Is Neuromarketing another fashion, another trendy thing? Or is it more permanent?


S.G.: If it is, it’s not a very successful one, because we haven’t really had the kind of massive adoption that Six Sigmam Reengineering, many of  the other management facts we’ve come across. I think Neuromarketing is real, but it’s counter intuitive it in the terms of  the way a lot of people that have had abandoned the marketing field for a long time in other way than they think. Ironically, one of the lessons of Neuromarketing is that if you’re really comfortable and familiar with one way of doing things, it’s really really hard, you kind a chuck up over the shoulder and say I’m starting to think about it this way. So, I think Neuromarketing has a growth curve and I think as I talked before. This may be a generation of change. There’s resistance, so in Neuromarketing guys have to come in, and explain what they do and explain some of these questions that you asked about sample size is real and so on and I believe that people that are coming out of business school today, and they are being subjective to more learning, which regard to what we know about the brain as part of their education as they move in to their positions of power they’re gonna demand that we don’t have a limited view of how we understand Neuromarketing thinking about the whole view. So there will be a more gradual transition and there’ll always be room for a kind of bit classic , subjective kinds of data and information because what people think they think is important. Even if there may be a discrepancy between what they think they think and what they actually do , you wanna know what they think they think as well. So, that’s not gonna go away but I think that a larger proportion of the research project is gonna be like spent on some of these new kinds of measures and integrate them in new kinds of measures.


I want to continue reading the third part (final part)




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