On Neuromarketing, Cristina de Balanzó the Main Nut of Walnut (I/III)

Edgar Sánchez, Senior Neuromarketing Consultant, Ph.D. Neurosciences

Carolina Castioni, Junior Consultant




Edgar Sánchez (ES): Hello, I am with Cristina de Balanzó the main Nut of Walnut Consumer Neuroscience Consultancy. Christina thank you very much for taking time for this conversation.


Cristina de Balanzó (CdB): Thank you, Thank you.


ES: Cristina, let’s go to the basics first. What is Neuromarketing?


Cristina: I think you can find many definitions about what Neuromarketing is, but I think the most important thing is to understand how the power of the unconscious in the decision making processing. I think this is our fundamentals. You know, we exist because unconscious importance. Therefore, we need to understand this, if we want to predict, understand or change behavior. This is for me, I mean obviously we can overcomplicate the definition and say this well is something that comes from the cognitive neuroscience to understand, marketing activities, this is something that describes. I think this is the essence of what Neuromarketing is, is to understand the power of unconscious and decision making process.


ES: Great. What are the complexities of Neuromarketing?


CdB: I think we have many complexities. Since we have started. Talking this got a lot of detractors and people that cannot see how Neuromarketing can be there, in the center role of these new tools. The big challenge is actually to we as an industry is to make all these insights into something actionable. I think this is a key challenge that we have, you know, like first to give a role in this. I think we have been listening all these speakers [In the Neuromarketing World Forum] talking about importance of integration. I think integration is key because maybe when Neuromarketing was started, we were talking about replacement [of the traditional Market Research]. I think this was quite wrong, so now we had to tweak to reposition ourselves in the industry. Enough to be relevant for the added value that we are offering, because at the end of the day it’s gonna be more expensive because we are adding something. So the key challenge is to really provide to the client the evidence about the added value of our work.

ES: And that’s a complex thing

CdB: Yes, It’s very complex.



ES: So, your conception of Neuromarketing is a complement to the traditional of market research.

CdB: Yeah, I am always saying this. On this I don’t have to make my mind. First time I started in this field. I have been always saying the same: we are working for integration and not replacement. I know so because I think neuroscience is having a dimension that was hidden before, but to understand human beings, and it’s the complexity, we still need to observe what people do, to describe this behavior. at the same time to talk to these people and to get these… I think this is the way we humanize the data, as well, you know like the emotional way has all been something that just people can’t articulate, but then neuroscience establishes these facts, you know things that you want to talk about based on something. So that’s why the whole paradigm makes sense.


ES: Good, what’s the way to measure the success of Neuromarketing projects, is there any kind ROI, the return of investment?

CdB: Well, depending on the metrics of the client. This is going against you, you can establish, you know, how to measure, how you’re going to measure the effects of the investments, of the return of investment of every single project. You can go both project by project, you know, you can help them to optimize a piece of communication, you know, to see if these are particular piece of coms has worked better, you know, is the way business decisions, the things the Neuro has to be able to achieve, being this client or to have a role and a voice about brad decisions. This is a thing what needed to do. But I think in every, in a project basis, you have to establish this ROI you are looking for, and anyone any other kind they are looking for as well.


ES: Ok, good. Talking about methodology, one piece of methodology of Neuromarketing, how big should be a sample for a Neuromarketing study? on the one hand, and on the other what would be the composition of the sample for the study?

CdB: Well, I think we come back again to the business objectives and the sample you need to look at. I mean, in terms of generally you need depending on how homogeneous is the sample. With EEG, you need a minimum of 40 people in order to have a splits in terms of gender or use it- People are talking about 30 to 40 and you are able to split this data. I think depending on the question and how robust, you know, you want to go for, you need smaller samples, I would say. But there is depending on which techniques you are. I am talking on the EEG and GSR. If you are talking about Eye-Tracking, you can do a qualitative work just ten. But then you can have a massive quantitative study of Eye Tracking, that means 200 people visiting the store. Or in Implicit Testing, normally we have samples, this goes online, and for reducing the noise, you need a kind of 130 as minimum in order to proceed. But again I think we can answer sample size restrictions according to the technique that we are using and then how homogeneous is this sample- Because for instance you go from consumer to health, the sample is much more homogeneous and therefore we can go for if we normally need these 40 people, we can go with 15, because these doctors, you know. health practitioners like hematologists are quite homogeneous and therefore we can go with much more sample size.



ES: Anything is perfect, Neuromarketing is not an exception, so what are limitations of Neuromarketing?

CdB: Well, I mean, I think there are many limitations, and neuroscience is something that we are getting close to the answers, like how advertising works, you know, that is a massive question with no answers I think neuroscience is adding an additional insight to this kind of questions that no one has been able to answer. So I think neuroscience effectively is helping to understand this, you know, has put on the table many things that before. just we could maybe test by our intuition, you know, it’s like this like this is gonna work because these are some elements while now we have an evidence like our faces, as our colleagues are saying, are important as to stories that put our culture into work, that’s why helps to get the engagement. So I think now that we have started to have a little lot of brand learnings and we are getting a kind of body of knowledge, you know, to have this intuition to something that has been scientifically proven. So neuroscience can make tangible, you know, what, many many years ago meanings as well, many people as well have been saying, you know, how this element is actually giving the whole engagement. This rational level, it didn’t make any sense, but now it can make it tangible, and I think neuroscience is what is good at, you know to show scientifically a proof that this is happening.


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