Some experiences considered as references have highlighted the principles on which Neuromarketing is based. The enthusiasm of the scientific literature and the media for these experiments has contributed to the democratization of Neuromarketing.

Pepsi/Cola experiences

Considered as the pioneers of neuromarketingM. McClure et Read Montague conducted an experiment in October 2004 that unveiled one of the greatest paradoxes in the history of brands.

Indeed, they revealed that the consumer was not choosing his products in a rational way. The two researchers carried out a simple test, which consisted of a tasting of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. 67% of the individuals said they preferred Pepsi in the blind test. In a second step, the people tested the drinks by knowing their brand. In this case, 75% say they prefer Coca-Cola.  Thus, researchers show that consumption does not buy a taste, emotions and a memory associated with a brand.

This experience shows that brand’s image and history strongly influence the consumer in his choice.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are chemically almost identical, however, individuals largely prefer Coca-Cola. Mc Clure scanned the brains of the volunteers using fMRI during the experiment. He showed that the brain perceives stronger emotions with Coca-Cola than with Pepsi. Thus, the researchers concluded that their research indicated that two brain systems, one concerning taste and the other concerning cultural influence, were involved in determining preferences.

Advertising memory

McClure and Montague’s experience, although the most cited, is not the first. Rossiter carried out an experiment in 2001 on the memorization of an advertisement. To do this, he uses the EEG (electroencephalogram). He concludes that the 1.5-second extracts are better memorized than the shorter ones. Bernard Roullet and Olivier Droulers resume this study and report that these brain analyses allow to obtain results contrary to what interviews would have revealed.

In short, this experiment made it possible to show the importance of memorizing an advertisement. This has inspired many other experiences, such as Michel Desmurget‘s, which shows that most of the information our brain processes is at an unconscious level. Thus, to make an advertisement memorize, it is more effective to focus on unconscious factors of memorization, such as stress. We can take the example of the Benetton brand, which used images of oiled birds or concentration camps for its advertising campaigns. To mark the consumer’s mind, brand played on the shocking images.

Importance of emotion

A third experience can be considered as the founder of Neuromarketing. This is Brian Knutson‘s experience on the importance of emotion in decision-making.

To do this, he asks volunteers to do their shopping under fMRI. By analyzing fMRIs, Knutson can predict purchasing decisions with 70% accuracy. Zones are more or less activated if the consumer is aware of the price. When a product is attractive, an area attributed to the anticipation of pleasure is activated. But if the price displayed is excessive, the area of the brain related to the pain sensation is activated and inhibits the activation of the first one.

This experiment has been cited nearly 400 times in the scientific press. 

The influence of these three experiences on the following

Knutson’s experience marks a turning point in Neuromarketing. We move from observation to prediction. In other words, neuromarketing is entering a new phase.

Most of the following experiences seem to be a continuation of the above-mentioned experiences

Martin Lindstrom studied the relationship between Apple users and their Iphones. Following neural tests, he states that this relationship is not an addictive relationship but rather a romantic one. Loyalty is the key point. He even goes so far as to mention a spiritual relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Hilke Plassman did an experiment in 2008. The latter consists to announce the price of each bottle. In reality, there was only one wine poured into the different glasses, but most volunteers said they preferred wine at the highest price. Thus, this experience demonstrates the influence of price on taste. McClure and Montague’s and Knutson’s inspired this experience.

It should be noted that all these experiments were carried out in the United States.