– Adriana González Gil
When we talk about our neuroscience laboratory one of the technologies that attract most of the attention is the electroencephalography or EEG. These devices are noninvasive electrophysiological monitoring tools designed to record the electrical activity of the brain for medical diagnostic purposes and have traditionally involved dozens of electrodes, cables and conducting gels. However, technological innovation has made it possible to produce portable EEG devices that are easy to set up and wear, which has opened the door of neuroscience to researchers of other areas of knowledge and, most importantly, to businesses.
How is EEG used in neuromarketing?
This technology lets researchers measure consumer responses to all kinds of stimuli, from traditional advertising and marketing actions to products, packaging, websites and mobile apps. Since the devices are portable and wireless, the sensors are placed comfortably on the head and the consumer can interact with the stimuli as he normally would while researchers get live feedback of his brainwaves to determine if they are engaged and experiencing a positive emotional response, or not paying attention, for example.
This is a breakthrough in market research because consumers are not usually fully aware of their preferences or the elements that trigger a given emotional response. In an interview or focus group a consumer could, for instance, say that they liked a certain piece of audiovisual advertising, but most likely they would not be able to say which elements and moments were crucial into forming this positive opinion. An EEG, on the other hand, can tell us exactly which seconds had a high engagement and which ones caused stress or weren’t interesting at all, and this information can help us be more effective and less annoying to our consumers.
For example, in a recent experiment conducted at Unilever’s headquarters in Bucharest we measured the brain reactions of people while walking through a store. Consciously, a regular customer would not be able to tell us if a certain kind of illumination of the presence of some smells make a difference in their experience unless it is something extremely good or bad, but through the use of EEG we were able to see exactly which aisles and sensorial inputs were responsible for the moments of best and worst emotional response.
Does this mean that we manipulate our consumers minds to make them buy things they don’t want? No. Advertising is already there and companies are already investing millions in product design, packaging design, secondary placement, SEM amongst a large number of other actions. We just identify which actions effective and useful, and which ones are intrusive and annoying, to reduce the risk of investment for companies and build better experiences for clients.
Example of EEG used to measure emotions during a shopping experience
What exactly can EEGs measure?
- Frontal hemispheric asymmetry (wave frequency differences between the left and right frontal regions of the brain) is used by many neuromarketers as a measure of approach-avoidance responses to products and brands. These frontal asymmetries occur as quickly as 200 milliseconds after exposure to a stimulus and have been found to predict consumer choice and behavior even more reliably than those consumers’ expressions of their own preferences.
- Brainwave frequency analysis, or the measurement of power of brain activity occurring at different frequencies and the correlation of brainwave frequencies in different parts of the brain, has been used in market research since the 1970’s. It lets us predict engagement and product preferences.
- Event-related potentials (ERPs) measure brain signals that occur directly in response to some event and can be used to assess, for example, brand associations, personal relevance or emotional judgement.
But how do we transform these very technical measurements into something that is understandable and, above all, useful to brands? In our labs we use specific softwares that allow us translate brainwaves into emotional parameters like stress, interest or excitement, so we take raw brain data and deliver meaningful insights that anyone can understand for personal and professional use.
Want to know more or test one of your actions with our EEG technolgies? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com