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Neuromarketing vs. Traditional Market Research: Less Bias, More Insight

Neuromarketing is the new kid on the block - breaking up the status quo and ruffling some feathers along the way.

It’s about time.

Although traditional market research still has a place in the world, Neuromarketing offers a layer of depth and insight that traditional market research simply cannot access. Traditional market research relies on self-report methodologies which are fraught with a number of biases that can skew the results.

Consider this, you’ve agreed to partake in a market research study and you’re standing in a supermarket with a researcher standing beside you, clipboard in hand. You pick up a product and they ask, “Why did you choose that product?” A number of problems emerge if we attempt to answer this question within a traditional market research framework.

These include:

Response Bias

The first main bias that comes into play is response bias. We are only human and there are a number of things in an interview setting that can influence our answers. You may be influenced by the interviewer and the environment you’re in, the way the questions are phrased, or by an unconscious desire to be a “good” respondent and provide the interviewer with the answers you think they want to hear.

Self-assessment Bias

The second core bias is known as self-assessment bias, or self-report bias. This is your inability to assess your emotions and express your true emotional state using consistent language and terminology. Emotions are so granular and fleeting that they are very difficult to identify and express verbally. One person’s “happy” is not the same as the next person’s “happy”, and that leaves your response open to misinterpretation.

Researcher Bias

The third is known as researcher bias. Traditional market research relies heavily on the interpretation of the researcher(s) and theoretical models - both of which are often not scientific. The result is information that is left open to interpretation, and studies that cannot be easily replicated nor blinded (the practice of preventing the researcher’s own interpretation of the conclusions being drawn from the data) nor controlled.

Neuromarketing offers a number of methodologies that do not rely on the researcher’s own interpretative frameworks and hence are less prone to researcher bias.

In Conclusion

It’s safe to say that Neuromarketing is disrupting the way we do research. It bypasses the biases and goes straight to the source, the subconscious. It provides granular insights that would never have been achieved through traditional market research.

In addition, Neuromarketing provides a number of methodologies that elicit a quantitative output of emotional and cognitive states on a per second basis. These include aspects such as emotion, memory, attention, motivation and engagement; all of which are poorly measured using traditional methodologies, yet are essential to understanding the consumer decision making process.

Neuromarketing further offers much more rigour compared with traditional market research methodologies. It may not replace these methodologies outright, but it certainly enhances them and adds a level of robustness to the quality and reliability of the outputs.

Traditional research is just that, traditional, and the modern marketing world needs new and innovative ways to better understand consumer behaviour. Fortunately, Neuromarketing is just that - cutting-edge research that uses the best in consumer neuroscience and biometric technology to limit bias so that we can truly understand human emotion and decision making.

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