Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA)

Articles and Blogposts

  • September 02, 2015 09:15 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Decode Marketing

    Leveraging decision science for British Telecom

    BT operates in a highly competitive market (broadband, TV, phone) in the UK vs Sky, Virgin and others. Response rates to their offers had been falling and they had to meet aggressive sales targets. They needed a new approach because their ”traditional” research was not giving them the reasons for the low response.

    This was a consultancy approach to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communications. Recommendations were made based on principles of perception, attention, cognition and motivation from the fields of ”decision science” (cognitive psychology, neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics). No research was conducted.

    The advice was executed in direct response TV and print advertising. Response rates rose by 85% and 76% respectively compared to their previous benchmarks. As a result they met their aggressive sales targets and customer acquisition costs were halved. The client (General Manager, Marketing) commented that these response rates were “the highest in living memory”at BT.

    The conclusion, as an ex-Marketing VP myself, is ”if only Marketing knew what science knows”. In this case, no research was required - simply the application of principles already studied and known in the fields of decision science.

    Contact Information
    Decode marketing ltd, United Kingdom
    Contact Person:
    Phil Barden,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • August 11, 2015 13:27 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: AAT Research

    Testing website design and user interaction for GFI Software

    The project for GFI Software was related to the company’s process of re-designing its key customer-facing website,, and designing and launching The two sites are positioned to engage with a number of target user groups. The organization of content (text, photography and video) within the overall design and layout schemas of the new sites are critical factors in  determining whether users will actually interact with content in the manner envisaged by the GFI project team -i.e., whether they will progress to specific inner pages within the site, click on promotions, engage with specific areas, proceed to checkout, etc. 

    GFI entrusted AAT Research to apply its neuromarketing expertise and proprietary technology to conduct in-depth usability analysis of the proposed design schemas of the new sites by testing a large number of webpage templates (screens). At AAT we were confident that we were in a position to help optimize GFI’s online marketing and customer relationship management operations by focusing on the areas of the brain that would produce the desired response in GFI target demographic groups. In the process, this will help GFI secure a competitive advantage in an aggressive marketplace.

    GFI Software opted for neuromarketing testing as opposed to their usual market testing using focus groups due to the high importance they attributed to these new websites. They believed that neuromarketing techniques could assist them in creating a more engaging experience for their new and regular customers. AAT Research and GFI had already successfully collaborated on a neuromarketing project related to software design so it was only natural that we would extend our collaboration to the testing of the design and functionality of their websites. 

    The project was divided into two phases. The aim of the first phase of the study was to obtain physiological evidence on how people respond to specific elements of the dummy website design using screenshots. A specific battery of tests to highlight sections of the site that triggered “user friendliness” and attention were accurately designed. The website was then created with these results as guidelines. The aim of the second phase was to test the subjects’ physiological response to the actual website design and functionality once it was put online.

    In a project with the scope and scale of the GFI Project, data was gathered using a range of equipment including a clinical 21-channel EEG system, eye-tracking cameras, Galvanic Skin Response, and purposely built software for cognitive analysis and analysis of mouse movement when navigating through the actual website. By analyzing EEG readings, it is possible to detect the processes that lead to certain decisions and to determine the part of the brain that implemented these processes. The additional physiological data gathered on changes in skin temperature, eye movement, as well as mouse movement and clicks, creates a more holistic and accurate picture of the subjects’ responses to specific triggers.

    The results show that the most effective parts of the webpages are those which mention the company’s products. Subjects focused on these areas as these are the details that offer a product to the customer.

    They lingered on these details as they tried to figure out which product could be of use to them. Sections of the websites which attracted attention were those with colorful details and a visually stimulating layout. This is important to maintain the overall attention span of the subject. If the subject gets bored he or she will quickly move on to another page. Some areas which had too many focal points, created by colored details or buttons, did not hold attention for a considerable period on a particular area, but the eyes, and mouse, moved from one section to the other quickly. This means that the subjects did not stop to consider the information that was given at each section.

    Subjects generally do not focus on areas which contain a lot of text, but read subtitles which are usually in a different color or held in a colored button. These therefore contain short but effective information from which the subjects obtain an indication of what can be of personal interest.

    Users, especially those who are executive, do not have much time on their hands so they need brief details that give enough information quickly, without having to scroll or enter other pages.

    The results show that both websites were engaging and maintained the users’ attention and interest. The pages were also visually enticing and the design concept was highly successful. A number of recommendations were made based on the results gathered, particularly regarding the use of colored details, images and text placement.

    The research on this project for GFI shows that neuromarketing can be an integral part of the design process of any product. Testing was done on the first drafts of the design of the webpages. The results indicated to the designers which areas were effective and which needed amending. The final functional website was tested in the second phase. This project indicates that neuromarketing is not just useful for testing final products, but also for testing products in the design phase therefore saving the developer time and money by being set on the right track from the start.

    Final Thoughts
    Neuromarketers can, and should, work hand in hand with designers, engineers and developers, every step of the way.

    Contact Information:
    AAT Research Ltd, Malta
    Contact Person: Krystle Farrugia

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)  

    Interested in neuromarketing applied to retail? Take a look at the website of the Shopper Brain Conference to learn more about this!

  • July 17, 2015 13:46 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neurons Inc 

    Test effects of ad exposure on in-store neural responses for a major North American retail corporation

    Little is still understood about the actual in-store purchase process, and research is often limited by traditional research methods that rely on conscious self-reports. While traditional market research methods only allow recording of actual purchase and customers’ self-reports about the reasons behind their choices, neuromarketing methods allow better assessment and understanding of key unconscious processes underlying consumer choice.

    Here, we report the result of two consumer neuroscience studies that explore whether in-store decisions can be traced to immediate neural responses that precede conscious deliberation.

    In Study 1 we used mobile eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) to identify key neural responses that predict in-store purchase. Customers were asked to complete five different purchase tasks, and were free to use or save money they had previously been given. We used Area of Interest analysis to extract attentional and neural responses when customers looked at a particular product. All data were corrected for movement and eye blink artefacts. To assess customer motivation, we analyzed the prefrontal asymmetry index (PAI) in the gamma frequency. 

    In Study 2 we employed the same methodology to test the effects of prior ad exposure on in-store physiological, neural and behavioral responses. Customers were shown a series of commercials prior to entering the store, and while one group saw a particular commercial for paint, the control group saw all other commercials except this one. We assessed both the level of visual attention and neural motivation (PAI) while customers performed tasks inside the store. Crucially, we compared the effects of prior ads on visual attention and PAI when customers were instructed to purchase paint. 

    Customer in-store choices are rapid and unconscious. Our two studies demonstrate that long before customers are consciously aware of it, unconscious responses are driving their in-store responses. Besides showing this main effect, we demonstrate that prior exposure to ad materials can affect unconscious attentional and motivational responses that ultimately lead to increased chance of purchase. 

    Final Thoughts
    Our results highlight the importance of the assessment and understanding of rapid, unconscious responses in the in-store situation. Our method provides a protocol for assessing these responses, allowing future studies to improve our understanding of the actual drivers of in-store consumer choice. Such studies could explore the effect of entry signs, in-store signage or long-term effects of ad exposure on in-store behavior.

    Contact Information
    Neurons Inc, Denmark
    Contact Person: Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)  

    Interested in neuromarketing applied to retail? Take a look at the website of the Shopper Brain Conference to learn more about this!

  • June 26, 2015 16:26 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neuromatters

    Messages can be conveyed through a variety of media such as written or spoken stories, movies, and advertisements. Their impact on human psychology ranges widely from what events we remember most easily to our choices about important foundational behaviors. Since the brain is the proximate cause of our actions, narratives have a direct impact on the neurobiological processes of both the senders and receivers of them. Understanding how narratives inform neurobiological processes is critical if we are to ascertain what effect narratives have on the psychology and neurobiology of human choices and behaviors. Yet, there is at present a lack of practical and non-invasive sensing platforms to understand, detect and present neural events triggered by narratives, ultimately leading to a predictive model of consumer behavior.

    It has been previously shown, using fMRI and electrocorticography (ECoG), that narratives can evoke synchronized and time-locked activity in many brain areas across listeners when presented with the same stimuli. This neural synchrony has been shown to correlate with retention of events that occur in a narrative, as well as effective comprehension during a two-way dialog. Neural synchrony is also modulated in strength by the narrative content, in the sense that a cohesive narrative elicits stronger neural synchrony. As such, neural synchrony may be an important and valuable tool to assess the effectiveness of a story. However, fMRI and ECoG are not feasible in practice – they are not portable imaging modalities, they are expensive, and, in the case of ECoG, they are invasive.

    Neuromatters is developing a portable, practical, and non-invasive sensing platform (using scalp EEG and other physiological measurements) to capture and decode neural activity elicited by narrative stimuli. The cognitive capture platform will be available as a service to aid in the design of optimal  arratives/ads/movies and will be the first such tool to be validated in predicting behavioral outcomes for targeted demographics.

    Neuromatters is developing the Cognitive Capture™ System (CCS), a software suite for comprehensive neuroanalytics of narratives. Its technologies rest upon Neuromatters’ proprietary modular architecture, which enables easy integration of/with sensors, simulation environments, analytics tools and neural decoding engines. CCS integrates the Neural Synchrony Toolbox™ (NST) with Cognitive Storyboards™ to provide a commercial-grade platform for extracting, decoding and tracking neural activity elicited by complex, realworld stimuli to predict behavioral outcomes, such as purchase intent, brand alignment, memory recall, or other business-relevant behaviors as stipulated by clients and thereby alter human behavior.

    The Cognitive Capture™ System ultimately enables content-creators to produce engaging narratives by providing objective, quantitative and temporally precise measures of viewers’cognitive state throughout the duration of the story.

    Contact Information
    Neuromatters, USA
    Contact Person: Paul DeGuzman

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here
  • June 05, 2015 15:11 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: SalesBrain

    Over the last 20 years, Wafacash has enjoyed a dominant market share in the cash transfer and payment banking business in Morocco. Wafacash is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Attijariwafa banking group which is the largest bank in North Africa and the sixth largest on the African continent. Since its creation, Wafacash has also enjoyed a strong reputation and exemplary financial health. The business of cash handling appeals to a majority of Moroccans who do not trust traditional banks: they value the privacy of saving and paying using cash without the requirement of opening a bank account. A large majority of Wafacash customers live and work outside Morocco. Many customers belong to the lowest income earners in the country, while a significant percentage is illiterate. The retail network of over 1200 outlets makes Wafacash a convenient and friendly solution for people scattered throughout Morocco.

    At the end of 2012, while Wafacash had done its share of consumer studies, the management believed that continuing to conduct focus groups or traditional one-on-one interviews would fail to generate innovative consumer insights. Furthermore, an increasingly competitive environment was putting urgent pressure on Wafacash to re-examine the relevance and strength of its core message. Wafacash therefore approached SalesBrain to explore how neuromarketing methods could yield innovative consumer insights to develop and quickly deploy a more effective advertising and communication strategy.


    SalesBrain proposed a three-step process to:
    1.       generate innovative neuroinsights
    2.       assess key emotional decision drivers from current and future customers
    3.       create a new messaging strategy based on a brand new neurophysiological understanding of customers’ fears and motivations towards the services offered by Wafacash.

    Step 1:
    Generation of neuroinsights through the use of voice layered analysis (LVA) and facial imaging (FI )
    The objective of this phase was to collect customer information that did not entirely depend on selfreports. To achieve this, and considering the challenges of interviewing people who were known by Wafacash to provide over-simplified answers, we recommended the use of LVA software and facial imaging technology. We used LVA software during 24 in-depth qualitative interviews with customers and non-customers. LVA extracts about 20 vocal parameters and uses thousands of mathematical algorithms to identify emotional variables in the interviewee’s voice such as stress level, cognitive overload or sadness.

    We used facial imaging technology to test the neurophysiological effect of current advertising messages on a sample of 24 people. The human face contains 43 muscles, which when contracted in various patterns can display about 5,000 unique expressions or emotions. Seven of these expressions are universal, although their intensity and duration may vary slightly with culture.

    Step 2:
    Quantification of most important emotional drivers
    We performed a face to face study of 300 people with a questionnaire which accounted for the neuroinsights generated in step 1. Data processing included a cluster analysis leading to the creation of two groups of customers with distinct psychological and emotional profiles.

    Step 3:
    Development of a new campaign based on qualitative and quantitative data collected during step 1 and 2. 

    The LVA revealed the presence of many frustrations and pet peeves that had been historically misunderstood by Wafacash. More precisely, the data suggested that Wafacash underestimated the toll specific frustrations could have on the customer’s experience. Examples of these frustrations include: not being able to access cash at any desired time, not understanding fees charged for transfers, complicated procedures, transfer delays, and dirty bank sites. 

    The facial imaging study revealed that some of the narratives used in current commercials generated far less emotional responses than others. The results also clearly identified opportunities to do a better job lifting the emotional effect of TV spots during the last 10 seconds, regardless of the narrative. The study also allowed the marketing group to compare the relative effect of print, billboard, TV and radio ads based on the presence or absence of the seven universal emotions generated during testing.

    The quantitative phase offered an opportunity to measure the relative and more subjective importance of specific frustrations, expectations, attitudes and satisfactions towards the Wafacash brand. The cluster analysis provided the first opportunity the company ever had to examine the strategic differences between two distinct groups of customers. The typological analysis was not based on the traditional descriptive variables such as age or income, but rather on emotional variables, especially core fears. As such, this type of data analysis provided a much easier way to leverage the data in a strategic discussion around operational and communication strategies Wafacash could immediately adopt to appeal to each group.

    The process followed by SalesBrain led to the creation and company-wide adoption of new claims articulating the value proposition of Wafacash to its customers. The neuroinsights generated during the qualitative phase were innovative and revealed objective information from customers that had never been collected before. The quantitative phase built upon the analysis and relevance of the neuroinsights delivered greater clarity in terms of the psychographic profiles of core customer

    groups. With a better understanding of such groups, the management was able to quickly create and adopta new messaging campaign. The campaign was swiftly accepted and deployed throughout the  network of 600+ retail sites.

    Final Thoughts
    Wafacash is now committed to using more neuromarketing tools in the future to test the effectiveness of messages before they are rolled out. The management team has been trained to understand and use neuromarketing as a competitive advantage.

    Contact Information
    SalesBrain LLC , United States
    Dr. Christophe Morin,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

  • May 26, 2015 13:49 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Victor Lamme, University of Amsterdam

    Pre-testing of TV commercials by having focus groups evaluate various storyboards is common practice, given the considerable costs of airing commercials and the need to allocate marketing budget to the most effective campaign. Functional MRI -based neuromarketing allows us to by-pass focus groups, surveys and other traditional market research methods, making better and more reliable predictions of effectivity. For instance, it has been shown that the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns is predicted better by brain scans than by the opinions of marketing experts (Falk et al 2012).

    At Neurensics we have shown that the effectiveness of TV commercials (measured by Effie award winning TVCs) can be predicted with over 80% accuracy using fMRI -based technology (Lamme & Scholte 2013). Huge sums of money can be saved in airing costs by this kind of testing. Even so, it remains problematic having to conclude that a TV commercial is better not aired, after the -highcosts of production have been incurred. However, if guided by neuromarketing expertise it would still be possible to alter a commercial post production, by re-editing, changing music, voiceovers etc. It would be even more helpful to have a tool that allows the effectiveness to be tested prior to production.

    Reverse engineering of storyboards from TV commercials
    Ideas for TV commercials are often pitched in the form of a storyboard. A sequence of images is drawn, accompanied by a brief story explaining the general idea or concept. We tested to what extent these kinds of storyboards resemble the brain activation of the final TVC, and therefore whether they can be used to predict the final TVC’s effectiveness. Twelve TV commercials were sketched back into storyboard format in a systematic manner: key shots of the TV commercial were transformed into cartoon drawings, typically 10 shots per commercial. A (male) voice-over was used to explain the story of the commercial, reading the final packshot message aloud. The drawings and voice-over were compiled into a slide show with the same length as the original commercial.

    While lying in the MRI scanner, subjects viewed the storyboards followed by the actual commercials. To evaluate TVCs we use a proprietary method where we record activity from 13 neural networks, representing a typical (largely unconscious) emotion or brain valuation. These emotions (mappers) are grouped into four clusters: positive emotions, negative emotions, personal appeal, and general impact. Our previous research shows that the balance between positive and negative emotions is most indicative of TV commercial effectiveness. We correlate the mapper values obtained for a storyboard with those obtained for the actual commercial, to test to what extent storyboards have any predictive value for the neural impact of TVCs.

    The example illustrates the principle of analysis. Both storyboard and TV commercial evoke fairly similar (but not identical) mapper values. Note for example, how negative emotions are generally higher than positive emotions. This similarity can be expressed in the correlation value, which in this case is 0.76. A value of 1.0 would indicate perfect similarity.

    TV commercials can be predicted from their storyboards
    In the sample of commercials and storyboards that we tested, we found cases of fairly high and low correlation, but never negative correlations. On average, the correlation value is 0.35. This value is comparable to the correlation value of 0.37 that is obtained when each individual value of the TV commercial is plotted against the value obtained for the storyboard. Statistically, the correlation is highly significant (p = 0.0004). These results indicate something very important: relatively simple images and narrative of storyboards have a reliable predictive value for the neural impact that TVCs will have, if made according to these storyboards. 

    In evaluating our results, we found that not all mappers are equally predictive. For some mappers (such as attention) there is a very high correlation. In others, however, the correlation is low. An obvious way of improving predictive value is to collapse emotions to their main axes (positive emotions, negative emotions, personal appeal and general impact). At the level of the main axes, storyboard values correlate very significantly with TVC values (R = 0.48, p = 0.002). This shows that our method is very well suited to evaluate the future pos-neg balance of a commercial, with a correlation of up to 0.64 (p = 0.03). And as we have seen in the Effie study (Lamme & Scholte 2013), the balance between positive and negative emotions is a highly accurate predictor (over 80%) for a commercial’s ability to evoke sales intention.

    This study has proven that fMRI technology is very suitable for the evaluation of a commercial, prior to production. We found two levels of predictive value in the study. On the level of the 13 emotions, pretesting in this manner helps to prevent mistakes by avoiding emotions that have negative impact on the effectiveness of the TVC. At the level of the main axes, the tool predicts the ability to evoke sales intention. In making TV commercials, fMRI based storyboard testing is therefore a very cost-effective and reliable tool to predict the most successful course of action, early on.

    Final Thoughts
    We found that even a very simple storyboard can predict the neural impact of a TV commercial. This tool is most suited to compare different TVC proposals, when a decision needs to be made about which of these will result in the highest conversion. We propose that storyboards are made relatively early on, and tested for their effectiveness in influencing consumer behavior already in the conceptual stage. For the first time a tool is available that can change the advertising industry. No longer do we need to wait for a commercial to work. We will now know this in advance.


    Falk EB, Berkman ET & Lieberman MD (2012) From Neural Responses to Population Behavior. Neural Focus Group Predicts Population-Level Media Effects. Psychological Science, April 17, 2012 0956797611434964 Lamme VAF & Scholte HS (2013) TV commercial effectiveness predicted by functional MRI.
    Neuromarketing Science and Business Association Journal, Berns GS & Moore SE (2012) A neural predictor of cultural popularity, Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, 154–160

    Contact Information
    University of Amsterdam
    Contact Person: Victor Lamme,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

  • May 07, 2015 13:47 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Sands Research Inc.

    As retailers continue to face tough competition from online merchants, they are making stronger efforts to improve the shopper experience. This includes learning how people shop when in a bricks-and-mortar retail environment and what spurs them to make a buying decision.

    To gain critical insights into the shopper experience, Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) conducted a Shopper Engagement Study with 13 leading supermarket retailers (including Safeway, Stop and Shop, Vons and Winn Dixie) across 17 metropolitan markets within the continental United States. The research team, which consisted of Sands Research (neuromarketing), Smart Revenue (quantitative ethnography) and Shopper Sense (overall project management) used the latest EEG and eye-tracking technologies, combined with attitudinal findings and interviews, to measure the emotional, cognitive and physiological reactions to marketing stimuli while shoppers were freely roaming in the store on their normal trip to purchase groceries. The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of how consumers make purchasing decisions and how external factors – such as in-store displays, product packaging and shelf design – can impact those decisions.

    This research study was undertaken due to the rapidly changing retail landscape, where multi-layered selling strategies, social media and shopper technology come together in-store. In this setting, where it’s been proven for a number of years that more shoppers are making in-store decisions related to their purchases, having greater knowledge of how these decisions are reached will prove extremely valuable to retailers and marketers.

    In the POPAI Shopper Engagement Study, a balanced sample of more than 2,400 shopper interviews, purchase receipts with more than 33,000 items total, EEG and eye-tracking movement data from 210 individual shopping trips and an extensive audit of almost 6,000 unit displays, resulted in the largest, most authoritative study of in-store purchase dynamics ever undertaken. The study looked at five distinct measures of category performance that, when combined, give a clear indicator to retailers about the shopper marketing opportunity.

    The five measures were:

    • Ease of Shopping Score (ESS) indicates overall “shopability,” so a high ESS score indicates that products are organized such that shoppers can easily assess the variety of options available to them and select items they need without difficulty.
    • Inspires Exploration Score (IES) indicates how well a category’s presentation encourages shoppers to spend time examining options on the shelf.
    • Category Conversion, or walk-away rates, show how many shoppers failed to purchase at least one category of item they had planned to buy prior to entering the store.
    • In-store Decision Rates is defined as the sum of three purchase decision types identified by comparing reported pre-store planned items and post-shopping register receipts.
    • Evoked Response (EEG) and Fixation Rates (eyetracking) indicates the extent of non- conscious response when shoppers examine products in the aisle and on the shelf.

    After looking through more than five terabytes of data that were collected during the study, the results confirmed a previously identified trend that more shoppers are making in-store decisions related to purchases, with just over three-fourths (76 percent) of shoppers making their decisions on what to buy while in the retail environment. This was confirmed with the eye-tracking data, which showed that more than 80 percent of eye fixations (more than 200 milliseconds spent looking at an item) were on items that were not purchased. The Sands Research team also found out that a shopper’s brain produces a large positive emotional response the first time an item to be purchased is seen. After that initial view, eye fixations on the purchased item diminish rapidly. This shows that the first impression becomes a predictor of purchase and helps give valuable information to consider in package design. Specifically, product designers should keep in mind that shoppers may be viewing items from a longer distance and not right up next to a shelf. This also shows that a radical package design change will disrupt the shopping selection process of a loyal customer and make them more susceptible to alternative options.

    This nationwide study offered the first opportunity for marketers to see exactly the shopper’s viewpoint via binocular eye-tracking data that was time synced exactly with their non-conscious brain response. (Today we can now view this streaming data in real time.) Insights gleaned through combining neuroscience data with attitudinal information significantly improve understanding the shopper experience, the retail environment and most importantly, the opportunity for brands and retailers to put in place more effective in-store marketing strategies.

    Final Thoughts
    This was an important milestone for neuromarketing where the participant is not tied to the laboratory but results are collected, analyzed, reviewed and actionable insights delivered in the real world environment. Allowing a participant to freely roam while recording EEG and eye-tracking was a challenge when Sands Research tackled the POPAI contract, but has now become a standard service which is undertaken on behalf of our clients around the world.

    Contact Information:
    Sands Research Inc.
    Headquarters: USA Services: Worldwide
    Contact Person: Ron Wright,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

    Learn all about shopper insights at the Shopper Brain Conference
    Amsterdam, October 15-16 2015
    read more »

  • April 20, 2015 11:26 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Guenther A. Mohr, Business Xcel

    Improved Business Intelligence by compacting brand and product-related business communication to obtain brand leadership.

    In B2B and B2C, communication between market participants is mostly reduced to pure technical content. Neuroscience-based communication techniques can be used to enlarge market share and brand image. It is desirable to analyze and understand the ways in which competitors approach their customers and markets. Understanding the structures, communication elements and the wording of the market segments identifies huge possibilities to rapidly increase a company’s own market share through improved brand awareness and customer loyalty. The key elements of customer-related communication (text, images, color, sound, haptic impulses, design and packaging to name a few) are derived from public information about the competition. Our proprietary methods compact all information data into quantifiable factors, which are believed to be responsible for success. These factors including brand metrics are used to generate the DNA of the market as such and by competitor. It is possible to better reach customers through neuroscience-based communication. This will enable maximum market and brand dominance, and market leadership, to be obtained faster and more securely than with classical communication methods.

    The approach mentioned above is based on the fact that purchasing decisions are predominantly based on written content in the form of text, images, video and sound. Additional key factors stem from haptic perception, design (shape, form, function) and are color and pattern-based, to mention some elements. It can be assumed that these communication elements, plus the intensity and the volume of the communication flow delivered to customers, contribute to the final market share. The availability of total market information can be interpreted as a method of crowd funding and has embedded swarm intelligence.

    We have tested and validated the approach with several industry clients. The same approach was applied as part of the assessment of the recent federal elections of the German government. In all cases the results were highly surprising and demonstrate proof of principles. We are probably the only party to have forecasted the surprising success of Chancellor Merkel in this election with an unprecedented precision several days before the election took place. We use computer-based tools to collect high volumes of product, service and brandrelated information. Data compression then separates information into emotional and other clusters, while language analysis helps to set weight and priorities for the determination of key factors which are most likely to dominate decisions.

    Assessment of entire sectors of industry and at competitor level reveals open opportunities in communication to your customers. We assume that neuroscience-based information delivery expressly to predetermined brain types outperforms different forms of communication between market partners, be it companies, non-governmental or government organizations and the public. The described principles are based on automated language analysis, proprietary algorithms and conclusions from the behavior of artificial neural networks.


    The results show that the methods applied uncover communication gaps missed by the other market players. Brands can be quantified in strength, weight, ranking and number of factors contributing to success. Filling gaps in the typical industry-specific vocabularies provides ultimate opportunities to gain the highest brand attention. Sending messages to specific, predetermined brain types offers improved efficiencies.

    The described pathway starts from the engineering of a brand (design, targeted perception) and offers a holistic, multisensory approach. This includes name building, color, perception by touch, selection of logo and slogans and the contributing audio effects for improved brand formation and remembrance, all on the basis of neuroscience-related knowledge and expertise.

    Clients are able to determine clear and powerful communication strategies with sets of goals targeting brand and market dominance. We offer our potential clients sufficient background to rapidly maximize their marketing and market success.


    The proposed methods do not require electronic means to study brain or other body activities. Means of computer-aided information compression and clustering is time and cost effective.

    Data acquisition delivers a highly complete picture of the information universe and pushes a company into a leading position in a short time.

    The results can easily be adapted by companies internally, PR agencies and related organizations. The fact that brands can be measured, quantified and monitored over time creates important advantages over the competition.

    Final Thoughts

    We believe that the methods, tools and principles described above form a fundamental basis for establishing solid, robust and sustainable business models. This opens further possibilities for creating innovative markets in combination with strong intellectual property portfolios.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • April 03, 2015 11:17 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neuro-Insight Pty Ltd, Australia

    Allen’s is an Australian subsidiary of Nestlé which manufactures confectionery products. Over a number of years it had experienced serious market decline, with loss of market share and a reduction in the number of product categories. The company’s response was to embark on a major communication campaign, aiming to link its jellied lollies range to positive emotions of childhood. Neuro-Insight was commissioned to evaluate an animatic version of the initial television advertisement which featured a giant “marionette” doll, blowing bubbles that turned into lollies when touched by children.

    Nestle’s choice of a neuro-research company to investigate the ad reflected the fact that it was an execution directed at the emotions, rather than rational processes that could be verbalized. The objective was not simply to pass judgment on the ad; rather, Nestlé were looking for recommendations about the ad’s overall structure in order to maximize its effectiveness in building new and positive associations for the brand. Neuro-Insight’s Steady State Topography (SST) methodology was used as it enabled the client to identify not only the emotional response to the ad, but also to measure the themes and images (both rational and emotional) that were strongly encoded into long-term memory. Most importantly, SST only required one viewing of the relevant material thereby making the viewing situation realistic (some methodologies compromise responses by requiring multiple readings of the same advertisement).


    Neuro-Insight recruited 50 respondents with at least one child aged between five and twelve years, and who had purchased a relevant confectionery product within the last six months. SST brain activity was recorded from 10 participants at a time while they viewed the advertisement in each of two realistic advertising breaks in a high rating prime time program. With this study design, Neuro-Insight was able to report on the group psychological response to each component of the advertisement on a second-by-second basis. In addition, by comparing responses to first and second viewings of the advertisement, Neuro-Insight was able to advise on the media strategy; specifically whether the advertisement would benefit from two viewings in separate ad breaks in the same program (high frequency). 


    Time series graphs describing the major psychological measures of relevance, Long-Term Memory encoding, Motivational Valence (approach-withdraw), Emotional Intensity and Engagement were derived. This enabled the client and advertising agency to identify themes and scenes in the advertisement that were strongly encoded in Long-Term Memory and which also elicited high levels of Engagement and approach. This enabled the client to position the brand in such a way as to capitalize on peaks of response without compromising the advertisement’s creative strategy. One scene elicited a strong withdrawal response in association with high Emotional Intensity in both viewings; a pattern associated with fear and anxiety. This anxiety- provoking scene was modified in the final version of the advertisement. 

    The advertising agency modified the advertisement in accordance with Neuro-Insight’s findings and the client also adjusted their media buying strategy in line with Neuro-Insight’s recommendations. The campaign was an outstanding commercial success with the client registering the highest six month revenue in the last three years and exceeding its sales target by 21%. The advertisement went on to be awarded the Gold Effie Award in Australia as the most commercially effective ad in its category for that year.


    This Nestlé case study is just one example where Neuro-Insight’s findings led to clear understanding of what needed to be changed in a near-finished advertisement to make it more effective. Other published examples include an ad from UK retailer John Lewis, and a case study from Bird’s Eye in Australia which was presented at the Cannes advertising festival. Understandably, other clients are not prepared to release Neuro-Insight research findings concerning their brands, a pity, as these give clear indications of enhanced advertising effectiveness based on before and after changes made in response to the Neuro-Insight findings.

    More generally, this case study should be considered in the context of other Neuro-Insight evidence presented in peer-reviewed publications, illustrating the link between SST measures of brain activity and psychological measures in general; and specifically the link between long-term memory encoding and consumer behavior.

    The ability of scientifically-validated neuroscience services to enhance the real-world effectiveness of commercial communication can be summarized in three questions that need to be answered in the affirmative:
    1. Is the neuroscience methodology telling us something that is not available from established advertising research methodologies? (“is it telling me something I don’t already know?”)
    2. If 1 (above) is true, then do the novel insights make a significant difference to the commercial effectiveness of the communication? (“does it make a difference?”)
    3. If 1 and 2(above) are true, can the neuroscience services be offered on a time scale and cost that is commercially feasible? (”can it deliver?”)

    If neuroscience vendors with scientifically valid methodologies can answer all three questions in the affirmative, then they will do well.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • March 09, 2015 13:07 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    author: Dept. of Industrial and Commercial Design, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology 

    Retail PET drinks bottles / Packaging design

    Packaging colors on commercial goods capture attention and affect the interest level evoked in customers, and therefore consumers’ buying behavior (Gastón & Rosires, 2010). Lighting in stores and shops also greatly affects the color appearance of products, which is exactly what this research is about - to study such color appearance effects in terms of the attention they capture from customers, and EPR as the measure of attention.

    Previous research has shown that EPR component N100 is related to initial attention and cognition (Hsin-Hui Chiu, 2008), while P300 has been recognized as an reflective component for new objects, innovation and discrimination (Polich, 2007). That explains why customers’ attention to the colors on different drinks packaging can be studied using N100 and P300 responses.

    The hypothesis set for this study was “Different color combinations on drinks packaging generate different levels of attention and so different N100 and P300 amplitudes”. The color stimulations used in this experiment were divided into three categories based on the Munsell Color Wheel theory (Mahyar, Cheung, & Westland,2010; Ohta, 2008): complimentary (red/green), contrast (yellow/red) and analogous (yellowish green/green). These colors are the most popular main and supplementary colors of retail PET bottles on the market. All samples (PET bottles with one of the three stimulations) were placed in an environment of 6500K LED color temperature, 2000 Lux illumination and against a white background.

    The subjects of this study were twelve right-handed, healthy students, with an average age of22 from a university in Taiwan. All of them had passed the red-green color vision defects testing prior to the experiment. The subjects’ recruitment and all acts of experimental implementation observed IRB regulations.

    The procedures of the experiment were as follows: each stimulation appeared 30 times randomly on the monitor in the same stimulus (3000ms)-break (6000ms) sequence, making a total of 90 trials of 9000ms each. The brain responses of the subjects were acquired, preprocessed and analyzed by Neuroscan’s Physiological Data Record System and Visual Image Display System. Testing statistics were carried out by MANOVA.

    Results The results of MANOVA and Bonferroni post-hoc test showed a descending N100 (90–150 ms) amplitude for complimentary (red/green), contrast (yellow/red) and analogous (yellowish green/green) colors, and a higher P300 amplitude for complimentary (red/green) than analogous (yellowish green/green) colors. The further the distance is between the two colors on the Munsell Color System (Fig. 1), the higher the attention amplitudes (N100, P300). Therefore, our hypothesis, “Different color combinations on drinks packaging generate different levels of attention and so different N100 and P300 amplitudes” is supported.

    Moreover, the largest (N100, P300) amplitudes were found on the parietal lobe(PZ), among all areas of the brain (Fig. 2).

    On the contrary, the behavioral survey results for the subjects’ desire to buy were quite the reverse to the results of attention amplitudes, with an ascending order of complimentary, contrast and analogous colors (i.e. analogous colors evoked the greatest desire to buy).

    Complimentary colors (red/green) generate the highest attention EPR amplitude (N100, P300) on the parietal lobe, making these the best for designs that aim to capture the customer’s instant attention. Analogous colors (yellowish green/green), on the other hand, generate a lower attention EPR amplitude (N100, P300) but resulted in the highest desire to buy, implying that desire to buy has no direct correlation to attention.

    Final Thoughts
    Understanding customers’ demand for branding and products is the key to discovering their actual buying behavior. However, it is also important to study the attention-prone ability of the design/product during the early stages. This study suggests that designers or those involved in marketing and design should always seek a balance between these two factors (understanding customers’ demand and the attention-prone ability).

    Contact Information
    Dept. of Industrial and Commercial Design, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech), Taiwan (R.O.C.)
    Contact Person: Ying-Chun Chen and Regina W.Y. Wang,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 (the yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

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