Neuroscience and market research: which methods are best?

In the most recent IMJR Jane Leighton from Neilsen describes a 2016 study which for the first time evaluates the respective merits of neuro tools.

imjr_which-neuroscience-methods-are-best-for-market-research.pngIn a sentence:

  • EEG has the best predictive validity;
  • Facial coding isn’t worth bothering with;
  • Like traditional methods, triangulation increases explanatory power.

For anyone who has used Eyetracking, GSR, EEG or Facial Coding this is intuitive.

EEG tends to be applied by trained specialists in a lab setting and a controlled environment. The data tends not to be interpreted by non-specialists.

Facial coding – even if you accept the “science” of micro expressions (I do not) – is often applied via webcam in home. The ultimate uncontrolled setting. The data is often interpreted by generalists.

The 2016 study is a comprehensive controlled test, testing 60 ads in 20 product categories, with over 900+ neuro participants and 22,000+ survey respondents. Their dependent variable – sales outcome – is not fully elucidated. I’m assuming this relates to an uplift in purchase intent following exposure.

My view? Adding neuro methods is about intelligent triangulation:

  • In advertising pre-testing EEG has predictive validity. Long-term memory encoding is the most effective dependent variable;
  • In retail, applied in a ‘blind’ shopping trip eyetracking adds most value in understanding real shopping behaviour and evaluating the impact of instore influences;
  • I wouldn’t bother with any of the other methods.


About Simon Shaw

I'm a Director at an insight consultancy. I'm interested in marketing, market research & consumer psychology. The views expressed are not necessarily those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Marketing Research, Methods, Neuroscience and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Neuroscience and market research: which methods are best?

  1. Simon Riley says:

    Eye-tracking’s the only one I have a lot of experience with – I regard it as almost essential to shopper research these days. I’m involved in lots of projects where it’s not an element, for cost reasons, but given the choice I’d have eye-tracking as part of the mix every time.

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