Brains on Brands, Part 1: Marketing Meets Neuroscience

Originally broadcast on March 14, 2008.

brainpl.jpgThe other day an SEM specialist told me, “Marketing is a hard science.”

She said it, at least in part, ironically. “Marketing? A science? Come on! What’s next? Fishing?”

Marketing may not yet be a hard, or even soft, science. Nevertheless, scientists are indeed taking a hard look at marketing and beginning to paint a very interesting picture of how and why marketing actually works IN THE BRAIN.

James Intriligator is one such scientist. Having received his doctorate in psychology from Harvard for work on “attention,” James did a stint as a consultant to the automotive industry, among others, before assuming a post in the Center for Neuroscience and Consumer Psychology at the University of Wales, Bangor.

I’ve known James for many years and decided to call him up when I wanted to get a handle this “neuromarketing” thing. He was kind enough to walk me through this emerging field as well as his own findings regarding brand loyalty (Hint: It kind of makes you act like a crazy person!), segmentation, and literally getting inside the customer’s brain.

I invite you to listen in on our conversation. I think you’ll find the discussion illuminating and, at times, even entertaining. (Where else will you hear people talk about “brand build-up,” “brand flossing,” and “brandectomies”?) I had a lot of questions for James and he had a lot of answers. For this reason, I’ve split the interview into two parts.

You can check out Part 1 right here by clicking on the Flash device below:


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You are also welcome to download an mp3 of this interview by “right-clicking” (“control-clicking,” Mac-wise) on this link.

A few highlights of the interview can be found at the following time coordinates:

02:35 – How Brands Build Up in Brains
04:06 – Ways to Quantify Brand Loyalty
05:06 – Brand Loyalty, Brand Familiarity, and the Attentional Blink
06:45 – Dealing with Excess Brand Build-Up
08:13 – How to Forge a Robust Representation of the Brand (in the Brain)
10:27 – What Counts as an “Experience” in “Experiential Marketing”?
11:40 – Problems with Product Placement
13:23 – Brand Loyalty and Brain Damage
17:43 – A Brand Is the Net Sum of All Experiences You’ve Had with a Product/Company
19:22 – The Web as a Branding Medium
23:09 – Segmenting the Brand
26:09 – The One Rule that Fits All Branding and Marketing Activity

Image Courtesy of debaird.

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