Neuromarketing – From Gartner’s Hype Cycle to the mainstream?

Nearly a decade since the first Neuromarketing World Forum brought together experts in the field from across the globe, how has the industry landscape changed? We spoke to Carla Nagel, the Executive Director of the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA) and the person who organised that inaugural conference. 

“I remember for a while that people were saying, ‘Well, neuromarketing is the next big thing, this is going to happen,’ and back then in 2011, 2012, we were even on the Gartner Hype Cycle. A few years later, we were not mentioned at all as an industry so that’s quite worrisome and something to think about, especially because things that were on the Hype Cycle at the same time have really taken off, like 3D printing.”

“The reason for it? Many people have a professional interest in the brain – reading books and websites, talking to experts – but when they are in the office, they don’t know where to start. They have the assumption that you need to hire people or use very expensive technology. When they are already able to get insights that the people around them are happy with, the impetus isn’t there.”

“Companies that use neuromarketing successfully now experimented with it to start and then there was a tipping point: they could see that if they had not used it, then they would not have had success with launching a product.”

“I see people come to the conferences and they go from, ‘Oh, it’s cool that all these people with so much knowledge are here.’ Then the year after, they’ve done one project. They’re still in the early stages, they want to learn more. Then a couple of years later, they are much more experienced, using different technologies and vendors and they have embedded neuromarketing into their processes. It takes someone to stick their neck out and then stick with it.” 

“It is complex so it naturally takes time but we will see more companies doing it when they experience the results. We’re offering an exam for communications and marketing students who want to explore more about the brain which could help speed up adoption when they enter the workforce.”

“And then key is that the technology is constantly evolving and that is making neuromarketing more accessible and scalable all the time – implicit association testing was a breakthrough. Then there’s headsets with eye tracking, biometrics, VR glasses… I’m curious to see what the coming months will bring as everyone moves to more web-based technology in the wake of COVID (and people had time to think about what they wanted to do next!).”

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