Ethics of Neuromarketing
Neuromarketing Research is a relatively new technology in the current marketing industry. It provides a more in-depth analysis what traditional market research may not be able to provide, by observing the immediate thoughts and emotions of the consumers during the initial touch-point with products or even commercials, with the help of the various neurotechnology equipments. What neuromarketing research actually does is that it captures how our brain reacts to certain videos, static images, website experiences and how well we retain certain information. (Click here to find more about Classical Market Research and Neuroscience backed market research)
How do companies employ Neuroscience-backed market research? Neuromarketing research companies will invite respondents that have comparable characteristics as their client’s target consumers, and go through a data collection stage where they will be asked to view or engage with the client’s test material while having neuro-technology gadgets equipped on the respondents.
So having said that, neuroscience-backed market research can seem intimidating towards consumers because they will start thinking things like, “Are they going to use that information and influence me to buy their product?” and they might even feel like it's an invasion of privacy. Sure, it may be scary because neuromarketers are getting information from consumers that even they don’t know about since all those thoughts and emotions were forged subconsciously.
If we were to put it this way, it isn’t about what information we get, but how we use the information instead. Any form of marketing is to a certain extent is influencing our subconscious decisions, our consumers in many various ways. Making deals and sales offers, all these marketing strategies no doubt are subconsciously influencing us.
When do we draw the line between ethical and unethical marketing?
Some company's marketing plans and strategies usually fall between the borderline of being ethical and unethical. Unethical marketing is when you claim something that your product or service is unable to deliver, using marketing strategies to mislead and alter your brand image to falsely claim what your product serves is definitely unethical. Making false statements to make your consumers believe that they are purchasing a product that can fulfill what they need but turns out that the product they just purchased was barely what was claimed. All these not only damages your brand but your consumers will also be spending money on things that they are not going to get.
Ethical marketing is using what information you get to good use, ethical marketing often relies on the concept of “Paying-it-Forward” whereby companies utilise information gleaned for a greater good/a cause. Research shows that people tend to be more drawn towards baby's and children's welfare, so charitable organisations will be more prone to using photos of kids, idealisation of children's well-being to convince the public to donate or help these children.
To conclude, neuromarketing only collects information and is used for market research, take it for example that companies are not subconsciously activating the buy button in your brain, they simply are just changing their product to better suit your preference. If companies are more capable at making their products more likeable, and proves that they are able to produce what their consumers are looking for as compared to their competitors, then that is what increases sales. Remember that at the end of the day, whatever decisions the consumers may make, it is solely up to them.
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