Complex Made Simple

The incredible impact of Neuroscience on business | ALW 2019

Businesses can use neuroscience to understand their customers brains - literally, align audience messages, even target consumers through their personalities.

A number of new tools, technologies and techniques have been made available to probe the human mind Data from the consumer’s brain can be used to measure and predict consumer engagement, and the right pricing points "People can wake up and find that they need to buy a certain product, or engage with a certain brand"

Recent research in neuroscience and behavioral economics has shed light on ways by which humans make decisions and how biases may render our choices irrational. Technology has gone beyond tracking eye movements and having a visible representation of a person’s emotions. Now, it is possible to access data directly from the consumer’s brain in order to measure and predict consumer engagement, predict the right pricing point, and most importantly, understand and influence people’s personalities using neuroscience.

Moran Cerf, Professor of Neuroscience and Business, at Kellogg School of Management, provided an exclusive deep dive into the possible uses of neuroscience research data in business during the sixth edition of the Arab Luxury World, the Middle East’s leading luxury business conference, taking place on Wednesday, June 12 and Thursday, June 13, at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai.

“Businesses use a number of ways to try and understand the customers, which is not always accurate. They often try focus groups, surveys, researches and studies, but time and again, we learn that people aren’t great at sharing their intentions – what they’re really thinking. They even make mistakes while sharing information because of things that they don’t know about themselves or things that they are not comfortable talking about. Neuroscience circumvents this problem by gathering information directly from a person’s brain,” Moran Cerf said.

A number of new tools, technologies and techniques have been made available to help business leaders probe the human mind and learn more about their target audience, their desires, their interests and what makes them behave the way we do. The same technologies can also be used to help board members, managers, directors, C-suite executives and other key decision makers understand more about themselves and about their brands.

“It’s important to note that neuroscience allows companies and businesses to receive more accurate information about consumer behavior by accessing the brains of specific focus groups. However, it’s not scalable. You can’t access the information from every customer’s brain. You need to scan a few brains to make inferences about the masses. There are studies that show that targeting people based on their personalities is better than any other form of targeting such as age, gender or nationality.” Moran Cerf said.

The time has come for luxury retail companies to make the most of recent research in neuroscience to understand their customers better, align messages with the audience in more accurate ways, target and segment individuals by understanding their desires and interest better, thereby, replacing questionnaires and focus groups and asking the brain directly. Neuroscience research also delves into methods to measure engagement with content.

“In the last couple of months, people have attempted to replace an entire marketing department with neuroscience-based insights. Earlier, people use to talk about influencers as key drivers of making a message ‘viral’. Now, by understanding the way people’s brains work, we can identify what influences people the most, and then make it viral in a way that is extremely targeted. The number of people consulting neuroscientists was zero three years ago, but now some of the big businesses have started combining their marketing strategies with insights from neuroscientists. This is because neuroscience is has become very good at predicting outcomes,” Moran Cerf said.

Where the conversation gets quite ‘creepy’ is that through neuroscience and technology it is now possible to influence people even when they are sleeping. It is possible to convince a specific consumer to take an action while they are dreaming.

 “We can now ask a person coming to the lab to go take a nap for two hours. While they are asleep neuroscience can do things to their brain that can cause them to wake up with a new decision. People can wake up and find that they need to buy a certain product, or engage with a certain brand. Smokers can wake up to find that they don’t want to smoke anymore. While some of these are positive changes that can be made, the very fact that a change like this is possible creates the possibility of misuse, as well. It is important for business leaders, government official and voters to come together to decide on the best ways of implementing neuroscience in business,” Moran Cerf concluded.