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Can Neuroscience Help Us Better Understand Differences in Consumer Brand Preferences?

February 20th, 2013

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A core goal for marketers is effective segmentation: partitioning a brand’s or product’s consumer base into distinct and meaningful groups with differing needs. Traditional segmentation data include factors like geographic location, demographics, and shopping history. Yet, research into the cognitive and affective processes underlying consumption decisions shows that these variables can improve the matching of consumers with products beyond traditional demographic and benefit approaches. While many discussions involving marketing and neuroscience attempt to justify a general use of neural data for marketers, we prefer to provide market segmentation as a prime example of how neuroscience can aid marketing and consumer research. Neuroscience can provide a novel way to establish mappings between cognitive processes and traditional marketing data. An improved understanding of the neural mechanisms of decision making will enhance the ability of marketers to effectively market their products. Just as neuroscience can model potential influences on the decision process—including pricing, choice strategy, context, experience, and memory—it can also provide new insights into individual differences in consumption behavior and brand preferences. Neuroscience approaches will not replace the data and methods in current marketing practice, but can provide complementary information about choice processes and types of consumers. Doing so may lead to better approaches for market segmentation and more effective marketing practices.

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