Neuroscience: the next frontier of consumers studies?

9 Feb, 2018

The traditional research techniques (e.g. questionnaires) have shown some limitations when it comes to revealing our inexplicable behavior. Modern marketing research methods like consumer neuroscience can help to better understand feelings and choices based on physiological changes.

Consumer neuroscience deals with the functioning of human and can be applied to the marketing field (neuro-marketing) to better predict consumer buying behavior and its relationship to different stimuli. Horska et al. (2016) investigated in real time the micro-emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, neutral emotions) while consumers were tasting eight blank wine samples. This type of evaluation is based on uncontrolled facial expressions and mimic elements. They also used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain electrical activity in the upper layer of the cortex. This part of the brain if stimulated like drinking wine produce a very small electric current (brain wave) along with impulses. In general, the brain activity can help to understand emotions such as “engagement/boredom, immediate agitation/ irritation, frustration, meditation”. Plassmann, O’Doherty, Shiv, & Rangel (2008) evaluated the experienced pleasantness (EP) testing whether marketing actions like the change of the price of a wine affect neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Their findings indicate first that increasing the price of a wine positively affect neural correlates of subjective flavor pleasantness. Second, they suggest that EP can integrate into the evaluation the actual sensory properties of the product consumed with the expectations about how the pleasantness should be.

Neuroscience can help food industry to understand better the brain activity while eating food (or drinking beverages) toward different intrinsic attributes. The potential results can contribute to developing products which enhance the sensory experience and the overall pleasantness. At the same time, neuroimaging studies can be also used to understand the perception of external factors such as packaging design, price changes, information on the label, and so on.


Horska, E., Bercik, J., Krasnodebski, A., Matysik-Pejas, R., & Bakayova, H. (2016). Innovative approaches to examining consumer preferences when choosing wines. Agricultural Economics (Zemědělská Ekonomika), 62(No. 3), 124–133.

Plassmann, H., O’Doherty, J., Shiv, B., & Rangel, A. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(3), 1050–1054.


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