Marketers a bottle of soft drink has to be

Marketers
constantly look for innovation in product ideas. Today with the advent of
technological advancements, tapping into the consumer’s thoughts and feeling
has become a plausible addition to the gamut of market research offerings.
Neuroscience is one such tool that taps
into the non-conscious minds of the consumer’s and provides data obtained
from the brain waves to aid optimization of return on investments for clients.
The granularity in the diagnostic analysis can help in assessing multiple
aspects that can address several business questions. One of the most common use
of neuroscience has been seen in ad testing and package testing. However, one
of the recent additions has been in assessing product consumption experience.

Let’s
take an example of soft drinks and
understand how the entire process works. Neuroscience in product experience
gives iconic signatures for the drink and suggests which formulation is the
best. Soft drinks are an impulse category and consumer’s do not think what they
feel when they consume a soft drink. Neuroscience therefore helps in tapping on
to the non -conscious behaviour and building on the conscious experience of the
consumer. Consider a bottle of soft drink has to be assessed for consumption
experience. Typically, neurological evaluation happens stage wise to understand
the overall sensorial experience of the consumer. So, the 1st step
involves just placing the bottle in front of the consumer and capturing the visual reactions. The next stage is of
picking up the bottle and feeling it to record tactile reactions. Later on, the consumer is asked to open the
bottle and focus on the sound to capture the auditory reactions. Then the consumer is asked to smell the product
and hence the olfactory reactions
are recorded. The sense of taste is
captured in two steps- the consumer is 1st asked to take a small sip
of the product and the taste reactions are taken. After the 1st sip
is completely savoured by the consumer he is asked to take a bigger 2nd
sip for checking the difference in the taste likability of the product. In this
way, neuroscience can answer questions related to the look and appeal of the
pack, the touch of it, sound of opening, smell that may indicate the level of urge created and finally the taste can
provide a hint whether the product has performed as per the consumer’s
expectation or not.

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With
such tools and techniques, it surely takes us many steps closer to the consumer’s
non- conscious mind but does it also not pull us away from the expressive
conscious mind? With every new technology, there are advantages and
limitations. And with this, the advantages are defined but are too numeric to
be extrapolated to the subjective expressions of the consumer’s. In the same
illustration, at any stage of the consumption process the emotions generated cannot be defined accurately as the brain waves
would suggest either a heightened or a reduced emotional state but not a
precise emotion. 

According
to my understanding, using neuroscience in assessing the product consumption
experience can only give brain images that can form the basis of abstract
cognition abilities but not suggest or
see what the mind is actually thinking.

Some
of the questions that can be raised as per my understanding could be-

Can such a revolutionary research
methodology replace the idiosyncratic answers that can only be articulated and
not quantified?How does research help in building
conclusions when there is a dissonance in the non-conscious and conscious mind
understanding? Market Research has
traditionally been an amalgamation of both art and science, however with
neuromarketing being entirely science based, will it leave the researchers with
more unanswered questions?