Neuroscience and market research: which methods are best?
In the most recent IMJR, Jane Leighton from Neilsen describes a 2016 study which for the first time evaluates the respective merits of neuro tools.
In a sentence:
- EEG has the best predictive validity;
- Facial coding isn't worth bothering with;
- Like traditional methods, triangulation increases explanatory power.
For anyone who has used Eyetracking, GSR, EEG or Facial Coding this is intuitive.
EEG tends to be applied by trained specialists in a lab setting and a controlled environment. The data tends not to be interpreted by non-specialists.
Facial coding – even if you accept the “science” of micro expressions (I do not) – is often applied via webcam in home. The ultimate uncontrolled setting. The data is often interpreted by generalists.
The 2016 study is a comprehensive controlled test, testing 60 ads in 20 product categories, with over 900+ neuro participants and 22,000+ survey respondents. Their dependent variable - sales outcome – is not fully elucidated. I’m assuming this relates to an uplift in purchase intent following exposure.
My view? Adding neuro methods is about intelligent triangulation:
- In advertising pre-testing EEG has predictive validity. Long-term memory encoding is the most effective dependent variable;
- In retail, applied in a ‘blind’ shopping trip eyetracking adds most value in understanding real shopping behaviour and evaluating the impact of instore influences;
- I wouldn’t bother with any of the other methods.
Simon Shaw, Director