NEUROMARKETING: The Invasive Mind Control Marketing Big Brands Are Using To Dominate The Market

The Marketing reality has changed completely. Thanks to the latest Neuroscience’s breakthroughs, Marketing has now reached a whole another level regarding persuasion and influence. This new field of Marketing called Neuromarketing made so much authoritative noise, and so fast, that the world’s gigantic and most reliable brands such as Apple, Google, and Walt Disney noticed the opportunity to dominate more market share overnight. Such brands and many others are now making some HEAVY investments on this new field, aiming to increase customer retention as well as customer base.

This “trend” has come to change how we market businesses. Forever.
And responding to the question “What EXACTLY is Neuromarketing?” that anxious people are probably asking themselves right now, here’s the short answer of what Neuromarketing is:

Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the brain’s responses to marketing stimuli, such as consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive and affective response. Researchers use the fMRI to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain and to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what part of the brain is telling them to do it. Neuromarketing will tell the marketer what the consumer reacts to, whether it was the color of the packaging to the sound the box makes when shaken, and so on.”

PS: The earliest reported use of the word “Neuromarketing” dates back to June 2002, from an Atlanta advertising firm named BrightHouse. It announced via press release that they were about to launch a company’s division with the intent to use fMRI to do market research. Back then, the Commercial Alert even asked the federal Office for Human Research Protections and the U.S. Senate to investigate BrightHouse’s research.

Basically, Neuromarketing gives companies the necessary “juice” to accomplish what the following quote says:


Alright. Now let’s head to the long answer that will actually demonstrate how this works in practice. I’ll show you almost all of its persuasion levels and techniques that work like manipulative magic on customers.

To fully understand Neuromarketing, I’ll open your eyes to the reality brands are facing nowadays when competing in the marketplace.

OK, let’s start with the obvious: The goal of Marketing is to first deconstruct the target audience’s behavior of a determined niche, to only then, clarify to the marketer all the suitable marketing strategies/tools/channels that can be applied successfully in a Marketing Campaign. The more you deconstruct the target audience, the more precise you can be in your Marketing. Right? Therefore, understanding how different people work and behave is A MUST for achieving business success. The more you understand people, the better you’ll be in business.

OK. Now think for a second.
If you pay attention to how the business world works, you’ll realize that EVERY COMPANY has to understand social context and human behavior in order to actually succeed in establishing itself in the market. Why? Because the market is all made of people.

A quick example?
Today, if I send you an email is it possible that you open it and discard it just because you are ill or has just broken up with your girlfriend/boyfriend? The possibility exists for sure. Yet, many marketers think that once they’re doing things right all efforts will naturally result in massive success. They fail to realize that other lives are going on while they’re working. That’s context, my friend.

Also, another practical example for this is Startups.
New startups are born every day because they identify a new behavioral pattern in society, and behavioral patterns are changing very fast thanks to all startups that came 5, 10 years ago, like Youtube and Facebook. The world has put itself into Social Networks, Blogs, Websites and more, and thanks to all technology that surround us, we now live in an EXTREMELY NOISY world.

Are you confused? Then let me simplify.
I’m saying this because what needs to be clear in your mind before you understand the true power of Neuromarketing, is this:

  • New behavioral patterns are being born in society every day
  • The more you understand your customer’s behavior, the easier it will be to market your business in the market with more precision
  • Thanks to the evolution of Technology, Apps and independent media, getting attention from people has now become something incredibly hard

Making “market research” today to hit your customers right is getting harder and harder by the day, exactly because of our new complex society. So understanding how your target audience is acting today is just like earning a gold medal in the Olympics if you stop to think about it. You’re fighting VR, A.I., blogs, social media for people’s attention and besides, your target audience can change its behavioral patterns overnight, which puts your marketing message in a dumpster.

That’s the new Marketplace. That’s exactly it.
And it is changing every six months or less. How much noise did Pokemon Go created in the past few weeks? And how much did it changed social behavior? It all happened overnight. A few weeks CHANGED how teenagers and even adults behave with their smartphones.

See the problem we’re having today?
So that’s the new game now: getting people’s attention.
And in order to do that, you must do your market research because being extremely effective is every marketer’s duty and responsibility. But you can’t understand how your target audience is behaving in society today. Not completely. So realize this, my friend:


Noisy world. Lots of changes every single day.
And the more society changes, the more Marketing has to change. Today, businesses are day and night trying to find out a way to create a 5-second connection with consumers, struggling for ridiculous attention spans.

The market is now going to a place where most brands will just get SOME results, SOME attention and luckily, survive. Which puts 95% of businesses in big trouble, because the amount of money and hard work necessary to put into Marketing needs to be absurd to shut down the competition.

That’s why Neuromarketing is revolutionizing Marketing.

Because the brands that think ahead, are already visualizing this problematic scenario we all are living in. Why do you think Google, Walt Disney, and other brands are now investing loads of money in Neuromarketing before everybody else? Simple. Because they’ll dominate their market faster. They’re already pre-programming customer’s minds with more specific, ninja-like marketing messages.

OK. Now see why Neuromarketing is the future.

The power of Neuromarketing lies exactly in “jumping over” such noisy universe to place Ads that has the intent to strike the customer’s unconscious mind directly, delivering an almost indefensible marketing message which was pre-formatted through scientific research, increasing the chances of success.

The goal of Neuromarketing is simple:


That’s the power of Neuromarketing.
Researchers expose human subjects (potential customers/consumers) to the company’s product and/or to an advertising campaign BEFORE its launch. This allows a company to test how the target audience will likely react to the Ad, predicting its level of success without actually spending tons of money delivering normal Ads that doesn’t have the same level of precision, and that also, have higher chances of failure.


Are you understanding now why this is the future of Marketing?
This is why big companies are avoiding wasting money to deliver semi-precise advertising. Because they can gather a small group of people, equip them with several devices that scan their brain activity and/or eye movements, and then test how their brain waves respond to their advertising before any marketing message gets delivered to the market.

There are 3 basic pillars that Neuromarketing focuses:

  • ATTENTION — Is your Ad getting people’s attention?
  • EMOTION — Is your Ad generating emotions in the consumer?
  • MEMORY — Is your Ad sticking to people’s brains?

By measuring these 3 variables a company can predict how effective an Ad will be beforehand. This is marvelous news for those who are launching a product that’s brand new to the market, like startups.

But how does Neuromarketing “reads” people’s brain?
There are a few methods (which I show you near the end), but the most common way is by measuring someone’s brain waves. That’s how most neuromarketers (just invented that word!) like to determine Ad efficiency. Below there’s a board showing all different brain channels humans have, and for what purpose each one is for:


The goal is hitting the unconscious mind, remember?
That’s because scientists estimate that the unconscious mind process 200.000 more data than the conscious mind and it’s the unconscious part that makes us take the final decision when purchasing something, in 95% of the cases. Yes, even you, the guy who likes to read all reviews before buying something behaves like this without knowing. This is why companies are now trying to hit this part of our brains directly, by reading the brain’s response to know which message has more persuasive power.

Welcome to the Era of laser-like marketing.
Indeed, this is very impressive.

But with such influence over our decisions, you may instantly notice the dangerous side of this.
“What if companies start to manipulate us into buying?”

Could we assure that brands won’t cross that line? Well, unfortunately, no. This is a problem and some experts are calling this a “brandwashing” procedure, because it persuades people using an unfair advantage to choosing Product A over Product B. But here lies the dangerous problem: What if companies decided to persuade people to choose President A over President B?! THAT would definitely raise destructive, bigger problems to society and the loss of freedom of choice would definitely be one of them. Especially in our years where A.I technology and data personalization are coming to change everything around us. So this is a good warning to think about, but something to discuss another day.

But WHO started all this propaganda about Neuromarketing?
The guys from Neurofocus. Well, actually, the mastermind responsible for propagating this trend was definitely Dr. A.K Pradeep, who was the CEO and founder of Neurofocus which was a neuromarketing company that got later acquired by Nielsen, the famous global information and measurement company. Dr. Pradeep, explains how Neuromarketing can find out more precise market information, such as:

  • How thin a smartphone should be before the brain considers it too fragile
  • In which part of an audio you got emotionally engaged or memorized something
  • Which movie scenes should be strecthed as soon as the brain desires for more movie/action time

Imagine that you’re testing a video presentation of your company and you know beforehand all the emotional spikes it causes to people. Or where exactly in the video, it made people remember your message, for instance?

That’s another level of persuasion if you ask me, my friend.
Marketing on steroids. Dinosaur steroids.

But alright.
Now you’ll see a great interview with Dr. Pradeep which was made by The Economist magazine. The good part is that it opens with a very FUNNY music clip that was the Neurofocus’ presentation. It’s highly effective in hitting all 3 main spots: grabbing ATTENTION + generating EMOTION + increasing MEMORIZATION. The music clip + the beat makes sure Neurofocus gets remembered and the message gets delivered.

Impressive information, right?
There’s a neuroscience data that I particularly find important which Dr. Praleed started taking about exactly at the 20:13min mark, when he was answering a question from the audience:

Dr. Pralled:
“From 0 to 300 milliseconds, information arrives in the brain from your eyes, ears etc. Then, 300 miliseconds to 500 milliseconds the brain has already reacted to that information. Then, from 500 milliseconds to 1 second, you translate that reaction from your brain into facial expressions, muscle movements, gesture etc. Observe. React. Express.

The maximum difference between human beings is in EXPRESS.
The way you express how you felt versus the way I express how I felt, are conditioned by COGNITIVE BIASES: race, religion, ethnicity, social economic background, cultural background etc. All the cognitive biases call out how we express ourselves.

However, in 300 miliseconds to 500 miliseconds, where we react as human beings, we as human beings are more similar than dissimilar. Why? The cognitive biases that call out expressions had not had time yet to come in to call out our reactions.”

Now pay attention.
The bold parts mean that people MAY LIKE your advertising BUT they can or will behave differently due to cognitive biases such as race, religion, social background etc.

So this points out to us that a certain advertising can receive an unrealistic ROI, making us believe we got weaker results, when in fact, the marketing message was a lot more appealing than we thought. It just didn’t receive that much love due to social differences people had. So people may block all natural reactions to the marketing stimulus just because of their own cognitive biases.

It’s like showing an Ad of a Mansion to an envious person. He’ll enjoy the mansion, he’ll respond to the Ad naturally just like us, but from 500 milliseconds to 1 second, he’ll bring in his monkey line of thinking to give another reaction. He’ll CHANGE his natural response and show an incongruent facial expression.

That’s powerful data because it proves that your marketing message may be persuading a lot more people, but a subgroup of those people are choosing to consciously fight your advertising due to their cognitive biases.

Now let’s talk about how all of this applies to real Marketing.

Marketing can change how we view ourselves, as you may imagine already. We buy from certain brands because it makes us feel more special, more confident and more like…”winners”. There are brands that naturally have the power to upgrade our status in society. Right? Certain brands uplift people’s moods just because it has social proof, making the consumer feel superior, special and so forth.

That’s exactly how Audi promoted its car in the Audi 2013 Super Bowl Commercial. Take a good look and pay attention to the message given:

THE AD: A simple prom night to a scared teenager.
THE GOAL: Make insecure people FEEL that after driving an Audi S6 they’ll instantly get a massive boost of confidence. Noticed the girls on the other car and the boss-like kiss on the prom queen?

But let’s not deconstruct the Audi Ad, yet.
Watch Coca-Cola’s example and try to find some similarities:

THE AD: A fun-to-watch video about random people being taped on secret footage.
THE GOAL: Generate good vibe, happiness, joy, laughter and other good feelings in people. All very addictive feelings that humans like to experience (which is why this Ad is so powerful).

Have you discovered the pattern?
Do you think is safe to say that what we saw above are two very emotional appealing Ads?

What Audi is selling is this:
“You’ll become THE MAN after driving this car.”

And what Coca-Cola is selling is this:
“People are awesome. Just like a bottle of coke.”

And did they oversell their products? Definitely not.
They grab the viewer’s attention by telling a quick story on the sound of a catchy music. The Ad doesn’t even look like an Ad, but a small movie instead. Because people LOVE movies (emotion). People REMEMBER movies (memory). People pay ATTENTION to movies (attention). Besides, haven’t you watched at least one movie several times?

Well, these guys are living proof that Neuromarketing is highly effective:

Source: Huffington Post

Music + Smart storytelling was enough to deliver a powerful marketing message which stuck to our brains. You’ll remember these 2 videos. And replay the videos above and you’ll see that neither Audi nor Coca-Cola talked about their products. Makes sense? Oh yes.

Because the emotional experience that gets naturally attached to the product is THE REAL reason why we buy products in the first place. There’s no need to sell anything, you just have to make people remember your brand in a very special way, and a movie-like advertising is a very good way to do it. Audi knows that. Coca-Cola knows that. All giant brands know that.

All 3 videos use the same approach (Audi, Coca-Cola, Neurofocus):

  • They have catchy Music
  • They have a Story

Now here’s the scientific side of why putting songs in the middle of Ads works like a charm:

When first exposed to a new song, we establish new neural connections—of the sounds, the emotional pleasure, where we heard this new song, the lyrics, the title, the artist, similar songs, etc.—to represent this novel sensory experience. However, upon hearing the same song on a second occasion, it is processed as a neurologically different experience, where established connections are re-activated as recognition. We now recall the song, which did not occur upon first exposure, sing along with now recognizable lyrics (also impossible during the initial exposure) and later reproduce the lyrics in the absence of any song being played. All new learning pathways are built from existing circuits and are accompanied by changes in brain physiology as a result of experience.

Source: Brain World Magazine – How do We Remember and Why do We Often Forget

The song makes you recall the Ad.
And an Ad seen more than once by the choice of the consumer is the dream of a marketer, right? That’s why they embed songs in the advertising.

But here’s a practical example.
Haven’t you broke up with someone and you instantly REMEMBER being with that person once you heard a music both of you used to listen together? That’s the exact same approach Neurofocus, Coca-Cola and Audi applied as well. By inserting a song, they establish a link to your memory so later on, when you listen to that song again it will make you wonder:

“Hey…where did I hear this song?
Hmm….that’s right! The Coca-Cola Ad! Hmmm…..let’s watch that again because I like the song.”

And later on, you’ll be much more likely to buy a coke.
That’s powerful marketing. Neuromarketing almost looks like “cheating” sometimes.

Alright. But Neuromarketing can also extend its super powers to another thing: Fonts/Typeface. Since we’re dealing with the mind here, eye input is another channel of persuasion that Neuromarketing can influence. And Fonts are a big part of it.

So let’s take a good look at how Fonts can persuade you into buying.

Regarding text format, there’s one special thing called cognitive fluency. This term states that when our brains have difficulty processing certain information, the extra work our subconscious mind makes can be “transferred” to something else, making that task seem a lot more complicated or time-consuming than it actually is. All because of the use of the font.

But a picture speaks for 1.000 words, so here’s a practical example so you can test this with your own brain:


Now here’s the breakthrough.
Although both fonts display the same EXACT instructions, your brain naturally interprets the second instruction as a more complicated task to accomplish, just because of the font. Right? Your brain liked the 1st font more because it was easier to read, and this “easier” gets somehow linked to the content itself, without us realizing it.

This neuroscience fact was validated by researchers from the University of Manchester and Leeds Beckett University, who found that the font used to present medical instructions did affect how instructions were perceived. Here are the key points:

  • Font influenced pregnant women’s perceptions of an antenatal intervention
  • The easier the font was to read, the less complex the intervention was perceived
  • The font of written information may also determine adherence to interventions

Readability affects our emotions as well.
If something is hard to read, not only you’ll not understand the message but you’ll also be angry as hell! Seriously! And that’s the exact opposite of what we want our customers to be when they’re reading our nice, pretty, and branded content.

A psychologist named Kevin Larson has spent his career studying typefaces and a while ago he burst through the noise in the MIT with a study about how font and layout affect our emotions, which he called The Aesthetics of Reading.

So what does this all mean?
Simple. If a typeface has enough power to generate emotions, then it also has the power to increase marketing message retention, since emotionally charged events are remembered better by humans. So if your font makes communication easier and if passes good feelings, then you’ll be a lot more effective in your marketing and people will remember it with ease.

Alright, friend.
Now let’s take a look into imagery.

Another powerful level of persuasion involves how imagery is featured in marketing messages. There are two points marketers need to know right away that is rather a basic understanding of how persuasion through images work, and how it can maximize influence over customers.

The two points are:

  • Representing your key message via imagery
  • Having 3 images of the same product and no more

The first point is already obvious to most because there are very few people in the marketing space who doesn’t know that humans process images 60.000 faster than text. Here’s a nice image to reassure you how important having the right image is:


That’s why caring about the quality level of your images when crafting your advertising is mandatory, especially in the noisy world we live in today. So if you want your brand and products to be more persuasive, you must care about this factor as much as possible.

But let’s talk examples.
How about a quick test to validate my statements?
Look at the images below and honestly tell me WHICH CAR was instantly more appealing to you. You’ll notice how fast our brains interpret an image, by labeling the product either as a high-quality product or a low-quality one.

So tell me, which car would you buy?



Ok. maybe I was a bit tendentious, but you got the point.
Image #1 was definitely more appealing than Image #2, communicating a better product through high-quality photography and therefore, delivered a way more powerful marketing message to your brain making you look at the first photo as professional and the second one, as ineffective and amateurish.

So if you’re selling a car, try to represent your content also with the image of a car. Not a house. Not a dog. And not the latest smartphone. That’s the basics which you probably have already been doing for a while, but now you know why.

Now the 2nd point: Having 3 images of a product and no more.

This is basically the Famous Marketing Study of Too Many Choices applied along with our childhoods experiences. “Childhood experiences?! What?!”. Relax. I’ll elaborate fast. Look, when you were a kid you probably had these experiences below:

  • You learned the alphabet vi ABC
  • You played rock-paper-scissors
  • You played tic-tac-toe and/or duck-duck-goose

Those small learning habits conditioned your brain to always prefer three choices, which is why many call this fact The Power of Three. People since they were little, used to use the number 3 all the time to all sorts of things which made us grow up in a very small world of choices. Lots of options make people confused. Why do you think many websites/e-commerce use this principle?

Here’s an example from UFC STORE:



Another example from 3DCART:


And here’s what APPLE STORE:




And finally, INSTAGRAM:

PS: The Instagram above is here.

Yes. There is a “3” everywhere nowadays.
So just like everything else, people prefer to choose between 3 options when buying because it makes the decision-making process a lot simpler. Make this number higher, and the levels of persuasion towards customers diminishes because every choice added raises choice complexity. This is why picking only 3 images of your product when selling it is in 99% of the time the best option to maximizing persuasion.

Are you selling a car? Pick the best 3 images to expose it.
Are you selling a cellphone? Pick the best 3 angles to expose it.
Do I need to continue?

Now let’s see how big brands get you hooked, making you buy from them over and over without you realizing what you’re doing.

The way to maximize customer’s retention rate involves creating a buying habit. And why is that? Because habits are powerful. Habits are the reason why we do what we do in life. Humans buy lots of things thanks to habits if you stop to think about. For example, many people would buy pizza or ice cream when they’re about to enter a Netflix marathon. Others will buy popcorn before entering in a cinema to see a movie. And others will buy cigarettes as soon as they get nervous.

But it’s all a habit. All of them.
Those buying habits are pre-programmed in our brains. Through them, companies can explore our necessity of the reward all habits have, to introduce their products and make our habits a pleasurable experience, which makes us addicted to their products.

But to make things REALLY clear for you before we continue with this part, here’s how a habit actually works in human beings:


PS: The whole concept and explanation on habits can be found in the book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business for those interested in content with more depth.

So they try to either CREATE a buying habit from scratch or infiltrate into an existing one. Example: You can go to the movies and hate the movie. Right? But if I sell you popcorn, the part where you ate it was good, which kills part of the bad experience by compensating it with the good side of it. Haven’t you left a movie and said: “Well, at least I ate this and that” OR “The only good thing about this movie was the popcorn”.

Makes sense?
Now let’s get a bit more explanatory.
Taking the Audi commercial, if you analyze from the habit side of it, every time I enter an Audi car to drive it through the city I’ll instantly get people’s attention. Which means what? It means that Audi’s driving experience is always reinforcing to my brain the following logic:

1. LOW SELF-ESTEEM (Mental Trigger)
2. DRIVE AUDI (Routine)

And that changes my emotional state back to “high self-esteem” mode. See why Audi’s commercial was all about confidence now and nothing about overselling its product? Because the intent is to CREATE THE HABIT of “whenever you feel down, you can drive an Audi car to instantly feel better and confident”.

With that kind of message propagated, selling cars gets much easier since almost everyone has suffered from low self-esteem in this world. Or do you think the target audience was selling expensive Audi cars to teenagers in that Super Bowl commercial? Of course not.

The goal was to hit EVERYBODY that may afford an Audi and has any insecurity issues. Because if Audi can solve your lack of confidence every time you feel low, then buying it is the solution to never feel that again. Not just a car to take you to work. See how powerful focusing on the habit can be? See how powerful Neuromarketing is?

Feeling sad and insecure? (TRIGGER)
Ride an Audi (ROUTINE – Product)
Destroy bad feelings and feel good again (REWARD)

That way, an Audi is much more than an Audi.
It becomes a THERAPY. It becomes a medicine for when you’re having bad moments because it lifts up your mood instantly, creating an addictive habit in which the product is big part of it. That’s how powerful Marketing has become once you understand the science behind every single point.

And that’s how you increase customer’s retention rates dramatically.
Create habits that will need your product. Period.

As promised, I’ll show you which ways researchers can use to gather human data. There are several techniques Neuromarketing uses, some are common and more popular whilst others are a bit more rare to see in the market. But here’s what researchers normally have available to do this kind of research:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) — The measurement of the electrical activity of the brain by recording from electrodes placed on the scalp. The resulting traces are known as an electroencephalogram (EEG) and represent an electrical signal from a large number of neurons.
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG) — Imaging technique used to measure the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain via extremely sensitive devices known as SQUIDs.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) — It uses trace amounts of short-lived radioactive material to map functional processes in the brain. When the material undergoes radioactive decay a positron is emitted, which can be picked up be the detector. Areas of high radioactivity are associated with brain activity.
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) — It’s a technique for measuring brain activity. It works by detecting the changes in blood oxygenation and flow that occur in response to neural activity – when a brain area is more active it consumes more oxygen and to meet this increased demand blood flow increases to the active area. fMRI can be used to produce activation maps showing which parts of the brain are involved in a particular mental process.
  • Eye Tracking — Reads eye movements. There are 2 types of eye tracking: Remote (which are also called desktop, stationary or screen-based) and Mobile eye tracking (which are also known under the term head-mounted). The Remote type involves putting a person in front of a monitor to interact with screen-based content like videos, pictures, and websites, but can also be applied to offline stimulus like magazines/books. The Mobile type involves placing a mobile device similar to glasses onto the person’s head so the person can move freely.

Sources: Psycentral / Imotions

If you are impressed by Neuromarketing’s power and you’re a business owner, then I believe you’ll like this. The good news: Today, conducting neuromarketing research is no more something only CIA can do because of its high costs. That Era is over. Companies nowadays can have access to high-quality research devices and brain-imaging machines either through buying or renting because prices are now much lower to make such acquirements.

So for those interested, here a few links that may help you get started:

There are more information here: Ultimate Guide to EEG.

Marketing has changed from boring to extremely interesting, but definitely with a worrisome perspective as well. Mind Control seems to be coming soon because with such technology having the ability to read data from people’s brains, persuasion may change to pure mental manipulation in the marketplace. There are ethical boundaries that need to be respected and that will be tested very soon. And I hope we’re ready to incorporate such advances in our society without getting as close as possible to “mind control” because people should still have the right to choose.

If you have anything to add, feel free my friend.
Take care.


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