Times Higher Education has a short but revealing article about a ‘neuromarketing’ company called MindLab that keeps getting ‘accidentally’ associated with the University of Sussex.
The ‘accidental’ association is not what makes the piece interesting, however, as it also gives an insight into a type of marketing that relies on the hype of neuroscience to make the news.
Mindlab International measures psychological reactions to brands or products using a “scientific approach” that “offers PRs an extra way to add a newsworthy element to PR campaigns”, founder David Lewis-Hodgson told PR Week in 2006…
Previous research by Mindlab has found that reading is more relaxing than listening to music or going for a walk, in a study commissioned by the maker of Galaxy chocolate as part of a campaign to give away 1 million books.
It has also been reported that a Mindlab survey, commissioned by the maker of Rocky, a chocolate bar, found that an estimated 25 million adults in the UK have been injured during a tea or coffee break.
In April this year a “neurological study by Dulux [the paint company] and the Mindlab International Laboratory at Sussex University” that measured the “physiological arousal” prompted by the imagining of various activities found that “women find a redecorated room just as pleasurable as sex”, the Huffington Post reported.
Yes, you read that correctly, and if I ever become old, bitter, and want to sabotage someone’s illustrious career in neuroscience I’m just going to write a piece of software that adds ‘the Huffington Post reported’ to the end of all their scientific papers (however, I digress).
What’s interesting is that simply making something appear like a neuroscience study is enough to get it and the associated product in the news – to the point where companies can now base their business model on the practice.
Neuromarketing is the study of the neuroscience of marketing – a genuinely interesting field that, contrary to what neuromarketing companies will have you believe, has absolutely no practical benefit at the moment because no-one has yet demonstrated that a neural response is a better predictor of the key outcomes than a behavioural response.
This, however, is more like neuro-spin-marketing, as it relies on people believing the hype of neuromarketing to get branded pseudo-studies into the media.