Where to begin? What to choose?

How many times does a consumer have to ask these questions before making enlightened purchasing decisions? Today, after spending over 15 years on a school bench doing research and starting a new adventure in digital marketing, I ask myself these questions.

Knowing that I love science and spend most of my time searching the web for information, where would you find me and which approach would you take to sell me the right product? What defines me as a consumer? To come up with a marketing strategy, would you need to know that I am a woman, my social status, where I live, my age, where I grew up and what my favorite ice cream flavor is (chocolate of course!)? And what if you only needed to know how my brain processes information?

Several studies in various academic departments are studying this fascinating subject. For example, many experiments focus on decision making, others on how we store, process and retrieve information while some study what happens when we want something. What about the reward system that underlies our next desire?

As science advisor, my new mission will be to investigate how two goldmines packed with information on human behavior, marketing and neuroscience, can become a single discipline: neuromarketing! Since it’s the consumer who decides the where, what, when and why to buy your product, would it not be necessary to know what happens in the black box of the pilot? Beyond doubt new ideas will stem from the marriage between the empirical outcomes of various scientific fields and marketing data. With the outstanding benefits for companies of getting innovative advertising products based on solid scientific foundations.

Back to square one: where to start to make a “marriage” work?

In recent years with the advent of the Internet, new communication technologies and the digitization of information, an endless stream of information is flooding our lives. The pace has become extremely fast in terms of new marketing strategies multiplying business sectors. That multiplication led the marketer to be more lost than ever. Before the Internet, promotion in the mass media was easier because the number of channels was limited : TV, radios, newspapers, billboards… But now, every “old” channel is still alive, and a lot more have emerged: Websites, Facebook, Twitter, mobile phones, etc.. All these new channels, but the same old budgets; how can today’s marketers allocate their budgets?

Meanwhile, in academic research we have seen the advent of downloadable scientific papers, exclusively digital scientific publications and scholarly blogs investigating how we use our brains to make decisions. Despite these significant improvements, time goes slow in research! The time it takes to access scientific information by peers remains at several months and often years. In addition, by the time the information gets to the user it is often outdated. The amount of information that a researcher must digest has also increased exponentially over the last 10 years. Yet the researcher’s work is the same, being on the lookout for what is happening in his, and related, fields of study. The research process is more or less linear with results answering a question and consequently generating more questions following a logical sequence. However, since we have not yet found a way to fabricate “time” (but it is a matter of time!) a lot of information and research findings are lost.

The sequence of events remains to be determined, but I see a future where research findings reach the consumer much faster and where industry participates actively in the development of knowledge while building on its newly acquired skills to provide marketing solutions in harmony with the needs of its customers.

To begin our dialogue I would like to open the discussion by asking: If we combine the enormous amount of information gained in previous years in academia to the almost infinite amount of data collected daily through digital media, would we exponentially increase our knowledge on how the brain processes information and influences buyer behaviour online, while propelling the renewal and development of targeted marketing tools?