Editor’s Note: I just got my copy of Neuromarketing for Dummies last week and was planning to write a review. Good thing for all of us that an eminently more credible reviewer, neuroscientist Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, stepped up and did it instead. I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim the book so far, but I can’t wait to dig in. I’ve known one of the authors, Dr. Steve Genco, for several years and expect that this will be a VERY impactful read. Judging from Thomas’s review below, it sure sounds like it is.
By Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
Neuromarketing is a dual edged sword. On the one hand, we have realized that we cannot do with traditional measures. People simply do not know, remember or want to convey their emotional responses. With our minds being great interpreters and post-hoc sense makers, asking our conscious minds are in many ways like asking your dog to bake you an apple pie. On the other hand, establishing a common knowledge and best practices for non-traditional methods has become harder than once thought.
In many ways, we live in an illusion of naive realism – the idea that what you see is what you get. But at any instance of sentience, our experience of the world is seen through a filter. That filter is still you, but it’s the unconscious side of you. Where to step next, breath or not breath, look right or left, and even what to pay attention to and evaluate something. This is all something going on automatically and without you being privy to it.
So why are we still pretending that asking people about their habits, wants and likes are the only reliable means of understanding them? For decades, psychologists and biologists have observed humans and animals using other tools. In fact, such measures are several orders of magnitude better at determining what we look at and how we respond, compared to asking people. Our conscious minds are just the tip of the iceberg of what our minds compute. Asking the conscious mind will only give you a tip of the iceberg idea of what’s going on.
So we need new approaches, and neuromarketing has for years been a potent candidate. It is arguable whether the discipline has been successful in living up to those expectations. For one thing, the topic is altogether so new, that we need a whole new language to understand consumers. Consumers are biological beings. How do you bring that into business?
Furthermore, many neuromarketing providers have solved this problem by inserting simplifying (or: simplistic) accounts, and hidden their actual operations behind a fog of neurobabble. This has proven not to be the way in which you’d like to forward a discipline.
Finally, several neuromarketing books have appeared on the market, some good but others terribly misleading. These books have mostly been driven by an honest inspiration and awe for the insights that neurobiology can bring to our understanding of consumer psychology and behavior. But they have often fallen short of providing a coherent picture, let alone actionable insights.
But now fortune is upon us all. We need to wait no more. Finally, a book has arrived that offers a refreshing take on neuromarketing. In the book humorously entitled Neuromarketing for Dummies (http://goo.gl/HmnTVu), authors Stephen Genco, Andrew Pohlman and Peter Steidl have brought together a book that will soon become a standard frame of reference for neuromarketers and marketers alike. If you want to understand – or have other understand – what neuromarketing is really about, this is the book.
Several things about the book are worth bringing to the fore. First of all, it provides an excellent introduction to the actual reasons for going into neuromarketing. By comparing the Rational Consumer Model and the Intuitive Consumer Model, the reader is given a road map for both understanding our naive beliefs in our own and consumers’ rationality as well as a new way to understand consumers.
By drawing on a combination of science and best practices, the volume provide an overview of the current state of neuromarketing. Even better, it does so without falling prey to the usual lofty talks about what this new science can bring. It talks about what the insights already are, and how they both can be and already are being used.
A recurring theme in the book is about the different practices we are now seeing within neuromarketing. In particular, it is well observed that there already now is a difference between neuromarketing service vendors, and neuromarketing consultancy. Vendors includes companies that do the actual testing of participants, and bring their own specialties and flavors. Consultancies are more or less a new breed that provide advice both on the selection and conduct of neuromarketing studies, as well as providing their interpretation of the results for the client.
If you don’t know how neuromarketing studies are conducted, this is also covered in the book. By showing very simply how a study consists of different phases, how the data are analyzed and interpreted, the authors demystify neuromarketing.
The authors have succeeded in making a book that combines nice to know with need to know, along with an overall gist of the actual thinking that needs to be brought with this field. Neuromarketing is, after all, not just business as usual. It is a very new way of thinking and acting. Seeing that consumers are biological creatures implies a whole new set of ways to understand their thinking and acting. Neuromarketing for Dummies provides a rock solid foundation from which we can start establishing a long needed benchmark for neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience.
A book for dummies? Nah, you’ll be genuinely brain-wise after reading this.