Neuromarketing versus Focus Groups

I’ve always had a very healthy skepticism about the use of focus groups in any kind of marketing exercise. Somehow, the entire process of having a group of consumers engaging in supposedly genuine reactions to products, brands and packaging–all in front of a one way mirror seemed like Kabuki theater.

And partly that’s because I’ve been in a few–from both sides of that mirror.

On the other hand, the more I learn about the use of fMRI, EEG and the like to supposedly engage in neuromarketing, the more I fear we’re on even thinner ice. Currently, even with fMRI, we’re not able to image at the proper spatial or temporal scales to pick up what Donald Hebb called cell assemblies, the biological representation of concepts (like soda pop for example).

If you are interested in learning more about these issue with neurotechnologies, please consider attending the Krasnow Symposium on June 19-24 here at Mason’s beautiful Inn and Conference Center.