“Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a type of specialized MRI scan. It measures the hemodynamic response (change in blood flow) related to neural activity in the brain or spinal cord of humans or other animals. It is one of the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging. Since the early 1990s, fMRI has come to dominate the brain mapping field due to its relatively low invasiveness, absence of radiation exposure, and relatively wide availability.”In essence, the results from the study of brain scans that boost sales for materialistic items like food and cars is viewed as more valuable than the understanding of mental illness. Evidently, many people view this as a misuse or abuse of valuable medical resources in an attempt at controlling society.
“So-called "neuromarketing" takes the tools of modern brain science, like the functional MRI, and applies them to the somewhat abstract likes and dislikes of customer decision-making. Though this raises the specter of marketers being able to read people's minds (more than they already do), neuromarketing may prove to be an affordable way for marketers to gather information that was previously unobtainable, or that consumers themselves may not even be fully aware of, says Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke.”
There is no need to describe the obvious ethical issues involved in such techniques that allows marketers to peek into the brains of their consumers, but considerations must be given to consumers’ awareness, consent, and understanding of what could be an invasion of privacy. Moreover, how could toy companies employ such a method?
Despite these concerns, this type of marketing technique could actually do some good by reducing the number of advertisements that use shock tactics and sexual imagery as main selling points for their products. In addition, companies might actually improve their products to meet consumer expectancy.
Obviously the main function of this technique is not to increase scientific knowledge, but a by-product of such marketing tools could lead to a better understanding of how the human brain creates, stores, recalls and relates information. Furthermore, side-effects of such studies could also mean healthier advertising, for instance, reducing negative influences that lead to over-consumption.
If this is where advertising is going, we can only hope that companies will employ professionals to interpret the brain scans as images must be carefully interpreted by individuals with extensive training since misinterpretation could have serious consequences, even for companies promoting their products.
“Neuromarketing may never be cheap enough to replace focus groups and other methods used to assess existing products and advertising, but it could have real promise in gauging the conscious and unconscious reactions of consumers in the design phase of such varied products as "food, entertainment, buildings and political candidates," Ariely says.”
Nonetheless, there could never be enough benefits from this type of marketing to hold more value than the fMRI’s initial intent, in my opinion.
Brain Scans Could Be Marketing Tool of the Future
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
What is ‘neuromarketing’? A discussion and agenda for future research
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