American-based Neurofocus, which claims to offer companies the ability to
glimpse into the mind of consumers, announced on Sunday that it is opening a
laboratory in Israel.
The new field of “neuro-marketing” is said to allow
developers to gauge the reactions of small groups of test subjects to new
products with the aid of brain-scanning technology.
“Whatever it is that
you watch or experience, we figure out how your brain is truly reacting to it,”
said Dr. A.K. Pradeep, Neurofocus’ founder and CEO. “We use a dense array
electroencephalogram (EEG) with 64 to 128 sensors in a baseball cap. You wear it
on your head and the sensors measure your brain activity 2,000 times a second.
In the time it takes you to snap your fingers, 128,000 measurements are done all
across your brain.”
One product for which such testing is useful,
according to Pradeep, is a device most people own and use – the
In the past, mobile phone producers could either create the
product and then wait for sales to determine if it was desirable or not, or
gather a large amount of people in a focus group and ask them what they
Regarding a cell phone’s appearance, he explained, the common
conception has been that slimmer is sleeker, yet there is a point where slimness
starts conveying flimsiness.
Today, with the aid of neuromarketing,
producers can hook a small number of people to a helmet containing dozens of
brain activity sensors and determine, scientifically, the precise point at which
the product becomes too thin and thus undesirable.
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Pradeep said that
because the brain is partitioned, scientists can accurately determine which
parts react to different stimuli and thus receive precise indications of what a
person is feeling and the precise timing of the emotion. This, he said, is far
more efficient than regular focus groups, where people are asked to explain
their response to stimulations. Such explanations can be filtered through the
person’s consciousness and swayed by inhibitions or a desire to
“The science behind the company comes from the neuroscience
departments at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT and Hebrew University,” said Pradeep.
“With it, we can figure out why you like something or not, and why you buy it or
He explained that three variables are measured: attention, emotional
engagement and memory retention, which are then compiled to give parameters to
test purchase intent, novelty and comprehension.
For manufacturers, this
information can assist in product design by analyzing which features are
pleasing to the senses.
He added, however, that the field had limitless
potential for advertising and marketing, and that Neurofocus’ services could be
used to help boost branding, packaging design, advertising efficiency and even
Pradeep said that Neurofocus was able to increase the
sales of one of its US clients’ salsa and chips products by 11 percent by
figuring out what part of the chip-eating experience showed the highest amount
of brain activity. Contrary to what one might think, it was neither the flavor
nor the texture that made people’s minds buzz, but rather the precise moment
between scooping up the salsa sauce and lifting it to the mouth. By placing a
photo of a salsa-dripping chip in a supermarket aisle, the company increased all
chip sales by 7% and the particular brand’s sales by 11%.
Zvika Pakula, a
former deputy director of marketing at Cellcom and Neurofocus’s local director,
said he anticipated that the company’s Israeli clients will be made up of large
manufacturers and service providers. He refused to quote prices, but said the
service would be suitable for large and mid-sized companies and 30-40% over the
average price for traditional market research services.
Pakula said the
firm had already done a pilot project with local dairy manufacturer Tnuva, and
that the first client had already begun testing its products on consumers. He
added that companies that hire Neurofocus’s services could expect to wait a week
to receive results.
“The information gathering is done at our facility in
Bnei Brak, where a staff of technicians runs the test on participants and
records the results on our computers,” he said. “A test subject is seated in a
chair facing a screen, and the brainscanning helmet is placed on his or her
head. In order to maintain concentration, the testing is done for no longer than
30 minutes and never after 5 p.m.”
He added that the information is sent
to the company’s headquarters in California, where it is analyzed before being
returned to Israel.
“In the United States,” he said, “several companies
have decided to include Neurofocus in their production process and have
agreements to have the service available in their plants. That may also
future in Israel.”
Pradeep said that Neurofocus’s international clients
included household names like LG and Samsung, two leading beverage
five top brands across the sectors of fashion, health and beauty,
services and the automotive industry.
The firm’s executives are also
highly aware of the benefit their services can provide for politicians.
said that neuro-marketing techniques had been used to help finetune the
of certain candidates in the last US general election, and Pakula said
anticipated that it would be used to assist political campaigns in the
Israeli elections, too.
In addition, Pradeep said Neurofocus would
provide Israel with no-cost services to test and analyze particular
positions in order to aid the peace process with the Palestinians.
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