An Exploratory Analysis of Consumer Opinions, Ethics, and Sentiment of Neuromarketing: An Abstract
Neuromarketing can be defined as both an innovative research methodology that makes use of neuroscience techniques and as field of study that merges marketing principles and neuroscience theory. As a research methodology, neuromarketing has the potential to detect unconscious processes and activities that are difficult to access through traditional advertising research methods. As a field of study, neuromarketing refers to a link between neuroscience theory (and methods) and marketing techniques. The emergence of neuromarketing as a new field of study has created ethical concerns about the use and misuse of neuroscience technologies, under the premise of advancing the understanding of consumer behavior.
The ethical issues concerning neuromarketing research suggest that consumers need more information about neuromarketing in order to understand its implications and to protect themselves from the negligent research behaviors of companies. Thus, taking into consideration the relevant role of consumers in neuromarketing as both participants of the experiments and final recipients of the “benefits” derived from firms’ marketing decisions, an understanding of what consumers think about neuromarketing becomes critical. To examine consumer opinions, a content analysis of neuromarketing blogs and social media sites was selected as the exploratory method to uncover the “voice” of consumers about neuromarketing. Three text-analytics techniques were used to examine the texts, namely, word frequency analysis, story network analysis, and sentiment analysis.
The implications of this content analysis of neuromarketing texts from blogs and social media are twofold. First, the three-step methodology used for the analysis of texts represents a helpful tool for marketers and demonstrates the importance of user-generated content (UGC) as a valuable source of consumer information. Conventional wisdom suggests that listening to what customers say and where they are saying it, can help a firm make decisions regarding their brands, products, and services. Marketers must recognize that more effort has to be allocated to social media observation and the analysis of the data provided through these sites.
Second, the findings of this research represent the “voice” of consumers regarding the emerging field of neuromarketing. This exploratory study can help neuromarketing research firms, scientists, academics, and marketers understand consumer perceptions, feelings, and attitudes toward neuromarketing. Specifically, this research makes evident that consumer sentiment of neuromarketing is mostly positive; however, some concerns regarding the ethical use of the method still need to be addressed. Therefore, it is critical that government, companies, neuromarketing firms, researchers, and consumer advocacy organizations work together in the creation of regulations, standards, and a code of ethics for neuromarketing.