Neuromarketing Part II: Understanding the Capabilities


Last week we shared an interview with a respondent from the biofeedback study we recently conducted with Medical Marketing Economics and The Neuromarketing Labs. This week, we have another interview from the project. We were fortunate enough to discuss the biofeedback methodology with Hirak Parikh, who is the Principal Scientist at The Neuromarketing Labs. He offers great insight into the capabilities of this powerful methodology. Enjoy!


What were you testing and how does it work?

In this particular study we were testing respondents with ADHD and the goal was to identify patient co-pay sensitivity for a hypothetical ADHD prescription medication.

Our approach is unique – biofeedback studies take the “background noise” out of the equation. There are certain things people are not actually able to verbalize or express in regards to how they feel about particular prices, products, etc. We are able to access these feelings by measuring responses at a deeper level. Think of it as measuring gut reactions. You can control what you write down in a survey or what you say in an interview, but your instantaneous reaction cannot be controlled. Have you ever had a moment where you are feeling a certain way but not sure why? This is what we are measuring. The true, underlying reactions to a certain stimulus – product, brand, advertisement; in this case patient co-pays.

In essence, our approach is able to predict what someone’s future behavior will be based on their instinctive reactions.

In layman’s terms, how do the biofeedback mechanics work?

It is just the same as a regular EEG. We have the respondent sit in front of the stimulus which is typically presented on a computer screen. We then put a cap on them that looks like an old fashioned swim cap. We use tiny amounts of gel to help with the signals. Then we start up the stimulus to explain how everything is going to work. We always do a trial first so that the respondent can get used to the set-up before we start the study.

Overriding all of this is making sure that the respondent is comfortable and understands what it going on. We are always checking in with them to see if they have any questions.

How do you record responses? What are you looking for?

On the biofeedback portion, we record respondents’ reactions, when the stimuli appears, and how long it takes to make a reaction in the brain. This way, we can compare higher or lower responses to a stimuli. We can track up to 64 channels in the brain to get more accurate results.

We can also measure other biometrics alone or in combination with the brain waves. Some of the other measurements we commonly do are respirations, sweating, temperature, heart rate, and eye tracking.

What makes the ideal respondent?

We don’t want respondents to think too much. They have to focus, but they also need to realize that making a mistake is natural and going to happen. We show each question about 40-50 times to ensure we are getting an accurate response. This also allows us to cancel out any mistakes as we can tell where they are.

What do you do with the results?

Basically this is just a more scientifically robust approach to study questions, whether they have to do with marketing, advertising, pricing or anything else. We then make predictions based on what we see in the results. Since this methodology is relatively new we are always checking our results against the market to make sure we are predicting real behaviors of participants.

What would an appropriate question be for this type of research?

Common questions we help our clients answer include:

  • What happens when you change the price of your product?
  • What cost makes most sense to the brain? What is the brain most willing to accept?
  • Which ad concept is most effective? What emotions does it evoke? What effect is it having on the brain? For example, a brand might want to portray high value in an ad – we can measure how well they are doing this.
  • Which products are going to do better in market than others?
  • How will consumers actually act or react to my product, message, price, etc.

For example, we recently did a project with a shoe company. They had 100 sets of new shoes and wanted to know which 20 to really invest in for marketing initiatives. We helped them identify the 20 shoes that their consumers were most likely to engage with and purchase. We tested our in-market results after as well and we were right on. Yes, we really can test anything.

So who is using this type of research?

Common clients for us range from automobile manufacturers such as Audi and Volkswagon to CPG clients such as Pepsi to pharmaceutical companies such as Merck. Everyone is interested in this and the smart companies are giving it a try.

What is the future of biofeedback studies?

For us, we would love to use this methodology at the decision point. Right now, to ensure our results, we need to control the scientific area of the study and conduct it in a facility or lab. However, it won’t be long before we can be in stores with this same methodology walking around with shoppers.

What else would you like people to know about biofeedback studies?

This type of study is another way to help our clients make better and informed decisions. Our clients still know their customers best, but this gives them another data point to confirm their hypotheses and objectives. It may also give another look at a new area of opportunity. There might be something uncovered in the brains of your customers that you had not previously thought of. It could be a whole new area for your business.

If you are interested in more information, please reach out to:

Amit Patel at

Hirak Parikh at

Mira Davis-Kelly at


This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 3:45 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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