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Exposing Marketing students to neuroscience and its impact on consumer behaviour

Posted on April 15, 2019

Ms Corli du Toit, a behavioural researcher working within a modern neuroscience laboratory known as the Market Insights and Neuro Discoveries (MI.ND) Lab, addressed the second-year Marketing Management students at the University of Pretoria on 4 March 2019. Ms Du Toit, a current PhD student within UP’s Department of Marketing Management, shared some valuable insights on the increasing use of neuroscience by organisations to gain a deeper understanding of consumers and their decision-making processes.
 
For years, marketers and researchers have been trying to understand what consumers are thinking. Traditionally, market research techniques relied on conventional, self-report techniques such as focus groups and surveys examining people’s conscious, and often rationalised reactions to brands, products and advertisements. Although these traditional techniques are still suitable to gather rational consumer insights, Ms Du Toit explained that human beings are not entirely rational in their decision-making and that almost 95% of our decision-making processes are controlled by our emotions.
 
Modern neuroscience shows that our behaviour and choices happen mostly in the unconscious mind and we can more accurately determine the true motives for specific behaviour or choices when this is studied directly. MI.ND Lab, one of three neuroscience laboratories situated in South Africa, makes use of some of the latest technologies to study consumers’ unconscious reaction. Ms Du Toit demonstrated the manner in which some of the biometric technologies are utilised by the lab in real-life situations to gather valuable insights for organisations, which can ultimately aid them in optimising their marketing and communications strategies.  
 
The students were introduced to neuroscientific research equipment such as eye tracking devices, which are used to determine where respondents focus their attention when viewing advertisements; electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity of the brain and shows positive or negative emotional engagement; electrocardiography (ECG), measuring participants’ heart rate; electromyography (EMG), used in facial coding to read micro-expressions; and galvanic skin response (GSR) devices that measure fluctuations in sweat levels.
 
This presentation was truly valuable to the students, as it enhanced their understanding of some of the latest cutting-edge technologies available to accurately measure consumer behaviour today. The students were able to see how these technologies are used within the marketing research industry.
 
Ms Corli du Toit with some of the second-year Marketing Management students
 
Ms Corli du Toit from MI.ND Lab presenting to the Marketing Management students
- Author Department of Marketing Management

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