Neuromarketing in Action: How to Talk and Sell to the Brain

Sharad Agarwal (Marketing Department, Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi, India)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 11 August 2014




Sharad Agarwal (2014), "Neuromarketing in Action: How to Talk and Sell to the Brain", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 404-405.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Neuromarketing is referred to the application of neuroscientific principles in marketing and management. It has gained considerable attention from academia and practitioners in the past decade. Neuromarketing in Action gives the actionable insights, derived from rigorous neuroscientific experiments, which can be adopted by marketers to enhance their effectiveness through the scientific managerial knowledge generated by scholars from the areas of neuroscience, behavioural science, cognitive science, management and other allied fields.

The book aptly explains its concepts through the examples of practices pursued by top European companies. Though the book is broadly written to make marketing function and actions more effective, the insights are equally applicable for all other functions such as human resources, operations, communications, etc.

The books consist of 18 chapters divided into four parts. Part 1, “Neuromarketing or the art of selling to the brain” consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 discusses the concept of marketing both from a customer’s and a company’s point of view, defining marketing as “The art of creating value both for the customer and the company” (p. 10). The second chapter appraises the different parts of the brain and their respective roles in information processing and decision making. It also introduces the concept of ergonomics and explains how it influences consumers’ brains. “Intellectual work ergonomics is the science studying humans’ intellectual work to increase productivity, satisfaction and safety” (p. 26). Chapter 3 explores further the concept of neuromarketing and defines it as, “an intelligent, focussed, marketing oriented interpretation of major scientific text on how the brain works” (p. 42)

Part 2, “Selling the marketing and organization strategy to the brains of managers and employees”, consists of two chapters. Chapter 4 focuses on internal marketing in the organization. It introduces the readers with the concept of “marketing cockpit” and “management cockpit” and explains how this concept has quickly become the interface between managers and their businesses. Chapter 5 provides advice to marketers on managing their physical and emotional fitness. It provides the neural explanation for marketers to keep themselves fit for improving their performance of marketing intelligence. It dwells on overcoming the issues of change and stress created in the organizations which have even led to suicides in organizations such as Renault and France Télécom.

Part 3, “Improving the efficiency of the marketing action: the neuromarketing method”, consists of eight chapters. Chapter 6 throws light on the role played by each of the five senses while the consumer makes decision to purchase the product. “Our five senses are like red and humid skin that must be rubbed at the right rhythm to get the customers’ attention, followed by their pleasure and memory” (p. 91). Chapter 7 elucidates the role of sex and food in meeting the fundamental needs of consumers while they evaluate the proposition of one product over other. “Sex and food are the two most important needs, as they guarantee survival: food for short term individual survival and sex for long-term survival of the species” (p. 102).

Chapter 8 discusses the role of six basic consumer emotions: fear, joy, sadness, surprise, disgust and anger and describes these as the door to the consumer’s memory. Chapter 9 recognizes the role of consumers’ memories in their purchasing decisions and mentions that neuromarketing attempts to increase the consumer’s memory (for a product or brand) through repetitions, stories, pleasure and simultaneous and sequenced entries like making the customer hold or use the product or classifying the offer into a category such as cheap, trendy, etc. The authors give examples of brands such as Aston Martin, BMW, and Dom Perignon, which were able to create successful stories in the consumers’ brain by featuring in the adventures of James Bond.

Chapter 10 deals with the importance of satisfying customers’ subconscious to make a successful sales deal. “You must become accepted by the customer’s subconscious, because if it blocks your product there will be no sales” (p. 125). Chapter 11 reiterates the importance of satisfying customer’s reason to finally close the sales deal. As the customer is equipped with genuine intelligence and capability to calculate and compare the value of product, satisfying a customer’s conscience is of utmost importance. From the neuroscience perspective, the marketer should create an environment which removes blood from the frontal lobes of the customers’ brains by using selective voices, images, and décor, which would lead the consumer’s decision making in the marketer’s interest.

Chapter 12 depicts several examples from top companies on how they want to apply the principle of neuromarketing in enhance their sales. It also talks of the case of “Sales Point” neuromarketing methods, which is developed in collaboration with ACCOR, Promod, Credit Suisse and other corporations. Chapter 13 rehashes the role of sensory marketing in both online and physical sales outlets. Neuroscientifically, the lobes of the brain, located in the cerebral hemispheres, are the receptacles of the centres responsible for the senses. The authors give the examples of brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Sephora and Nespresso which focus on selected stimulus to catch the attention of five senses for creating a genuine sensory experience for the customers visiting their stores.

Part 4, “Perspective for today […] and tomorrow”, consists of five chapters. Chapter 14 educates readers on the importance of “Blue Ocean Strategy” and “Innovation” in promoting the future growth of a company. It explains the concepts of invention and innovation and advocates the innovation bases business model and positioning. “An invention is largely based on product policy. It becomes an innovation when it satisfies the customer’s desire” (p. 189). The authors also explain the role of customer innovation, product innovation, price innovation, distribution innovation, and communication innovation in building successful companies.

Chapter 15 introduces the readers to the concepts of “Desire Marketing” and “Permission Marketing”. It then talks about “Viral Marketing” or “Buzz marketing”. Through differentiation strategy and interactive strategy, Figure 15.1 (p. 204) depicts the complete process of viral marketing from creating desire for a brand among consumers to influencing their (consumers’) policies. Chapter 16 revolves around building successful relationships with consumers. It gives examples of eBay and Amazon, which offer a number of testimonies and evaluations by the consumers who have already bought the product, which helps in the new undecided consumer’s decision making.

Chapter 17 uses Domasio’s (2005) concept of “Somatic Markers of the brain” to neuroscientifically explain the concept of Brand Positioning, Brand Identity and Brand Sensoriality. Chapter 18 focuses on promoting “legitimacy” and “sustainability” to conquer the customer’s trust as the customer’s brain wishes to have a clear conscience for whatever and whenever they buy. Customers are not interested in becoming partners of firms who do not treat their stakeholders respectfully. The authors quote the example of Orange, which apparently received several cancellation requests from customers unhappy with suicides in its parent company, France Télécom.

The book presents a judicious mix of concepts from neuromarketing, marketing and corporate strategy to educate readers on not only building successful marketing initiatives but also on creating sustainable long-term growth strategies by satisfying consumers’ long-term needs. The book is written in a very reader-friendly style, with each unit starting with a brief introduction on what the readers will see in further chapters. It also presents key points at the end of each unit, which summarizes the previous units for better understanding. Though the book is targeted for the marketing fraternity, I would recommend it for students and professionals of all managerial functions as it provides actionable insights into various managerial functions such as managerial communication, team building, interpersonal communication and, of course, marketing and branding.


Domasio, A. (2005), Descartes’ Error , Penguin, New York, NY.

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