Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We’re All Shopper Marketers Now

Spending on shopper marketing, along with agencies and consultants that have popped up to support it, has grown rapidly. Is shopper marketing just a “gussied-up name for trade promotion”, as a recent article in Ad Age suggested? After all, as the Ad Age piece points out, shopper marketing lacks even a commonly accepted definition. Within shopper marketing, there is no hotter bandwagon than neuromarketing. Since the publication of Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology book, there has been a spike in print, internet, and blog coverage of neuromarketing, a field of marketing that considers consumers’ brain response to marketing stimuli.

Perhaps neuromarketing can offer some interesting insights into how people view, interpret, and act on advertisements. However, the flashy science and technology sometimes gets too far out in front of practical reality and actionable results. Adweek reports that Japanese advertising agency Hakuhodo has taken a stake in Buyology, a new neuromarketing consulting company established by Lindstrom. Perhaps neuromarketing is the future of shopper analytics; after all, Japan is the country of the future, where scientists have developed robot exoskeletons to assist aging farmers and robot teachers that they hope to activate in the next five years. However, it’s all too likely that high tech brain scans and electronic imaging won’t be able to replace careful studies of shopper behavior any time soon. As David St. Hubbins said in Spinal Tap, “It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.”
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