Another neuoromarketing publicity stunt?

I recently wrote a post about a market research company, NeuroFocus, that specializes in neuromarketing techniques. I questioned the strength of the methodology they used to support a claim that neuoro-imaging helped improved the sales of a magazine. Well, not to pick on NeuroFocus, but I wonder if they are over-claiming again.

In a press release that was picked up here, here, and here, A.K. Pradeep, the company’s CEO states:

What went awry with the Gap’s recently-introduced logo? NeuroFocus, the world’s leading neuromarketing company, went looking for the most accurate and reliable answers in the best place to find them: the deep subconscious level of the brain. The company conducted neurological testing of Gap customers to discover why the new execution failed to attract them — and in some cases earned negative reactions.

In addition to the EEG-based brainwave activity measurements and eye tracking data it captured and analyzed in its study, NeuroFocus cited six principal Neurological Best Practices that the new logo violated. These Best Practices have been extracted from the thousands of neurological tests that the company has conducted worldwide.

The release goes on to outline and comment on these best practices. For example:

Sharp Edges Unsettle the Subconscious: “Forcing the brain to view a sharply-angled box behind the letter ‘p’ provokes what neuroscience calls an ‘avoidance response’. The hard line cuts into the rounded shape of the letter. We are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges — in nature, they can present a threat. Our so-called modern brains are actually 100,000 years old, and they retain this primordial reaction.”

Although I suspect that neuoromarketing techniques could be a helpful (albeit costly) supplement to standard survey techniques, I suspect that the Gap could have easily and cheaply avoided the logo debacle by simply asking a few consumers which logo is more appealing. After all, consumer responses to the roll out (including this very amusing one) were very conscious in nature.

Which do you prefer?

Buckingham Hall