50 | www.CosmeticsandToiletries.com Vol. 130, No. 7 | September 2015
TESTING | C&T
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Neuroscience has become a hot topic in consumer research. The high failure rate of new market introductions—despite initial successful testing with traditional sensory and consumer tests, as is often seen
in food development—necessitates the development of new approaches
and methodologies. 1, 2 This might be due to a low predictive validity of
traditional sensory and consumer tests, which include sensory analytical
profiling and liking tests. These tests require cognitive information processing and rational reasoning, whereas consumer behavior might be more
based on unarticulated/unconscious motives and associations.
Neuroscience can help market researchers and product developers better
understand both their consumers and how their product is performing.
Through measuring the non-conscious consumer response to products,
concepts and before/after results, it is possible to make decisions for product
development and marketing, as well as develop product claims. Here, the
authors discuss these possibilities as well as two case studies.
First, it is important to clarify what using applied consumer neuroscience means. In the purest of definitions, neuroscience is the study of the
nervous system. 3 It can be seen as a branch of biology or psychology, but
is truly an interdisciplinary approach combining the fields of chemistry,
computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, genetics,
philosophy and physics. Technologies and methodologies of neuroscience
can range from molecular and cellular approaches, to brain imaging and
behavioral analysis. Clearly, neuroscience is a broad field.
Applied consumer neuroscience, a term coined and defined by the
current authors, can be described as a combination of neuroscientific,
psychological and traditional market research methodologies to better
understand consumer behavior and non-conscious interactions with
products. The more popular evaluation methods include biometrics, such
as heart rate (HR) variability, galvanic skin response (GSR), facial electromyography (fEMG), etc., as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI) of the brain. However, the usefulness and validity of some technologies, specifically fMRI and electroencephalography (EEG), for consumer
Michelle M. Niedziela, Ph.D.†, Erin Carbone†, ‡
and Bill Thau†
† HCD Research, Flemington, NJ
‡ University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, PA
Applied Neuroscience to
Understand Cosmetic Consumers
predictability • profiling •
consumer behavior •
priming • biometrics •
eye tracking • heart rate •
galvanic skin response •
By measuring the non-conscious consumer
response to products,
concepts and before/
after results, it is possible
to make decisions for
product development and
marketing, as well as
develop product claims.
These possibilities are
discussed herein, as are
two case studies.