Exploring Neuromarketing in the Wine Industry

Exploring Neuromarketing in the Wine Industry

A new Frontier for the Study of Emotions

by Vincenzo Russo
Consumer Psychology and Neuromarketing Professor,
Coordinator of the Research Center of Neuromarketing Behavior and Brain Lab IULM,
Director of the Master in Food and Wine Communication at the Università IULM.

Nowadays, we know that decisions are not only the result of evaluations and logic previsions, but also the outcome of a complex process in which emotions plays a critical role. The decision of purchasing a product, a wine brand in a wine shop, a soft drink in a supermarket – beyond the presence online of a product or service – is often guided by shortcuts, that are facilitation mechanisms in the decision-making process (the brand, the price, the label, the words used for describing the product influences the costumers); it is also guided by previous experience or by expectations strongly characterized by emotions.

These solutions allow individuals to save energy, especially if they are not experts of that field or have few times to make a decision. That’s why there is the need to find new marketing solutions able to target individuals emotionally. Unfortunately, in a more competitive environment, this is not easy. In this landscape, finding innovative and emotional captivating solutions and being able to evaluate them before proposing them to the market, has a strategic relevance. However, in order to measure and evaluate the facilitation mechanisms and the emotions driving consumers’ choices, it is not enough to use the classic survey procedures such as interviews, focus groups or questionnaires. Indeed, these classical tools give us information that is not about emotions but is about the “mindset in relation with emotion”.

That’s why back in the ‘50s, David Ogilvy – last century most famous advertiser – wrote that “the problem with market research is that people don’t think about how they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say”. In this environment, neuromarketing represents a new strategy for the study of products or services effective communication campaigns, thanks to the use of new technologies that directly measure the emotions deriving from any form of stimulation. It is in this context that, ten years ago, the neuromarketing researches on wine of the Centro di Ricerche di Neuromarketing Behavior and Brain Lab of the IULM University (like the Mind Room Lab) were born in collaboration with many companies’ that are leaders in the field of psychophysiological evaluation of emotions.

bto research neuromarketing

The Centro di Ricerche di Neuromarketing Behavior and Brain Lab of the IULM University is a place where it is possible to evaluate – on an objective basis – the emotions generated by a marketing campaign stimulation. By using sophisticated instruments of neuro-psychophysics survey is possible to analyze the ability of a website to generate trust at first sight or a strong brand attractiveness in order to experiment the ability of a website, the emotional effects caused by the use of images or brand stories and the emotions generated by sensorial stimulations.

The techniques underpinning neuromarketing allow to precisely verify the change of emotional state caused by neuromarketing stimulation thanks to the analysis of indicators able to modify in case of emotional changes:

  1. The Electroencephalographic signals of the brain, usually known as EEG, measures the brainwaves with the goal of evaluating the cognitive activation degree and the type of emotions (positive – negative – low – high). It is an instrument able to show which part of the brain is activated after a stimulation. This allows us to recognize a positive emotion in correspondence of the prefrontal left area activation and a negative emotion coming from that activation on the right side;
  2. The Pupillary Dilatation, which is uncontrollable, indicates the degree of activation at the sight of a product, brand or label;
  3. The Skin Sweating, also called “electrical conductance” or “skin psychogalvanic resistance”. Generally, when sweat increases, the electric resistance decreases but we will analyze this with deeper attention afterwards;
  4. The Cardiac Variability, consisting on the heartbeat measures per minute;
  5. The Breathing;
  6. The level of the Muscle Tone Tension/Relaxation, or generally, EMG.

In addition, there is the possibility to measure the eye movement with an Eye Tracker (both mobile and permanent), which is able to track the eye movement and to measure where the visual focus is oriented. Therefore, it is possible measure the consumers’ attention both during the website online browsing (or during the reading of a label) and in the evaluation of a store layout.

By integrating this information with the information collected with the traditional techniques, it is possible to improve the strength of a communicative message, evaluating its emotional activation ability. In 1876, John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922), General Manager of US Postal Service and then creator of the first biggest American department store, said the prophetic phrase – that has been recovered over time by the contemporary advertisers and creative talents – that is “I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted…but I don’t know what that half is”. Nowadays neuromarketing, can provide us with a clear statement on which half of the money spent in advertising could be better spent in order to guide consumers in choosing a wine or a product.