Neuromarketing is bound to revolutionize the way brands deliver their message to consumers, and in Abu Dhabi's competitive market, companies, marketing firms, and consumers are equally likely to benefit.

The earliest reported use of the word neuromarketing appears to be in a June 2002 press release by an Atlanta advertising firm, BrightHouse, announcing the creation of a business division using functional magnetic resonance imaging for marketing research. Given the youthful nature and the explosive growth of market players, today neuromarketing and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing is generating increased interest in the UAE.

Spearheading further research into this new dynamic frontier is Abu Dhabi-based marketing consultancy firm Multiply, led by Samia Bouazza, who believes that while brands must stick to the basics in terms of customer centricity and quality, they should change how these basics are delivered. So, what are the prospects of this new practice in Abu Dhabi?
Neuromarketing undoubtedly features several benefits. The first one is tailored marketing campaigns. Technology such as sensors monitor the voices, eyes, and faces of consumers and observe their responses to stimulus, recording our unconscious reactions to certain products. A firm will be able to gather more data and push the line that drives greater interests, growing its top-line and reducing costs.

A second advantage brought by neuromarketing is giving advertisers better tracking methods on how well their messages and campaigns reached their target audience, saving considerably on total marketing budgets. In this way, AI can turn marketers into more proactive planners and include them more in the development of a product. Furthermore, AI and neuro-marketing help in understanding why consumers develop attachments to brands. Analyzing data from the process allows firms to accurately track consumer behavioral patterns and emotional responses, developing new avenues to connect with consumers and, thus, understanding what is at the basis of customers' relationships with specific products. Last but not least, neuromarketing technologies ultimately result in enhancing the quality of the product itself. With such advanced marketing information, the feedback loop connects to the product design and user experience. Moreover, data storage allows for constant improvement in terms of proposed products or services: customers will feel saving a lot of money and time being provided with something they are actually fond of and will eventually adapt to the new practices. This is part of a wider digital transformation trend with three notable elements: the way we interact with technology is changing, and facial and voice recognition with multi-devices is now the norm; technological infrastructure such as apps can improve efficiencies while marketers can accumulate vast data to create personalized insights; and our daily exposure to digital technology is on the up, with small size devices constantly in contact with our body.

In all fairness, it is worth mentioning that such an invasive technology has also been met with controversy, in particular for the dangerous effect this may have for certain products deemed unhealthy. For example, the press has reported on the perceived dangers of neuro-marketing, including concerns that advertisers might find a “buy button" or “magic spot" in the brain, although editorials in the scientific literature have argued that these worries are most likely premature since the current state of imaging technology does not allow for accurate, deterministic predictions of human decision making. Others have expressed concerns that neuro-marketing might one day threaten individual autonomy if this technology were able to effectively manipulate consumer behavior. However, there is reason to believe this development will overcome skepticism for two reasons: accuracy and return on investment. Although clients tend to keep their true opinions to themselves when asked to give feedback on the spot, marketing accuracy and accurate responses are vital for brands that are interested in genuine relations with their customers. The new way of marketing revolves around demonstration and empowerment; customers will be able to see, be engaged, feel empowered, and, thus, more willing to accept new neuro-marketing practices.