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ielts reading test - inside the mind of the consumer


A MARKETING people are no longer prepared to take your word for it that you favour one product over another. They want to scan your brain to see which one you really prefer. Using the tools of neuroscientists, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) mapping and functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI), they are trying to learn more about the mental processes behind purchasing decisions. The resulting fusion of neuroscience and marketing is inevitably being called 'neuromarketing’.


The first person to apply brain-imaging technology in this way was Gerry Zaltman of Harvard University, in the late 1990s. The idea remained in obscurity until 2001, when BrightHouse, a marketing consultancy based in Atlanta, Georgia, set up a dedicated neuromarketing arm, BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group. (BrightHouse lists Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Home Depot among its clients.) But the company's name may itself simply be an example of clever marketing. BrightHouse does not scan people while showing them specific products or campaign ideas, but bases its work on the results of more general fMRI-based research into consumer preferences and decision-making carried out at Emory University in Atlanta.


Can brain scanning really be applied to marketing? The basic principle is not that different from focus groups and other traditional forms of market research. A volunteer lies in an fMRI machine and is shown images or video clips. In place of an interview or questionnaire, the subject's response is evaluated by monitoring brain activity. fMRI provides real-time images of brain activity, in which different areas “light up” depending on the level of blood flow. This provides clues to the subject's subconscious thought patterns. Neuroscientists know, for example, that the sense of self is associated with an area of the brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex. A flow of blood to that area while the subject is looking at a particular logo suggests that he or she identifies with that brand.


At first, it seemed that only companies in Europe were prepared to admit that they used neuromarketing. Two carmakers, DaimlerChrysler in Germany and Ford's European arm, ran pilot studies in 2003. But more recently, American companies have become more open about their use of neuromarketing. Lieberman Research Worldwide, a marketing firm based in Los Angeles, is collaborating with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to enable movie studios to market-test film trailers. More controversially, the New York Times recently reported that a political consultancy, FKF Research, has been studying the effectiveness of campaign commercials using neuromarketing techniques.


Whether all this is any more than a modern-day version of phrenology, the Victorian obsession with linking lumps and bumps in the skull to personality traits, is unclear. There have been no large-scale studies, so scans of a handful of subjects may not be a reliable guide to consumer behaviour in general. Of course, focus groups and surveys are flawed too: strong personalities can steer the outcomes of focus groups, and people do not always tell opinion pollsters the truth. And even honest people cannot always explain their preferences.


That is perhaps where neuromarketing has the most potential. When asked about cola drinks, most people claim to have a favourite brand, but cannot say why they prefer that brand’s taste. An unpublished study of attitudes towards two well-known cola drinks, Brand A and Brand B, carried out last year in a college of medicine in the US found that most subjects preferred Brand B in a blind tasting. fMRI scanning showed that drinking Brand B lit up a region called the ventral putamen, which is one of the brain’s ‘reward centres’, far more brightly than Brand A. But when told which drink was which, most subjects said they preferred Brand A, which suggests that its stronger brand outweighs the more pleasant taste of the other drink.


“People form many unconscious attitudes that are obviously beyond traditional methods that utilize introspection,” says Steven Quartz, a neuroscientist at Caltech who is collaborating with Lieberman Research. With over $100 billion spent each year on marketing in America alone, any firm that can more accurately analyze how customers respond to products, brands, and advertising could make a fortune.


Consumer advocates are wary. Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert, a lobby group, thinks existing marketing techniques are powerful enough. “Already, marketing is deeply implicated in many serious pathologies,” he says. “That is especially true of children, who are suffering from an epidemic of marketing-related diseases, including obesity and type-2 diabetes. Neuromarketing is a tool to amplify these trends.”


Dr. Quartz counters that neuromarketing techniques could equally be used for benign purposes. “There are ways to utilize these technologies to create more responsible advertising,” he says. Brain-scanning could, for example, be used to determine when people are capable of making free choices, to ensure that advertising falls within those bounds.


Another worry is that brain-scanning is an invasion of privacy and that information on the preferences of specific individuals will be misused. But neuromarketing studies rely on small numbers of volunteer subjects, so that seems implausible. Critics also object to the use of medical equipment for frivolous rather than medical purposes. But as Tim Ambler, a neuromarketing researcher at the London Business School, says: ‘A tool is a tool, and if the owner of the tool gets a decent rent for hiring it out, then that subsidizes the cost of the equipment, and everybody wins.’ Perhaps more brain-scanning will someday explain why some people like the idea of neuromarketing, but others do not.

Marketing - the activity of promoting and selling products or services
Simple sentence: Marketing plays a crucial role in increasing product sales and brand awareness.

Scan - to examine or analyze something closely
Simple sentence: We need to scan the market to identify our target audience.

Brain - the organ inside the head that controls thoughts, feelings, and actions
Simple sentence: The human brain is a complex and fascinating organ.

Neuroscientist - a scientist who studies the nervous system, including the brain
Simple sentence: The neuroscientist conducted research on the effects of music on the brain.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) - a test that measures brain activity through electrodes placed on the scalp
Simple sentence: The patient underwent an electroencephalogram (EEG) to diagnose their seizure disorder.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) - a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow
Simple sentence: The researcher used fMRI to investigate the brain regions involved in decision-making.

Neuromarketing - the application of neuroscience techniques to marketing strategie
Simple sentence: Companies are increasingly using neuromarketing to gain insights into consumer behavior.

Obscurity - the state of being unknown or not well-known
Simple sentence: The artist's early works remained in obscurity until they gained recognition later on.

Consultancy - a company or organization that provides professional advice or services
Simple sentence: The consultancy helped the company develop a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Arm - a division or department within an organization
Simple sentence: The company's research arm focuses on developing innovative technologies.

Volunteer - a person who offers to do something without being forced or paid
Simple sentence: Many people volunteer their time to help charitable organizations.

Evaluation - the process of assessing or judging something
Simple sentence: The teacher's evaluation of the students' performance was based on their test results.

Blood flow - the movement of blood through the circulatory system
Simple sentence: Regular exercise improves blood flow and cardiovascular health.

Subconscious - existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness
Simple sentence: Dreams often reflect the subconscious thoughts and desires of individuals.

Pilot study - a small-scale preliminary study conducted to test research methods or gather initial data
Simple sentence: The researchers conducted a pilot study to determine the feasibility of their research design.

Collaboration - working together with others to achieve a common goal
Simple sentence: The two companies entered into a collaboration to develop a new product.

Effectiveness - the degree to which something is successful in achieving its intended purpose
Simple sentence: The effectiveness of the marketing campaign was evident from the increase in sales.

Controversially - in a manner that causes disagreement or dispute
Simple sentence: The decision to raise prices was controversially debated among the company's executives.

Phrenology - a now-discredited theory that claimed personality traits could be determined by examining the shape and size of the skull
Simple sentence: Phrenology was popular during the 19th century but is no longer considered a valid scientific approach.

Epidemic - a widespread occurrence of a particular disease or condition
Simple sentence: The country is facing an epidemic of obesity due to unhealthy eating habits.

Responsible - acting with good judgment and consideration for others
Simple sentence: Companies should engage in responsible marketing practices that do not deceive or exploit consumers.

Invasion of privacy - an intrusion into someone's personal life or private affairs without their consent
Simple sentence: The unauthorized publication of personal photographs is an invasion of privacy.

Misuse - using something inappropriately or for the wrong purpose
Simple sentence: The teacher reprimanded the student for the misuse of classroom materials.

Amplify - to increase the volume, intensity, or effect of something
Simple sentence: Social media can amplify the reach and impact of a marketing campaign.

Decent - conforming to accepted standards of morality or respectability
Simple sentence: The company's management practices are based on a decent code of ethics.

Subsidize - to provide financial support or assistance to cover costs
Simple sentence: The government subsidizes renewable energy projects to promote sustainability.

Trend - a general direction in which something is developing or changing
Simple sentence: The latest fashion trend is oversized sunglasses.

Responsible advertising - ethical and accountable practices in promoting products or services
Simple sentence: Companies should engage in responsible advertising that does not mislead or manipulate consumers.

Lobby group - an organized group that aims to influence government policies or decisions
Simple sentence: The lobby group advocates for stricter regulations on environmental pollution.

Pathology - the study of the causes and effects of diseases
Simple sentence: The doctor specialized in pathology and conducted research on cancer.

Neuromarketing combines neuroscience and marketing techniques.

Correct! Wrong!

BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group uses brain scanning to test specific products and campaign ideas.

Correct! Wrong!

Brain scanning in neuromarketing is similar to traditional market research methods such as focus groups.

Correct! Wrong!

DaimlerChrysler and Ford's European arm were the first companies to use neuromarketing techniques.

Correct! Wrong!

Neuromarketing studies rely on large-scale samples to accurately predict consumer behavior.

Correct! Wrong!

The ventral putamen is a brain region associated with the sense of self.

Correct! Wrong!

Brand A was preferred by most subjects in a blind tasting based on fMRI scanning.

Correct! Wrong!

Neuromarketing techniques can only be used for advertising purposes.

Correct! Wrong!

Consumer advocates are generally supportive of neuromarketing techniques.

Correct! Wrong!

Critics argue that brain scanning for neuromarketing is an invasion of privacy.

Correct! Wrong!

ielts reading test - inside the mind of the consumer (T & F)

What is the term used to describe the merging of neuroscience and marketing?
Answer: Neuromarketing

Which tools are utilized in neuromarketing to gain insights into purchasing decisions?
Answer: Electroencephalogram (EEG) mapping and functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI)

Who was the first person to apply brain-imaging technology in neuromarketing?
Answer: Gerry Zaltman

Which marketing consultancy set up a dedicated neuromarketing arm called BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group?
Answer: BrightHouse

What does fMRI stand for?
Answer: Functional Magnetic-Resonance Imaging

How does fMRI provide insights into brain activity?
Answer: It generates real-time images showing areas of increased blood flow.

Which brain region is associated with the sense of self?
Answer: Medial prefrontal cortex

What did a blind tasting study reveal about the preference for cola drinks?
Answer: Most subjects preferred Brand B based on fMRI scanning.

According to Steven Quartz, how can neuromarketing technologies be utilized in advertising?
Answer: To create more responsible advertising

What concerns do critics raise about brain-scanning in neuromarketing?
Answer: Invasion of privacy and potential misuse of individuals' preferences

What is the term used to describe the fusion of neuroscience and marketing?

Correct! Wrong!

Which tools are used in neuromarketing to scan the brain?

Correct! Wrong!

Who was the first person to apply brain-imaging technology for neuromarketing?

Correct! Wrong!

Which company set up a dedicated neuromarketing arm called BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group?

Correct! Wrong!

What does fMRI stand for?

Correct! Wrong!

What is the basic principle of brain scanning in neuromarketing?

Correct! Wrong!

Which brain region is associated with the sense of self?

Correct! Wrong!

In a blind tasting study, which brand did most subjects prefer based on fMRI scanning?

Correct! Wrong!

According to Steven Quartz, what can neuromarketing technologies help create in advertising?

Correct! Wrong!

What is one concern raised by critics about brain-scanning in neuromarketing?

Correct! Wrong!

ielts reading test – inside the mind of the consumer - Quiz

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