Neuromarketing is a recent emerging disciplinary field in marketing. It also borrows similar tools and methodologies from other fields such as neuroscience and psychology. The term "neuromarketing" was introduced in 2002 by Dutch marketing professor Ale Smidts, but research in the field can be found earlier in 1990s.
Gerald Zaltman is associated to one of the first experiments in neuromarketing. In the late 1990s, both Gemma Calvert (UK) and Gerald Zaltman (USA) had established consumer neuroscience companies. Marketing professor Gerald Zaltman patented the Zaltman metaphor elicitation technique (ZMET) in the 1990s with the purpose to sell advertising. ZMET explored the human subconscious with specially selected sets of images that cause a positive emotional response and activate hidden images, metaphors stimulating the purchase. Graphical collages were constructed on the base of detected images, which lays in the basis for commercials. ZMET quickly gained popularity among hundreds of major companies-customers including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Nestle, Procter & Gamble. Zaltman and his associates were employed by those organizations to investigate brain scans and observe neural activity of consumers. In 1999, he began to use the fMRI to show correlations between consumer brain activity and marketing stimuli. Zaltman's marketing research methods enhanced psychological research used in marketing tools.
The term 'neuromarketing' was first published in 2002 in an article by BrightHouse, a marketing firm based in Atlanta. BrightHouse sponsored neurophysiologic (nervous system functioning) research into marketing divisions; they constructed a business unit that used fMRI scans for market research purposes. The firm rapidly attracted criticism and disapproval concerning conflict of interest with Emory University, who helped establish the division. This enterprise disappeared from public attention and now works with over 500 clients and consumer-product businesses. The "Pepsi Challenge", a blind taste test of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, was a study conducted in 2004 that brought attention to neuromarketing. In 2006, Dr. Carl Marci (USA) founded Innerscope Research that focused on Neuromarketing research. Innerscope research was later acquired by the Nielsen Corporation in May 2015 and renamed Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience. Unilever's Consumer Research Exploratory Fund (CREF) too had been publishing white papers on the potential applications of neuromarketing.
Collecting information on how the target market would respond to a product is the first step involved for organisations advertising a product. Traditional methods of marketing research include focus groups or sizeable surveys used to evaluate features of the proposed product. Some of the conventional research techniques used in this type of study are the measurement of cardiac electrical activity (ECG) and electrical activity of the dermis (AED) of subjects. However, it results in an incompatibility between market research findings and the actual behavior exhibited by the target market at the point of purchase.Human decision-making is both a conscious and non-conscious process in the brain, and while this method of research succeeded in gathering explicit (or conscious) emotions, it failed to gain the consumer's implicit (or unconscious) emotions. Non-conscious information has a large influence in the decision-making process.