Get your face read, your brain measured, and your heart rate checked

Get your face read, your brain measured, and your heart rate checked

Posted by Annelies Querner-Verkerk on Mon 07 May. 2012 - 2 minute read

For many years, questionnaires and interviews were used to assess needs, motives, and preferences of consumers. But, non-verbal responses can also provide important information. Repeatedly, behavioral research has demonstrated that people often don’t do what they say they will do. Recently, innovative research methods and techniques found their way into the field of marketing studies.

Neuromarketing has become increasingly more popular

Neuromarketing (Smidts, 2002) is a field of marketing that studies consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. It is an interesting mix of companies and universities that invest in neuromarketing to gather more information about consumer behavior. Recently, neuromarketing professionals from all over the world have united themselves in the NMSBA, the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association.


In the field of neuromarketing several different technologies are used to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, outward expressions such as facial expressions, and changes in one's physiological state.

All techniques are aimed at learning more about why consumers make the decisions the way they do, and if a part of the brain is telling them to make these decisions. Techniques such as EEG are used, as well as MRI tools.


Basic emotions, represented by facial expressions, are not conscious and can thus deliver great information about subconscious processes.

Added value

The added value of measuring facial expressions, detecting small changes in emotions, in neuromarketing is that it tells a lot about appreciation towards brands or products.

A positive emotion towards a product can determine a positive decision. It’s all about the connections that are made unconsciously. Immediately after a product or visual is introduced to the consumer, he or she feels positive or negative emotions. Researchers worldwide measure these emotions by using FaceReader, software that automatically classifies facial expressions.

FREE WHITE PAPER: FaceReader methodology

Download the free FaceReader methodology note to learn more about facial expression analysis theory.

  • How FaceReader works
  • More about the calibration
  • Insight in quality of analysis & output

Eye tracking

Often eye tracking technology is combined with facial expression analysis techniques to provide insight in preferences, desire, appreciation, and more. Both eye tracking and expression analysis can add substantial power to your research by providing information about attention and emotion.

Scan paths indicate for example how people look at websites and advertisements: which parts of an advertisement they actually look at and for how long they look at various items. And when a participant has previous experience with an application, the scan path of the eyes will have fewer fixations. Modern eye trackers can easily generate this information, which makes them increasingly popular in neuromarketing studies. Combining research tools such as an eye tracker, FaceReader, and The Observer XT (coding and analysis software), can add substantial power to your research.


Our own subconscious has a lot more influence on our behavior then we could ever imagine. What do we really see, notice, and what is registered in our memory? How do we make decisions? By making use of new research methods and techniques, marketers try to understand these processes. The better we know how the brain functions, the better we know how to influence decision making processes. Of course, advertisement placement and government campaigns can then be adjusted and made more effective.

In tools such as The Observer XT, facial expressions, physiological data, eye tracking data, and video can be integrated. To provide a good overview of stimulus-response, such a tool can be of real value to your research.


Smidts, A. (2002) Kijken in Het Brein: Over De Mogelijkheden Van Neuromarketing. ERIM Report Series Reference No. EIA-2002-012-MKT.

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