I recently read the book “Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom. Apart from the fact that it is written in a bit populist way, the basic ideas are quite interesting. The book reports on research where researchers looked into the brains of people using techniques such as fMRI when being exposed to advertisements, brands, etc, and crossed observed brain activity with known brain activity patterns for fear, interest, excitement, etc. While the main goal of the book is the study the effectiveness of advertising, it also has many general lessons to learn. The research underpins notions such as what people say does not always correspond to what they really think (e.g. few people say they like reality shows, but they are enormously popular). Of course, for companies this provides a powerful tool to be more efficient in deciding what products to deliver to the market.
All companies strive towards getting a better customer insight such that they can serve customers with products they really need, like, want, etc. Different approaches are applied, including trend spotting, surveys, user experience labs, living labs and data mining. This book seems to add a new, yet still somewhat expensive, approach to get closer to real customer insight. I am curious to see whether and when it will find its way to marketing on a global scale.