You and your brain are in the crosshairs of neuromarketing

Why does this not seem altogether good news? Details have recently been revealed about new insights into the human brain — and how marketers can make use of them to sell more stuff.

Just in from Daily News & Analysis — which reportedly “has fast entrenched itself in the lives of a young and dynamic readership in India’s commercial capital Mumbai” and from that position offers its readers “a composite picture of India and the world” — is a story about new discoveries in neuroscience that are expected to revolutionize the marketing world. How? By using tests to measure, with a high degree of accuracy, your brain’s responses to whatever catches your eye. Well, maybe not your brain, but focus groups of brains enough like yours that sellers will be homing in on you as never before. It’s called EEG-based neuromarketing.

It’s all covered in a new book titled The Buying Brain: secrets for selling to the subconscious mind, by A.K. Pradeep, founder and CEO of NeuroFocus Inc and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose MySpace page says that his brain research company is going to change the world as we know it forever.

“Companies around the world, including the largest and most successful global giants”, reports DN&A, “are increasingly turning to EEG-based neuromarketing that measures the whole brain because it offers far more accuracy, reliability, and actionable results than conventional market research methods.” That “actionable results” business refers to you and me, Mr. & Ms. Target Market.

But to move from the Daily News & Analysis over to Amazon.com, here are a couple of tips from its Product Description segment which says “The Buying Brain is your guide to the ultimate business frontier – the human brain.”

1) Your brain gets scared in some stores. Your conscious mind doesn’t know it, of course, but your subconscious mind views sharp corners as a threat. Who knew?

2) Too much of one thing can make your brain go blind. “Repetition blindness” sets in when we see too many of the same objects. (The TV department of Best Buy either has not figured this out yet, or has found that TV buyers like to buy blindly.)

3) Men and women are hard-wired to shop differently. Men shop by looking for targets; women shop by looking for landmarks. Women explore their territory; men make maps.

There are fewer and fewer secrets. You may indeed be able to improve your memory or strengthen brain function, but marketers are probably going to be one step ahead of you. That caveat emptor phrase has morphed from “buyer beware” to Be Very Afraid.

The curious world of cyberspace

Disappearing from cyberspace is a little like being a tree that falls in the forest. A very small tree. Having disappeared from cyberspace myself for a couple of weeks, I am comforted by the fact that the forest is very large.

It’s not that this space disappeared, just that Boomers and Beyond disappeared. Boomers and Beyond is a blog primarily about issues critical to over-50 generations, and it came to pass on  True/Slant.com a couple of years ago. It dealt with health care and fitness and housing choices and brain exercises and driving safety, and often diverted into rants about gay rights and abortion rights and gun control and other miscellany — because the True/Slant folks were a free-wheeling bunch and why should anybody quit worrying about rights and justice when they turn 50? All those profound words are archived in this nifty blog (this WordPress one right here) created by incredible friend-of-B&B-&-this space Mary Trigiani, so that if anyone stumbles into the forest and wants to study a small bush those twigs — OK, enough with the metaphor — are there to be read.

True/Slant didn’t actually disappear; it got bought by Forbes, and is gradually reappearing (as a New And Improved Forbes blogsite) there. Boomers & Beyond is reportedly going to reappear thereon, as soon as a contract appears. In the interim, it is just sitting there inert, and after several watchful readers noticed its inertia (posting anything new isn’t an option at True/Slant any more) I decided to venture once more into cyberspace.

It’s pleasant to meet you here. I hope we’ll meet again soon.

On learning at 30… or 40… or…

True/Slant contributor Gina Welch, on turning 30 just now, posted a fine list of 20 things she learned in her twenties, at the precise moment when I’d been musing about the passage of time myself. A somewhat more elderly muse, that is, since mine was prompted by the realization that day before yesterday marked the 85th anniversary of my parents’ marriage. In case that doesn’t sound elderly enough, my parents were both born in 1897, whew.

So in response to Gina’s wisdom here are six things I learned in my sixties (which are way past, at that.) It was terribly hard not to plagiarize, especially Gina’s Listen to your mother, even if it’s only to her long-departed voice in your head, or Wallow not, advice that improves exponentially with age.

1 – Get up early in the morning. It’s way more fun when you aren’t doing it because the baby’s crying, the school bus is waiting or the boss is calling… but just because the To-Do list actually contains stuff you want to do. Plus, days have fewer hours in them.

2 – Go back to school. Classmates a generation or two younger can be wise beyond your years. After a lifetime of writing for newspapers and magazines (you remember print journalism?) I joined the Class of ’00 at the University of San Francisco to pick up an MFA in short fiction. Who knew? If you run into anyone ready to publish my short story collection, let me know. A few of them have actually seen the light of publication, but I’m going to publish The Marshallville Stories in full if I live long enough… or perhaps if I learn enough in my 70s.

3 – Medicare is good. Imagine not having to freak out at every bodily suggestion that fatal expenses could be right around the corner. Imagine everybody having that unfreakable experience. How about we pass health reform?

4 – Listen to your daughter. She can probably teach you a LOT about changing mores, gender identities, adventure travel and how to see the world. Not to mention low fashion, hair styling, organic food and living well.

5 – Listen to your granddaughter. She can definitely teach you about computer programs, digital photography, what 18-year-old college art students are doing, and teenage music. You can close your ears when the teenage music part comes.

6 – Count your blessings. Seriously. If you’re still able to get up in the morning and remember how to count, this is good exercise. And if you count forwards and then repeat the same numbers backward you have exercised your brain, which is increasingly important. At a certain point in life it is tempting to reflect on the world when nobody locked their doors and you dashed onto airplanes just as they were pulling up the steps. And people apologized if they inadvertently used the D-word in front of your mother (there’s her voice again in my head…) So it’s okay to count nostalgic blessings, too; just don’t forget about par courses or contemporary chamber music or sunsets over the Pacific or that grandson who speaks Mandarin and Spanish at 17…

Thanks, Gina. Happy Birthday.