New opportunities for students to learn about consumer behaviour

  • Date

    Fri 15 Sep 23

A student attaching a wire to Dr Erik Jacobi's head to carry out marketing tests

Neuromarketing is on the rise at the University of Essex.

Described as a modern way of understanding consumers’ emotions, motivations, preferences, and decisions, neuromarketing is on the increase, and students in Essex Business School will have the chance to study it in detail from October.

A new module will be available to third-year undergraduate students on the BSc Management and Marketing degree.

Dr Erik Jacobi, lecturer in marketing, who leads the new module and is Director of the University’s neuromarketing lab, said: “It is exciting to be able to offer our students the chance to study neuromarketing in more depth. It is becoming more and more popular in the world of marketing, and offers many lessons that will be useful to our students when they go out into the workplace.”

Neuromarketing is the study of how people’s brains respond to marketing stimuli, such as advertising messages and visuals, by measuring physiological and neural signals, including eye movement, pupil dilation, heart rate, skin conductivity, facial expression, and brain activity. People might watch, for example, a video, or look at an app or a website, and by measuring their physiological responses it is possible to get a clearer sense of how they feel and how engaged they are.

Dr Jacobi has spent the last few years setting up the neuromarketing lab at the University with two colleagues – Dr Vito De Feo from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, and Dr Helge Gillmeister from the Department of Psychology.

They all wanted to create a space for students from different disciplines to come together to work on innovative projects closely connected to the University’s research and consultancy activities.

Dr Jacobi said: “We use the lab for several purposes. We use it for research, for commercial activity including consultancy and, of course, for teaching.

“It is great to be able to offer students the opportunity to come into the lab and carry out experiments and gain a much deeper understanding of neuromarketing and how it can help solve problems, including those of the businesses we collaborate with.”

Over the last few years, the three academics have been working hard to promote the lab and now the facility is going “from strength to strength”.

They are already collaborating with local businesses, especially in the field of digital marketing, and due to their projects securing external funding, they have been able to set up this new undergraduate module in neuromarketing.

Marketing student Maria Hristova learned about neuromarketing for her master’s dissertation.

She said: “Learning about neuromarketing has been a great learning experience. Designing my own experiment and using neuromarketing biometric tools on people was very exciting and gave me the opportunity to see a totally new side of consumer behaviour and understand how our brain reacts to stimuli, not simply what we self-report in surveys.

“It has definitely broadened my knowledge of consumer behaviour and showed me how people are not solely driven by conscious decisions but influenced by subconscious emotional responses.”