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Consumers often develop close relationships with their preferred brands and goods. To achieve marketing goals, companies need to develop in customers a positive brand attachment. When they succeed, the brand is immediately recognized, it elicits specific responses, and it becomes more difficult to be replaced by competitors. Previous studies have suggested the existence of a relationship between brand evaluation and a reward-related functional circuit. The present study measured brain responses to different brands of mineral water. In particular, we were interested in analyzing the impact of brand attachment on brain modulation. We hypothesized that brand evaluation would be associated with reward processing, and that brain oscillatory activity would be modulated by different expectations based on previous experience. Time-frequency analyses of EEG oscillatory activity were performed on 26 healthy subjects (13 males and 13 females) during water intake of differently labeled glasses of mineral water. Our results confirmed that brand processing is related to activity of the frontocentral reward-related network. Beta activity seems to be modulated by the experience of pleasure associated with a favorite brand, while theta modulation seems to reflect the lack of this experience. In conclusion, our study showed how exposure to a brand can affect EEG modulation. Additionally, we confirmed a possible relationship between brand evaluation and reward processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
The effect of brand on EEG modulation: a study on mineral water1
Claudio Lucchiari, Gabriella Pravettoni
Università degli Studi di Milano
In many cases, consumers develop tight relationships with their preferred brands and goods.
Companies aim at developing strong and positive emotional relationships between their brands and
their customers. When they succeed, the brand is immediately recognized and it becomes more
difficult to be _replaced by competitors. Previous studies have suggested the existence of a
relationship between brand evaluation and a reward-related functional circuit.
The aim of the present study is to gauge brain responses to different mineral water brands. In
particular, we were interested in analyzing the impact of brand attachment on brain modulation.
We hypothesized that brand evaluation is associated with the processing of reward, and then that the
brain oscillatory activity may be found to be modulated by different expectations, based on previous
Time-frequency analyses of the EEG oscillatory activity were performed on 26 healthy subjects (13
males and 13 females) during water intake of differently labeled mineral water.
Our results confirmed that brand processing is joined with the activity of the frontocentral reward-
related network. Beta activity, , seems to be modulated by the experience of pleasure associated to a
favorite brand. Consequently, theta modulation seems to reflect the lack of this experience.
In conclusion, our study showed how exposure to a brand can affect EEG modulation. Additionally,
a possible relationship between brand evaluation and reward processing is confirmed.
Keywords: EEG, spectral analysis, neuromarketing, cortical correlates of brand
1 This is a pre-print version. To consult and to cite the final version: Lucchiari, C., & Pravettoni, G. (2012).
The Effect of Brand on EEG Modulation. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 71(4), 199-204.
According to one of the microeconomics models’ assumptions, the experience of pleasure
associated to one particular product depends on its intrinsic characteristics (and, consequently, on
its main ingredients and their combination) apart from the state of mind of a consumer. Indeed, it is
clear that the pleasure associated with tasting some food or beverage depends on individual
conditions such as mood or motivation in that given time. Nevertheless, as the results of different
studies on this subject confirm, the above assumption has proven to be disputable. As a matter of
fact, it was determined that it was possible to modify the consumer’s experience on a particular
food or beverage by altering the way the product is presented and not its intrinsic properties , i.e. its
context features. Actually, the marketing and advertising tend to affect exactly these context
features. A beverage can be presented in such a way to extol only some characteristics It is possible,
for instance, to elicit a relative evaluation (comparing one product with another) instead of
revealing its absolute value. In particular, the consumption of one particular brand can be associated
with the specific expectations on the consumers’ part. It means that there is a feasibility to modify
the level of consumer’s enjoyment experienced by consumption of a particular product
manipulating their expectations towards this product. This phenomenon, known as brand
attachment, may induce a consumer to buy in a privileged way one particular product considering it
to be the most pleasant in consumption. For example, one’s favorite beverage is generally
considered more appealing compared with a beverage equally tasteful but unfamiliar.
In this framework Lee, Frederick and Ariely (2006) have examined the role of expectations in
evaluating the taste of beer using a blind vs. overt taste test. They found that the taste experience
can be affected by contextual factors, such as the presence of a secret ingredient able to generate
specific expectations. Similar results have been already described by Allison’s pioneering work in
this area of research (Allison, 1964). A famous brand may induce subjects to develop positive
anticipations about the beer to be tasted, generally evaluated to be more pleasant than a comparable
but unknown beer. The same phenomenon was confirmed in cinemas; Klaaren, Hodges and Wilson
(1994) found that spectators’ judgment can be strongly influenced by their expectations based on
previous descriptions.
More recently, the study of Shiv, Carmon and Ariely (2005) showed that it is possible to increase
consumers’ cognitive performance by a high price attribution to an energy drink. In this case, the
price/quality heuristics seems not only to be able to modify taste evaluations, suggesting the
relationship higher price-better quality, but it also seems to influence the relative effect of a product;
expensive products seem to produce higher self-perceived effects. These results demonstrate that
communication and marketing strategies are worthwhile investments.
In addition to behavioral data, many researchers shifted their attention to the neuronal determinants
of marketing actions. Plassman, O’Doherty, Shiv and Rangel (2008) have experimentally shown
that offering to taste some wine with the price of 5$ to non-expert consumers and, then, offering the
same wine priced at 90$, led to a substantial change of participants’ pleasure experience. The
participants judged the more expensive sample more tasteful.
So, it turned out that this difference in evaluation is associated with an activation of different
cortical areas. In fact, the medial orbitofrontal cortex turned out to be more active only when the
sample of wine was considered to be the better one, even if in both cases the wine was the same.
Consequently, different brain activities, in particular different activations of the medial orbitofrontal
cortex responsible for pleasure or hedonic experience encoding, may correspond to the same taste
stimulations. This means that better evaluation of more expensive wine is not just simple pretence
or social adjustment, but rather is related to the fact, that the brain represents the experience in a
different way.
More generally, Hubert and Kenning (2008) showed how the evaluation of a particular product and
experience associated with it can be correlated with the function of the circuit which includes
amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex, modulated by the dopaminergic system and different prefrontal
areas. Dalli, Romani and Gistri (2006) provided evidence for the existence of an asymmetric brain
response to liked and disliked brands. In particular, the amygdale activation appeared to be
associated to liked brands, while disliked brands activated a more heterogeneous fronto-temoral
network. McClure, Li, Tomlin, Cypert and Montague (2004), using an fMRI paradigm based on
covert and overt taste tests, demonstrated a different modulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
during the evaluation of a famous brand drink in comparison to a drink without a label . Taken
together, several studies suggest that brand evaluation can be correlated with the activity of a
reward-related system. Thus, we supposed that marketing actions can broadly modulate prefrontal
cortex activity and that this modulation can be measured by means of EEG. This methodology
allows for analyzing the dynamics of neural activity with a high temporal resolution. Brain
oscillations were used as a powerful tool to analyze different cognitive processes (Basar, Basar-
Eroglu¸, Karakas, Schiirman, 1999; 2001). In particular, since theta (4-8 Hz) and beta (14-30)
activities are generally considered to be EEG correlates of the reward processing system, these
frequency ranges may be of particular interest for our study.
The theta rhythm activity (4-8 Hz), was associated with the thalamocortical loop function related to
evaluation of post decision feedbacks (Lucchiari and Pravettoni, 2010, Christie and Tata, 2009,
Cohen et al. 2007), and more generally, with the evaluation of one’s own decision. Theta activity
has been associated with negative feedback. Conversely, some studies (Marco-Pallares at al., 2008)
suggested the relationship between beta modulation and reward evaluation. We supposed that
modulation of theta and beta rhythms of the frontal cortical areas may be related with the
modulation of specific marketing actions.
We were particularly interested to find out what kind of influence the brand value of some products
may have on one’s experience of pleasure and on their related cortical correlates. For this purpose,
we decided to make an experiment using bottled mineral water. Previously, similar experiments
were conducted on drinks with particular intrinsic characteristics like wine, beer, soft drinks, etc.
Yet, these characteristics may be considered basically unique (these may vary a lot from one type of
wine to another) and such taste differences may influence the registered cortex values. Besides that,
the reaction to wine or to any other alcoholic drinks may be different from one person to another
due to incidental reasons or consumers’ personal characteristics. Thus, we chose a rather neutral
product for this experiment while still representing a defined market of reference. In Italy, millions
of bottled water is sold every year. additionally, there are a lot of products with wide price range
and the consumers usually have their strong brand preferences in this field. So, most consumers
choose almost always the same brand, showing the presence of a brand attachment effect.
Previous studies have identified several brain areas activated by water intake. In particular, insula,
opercular, cingulated and orbito-frontal cortices have been found to respond when water is in the
mouth (Arujo, Kringelbach, Rolls, McGlone, 2003). These areas are differently modulated by the
the affect component of water taste (pleasureness vs. unpleasureness), but this activation do not
correlate with taste intensity, that is its pure sensorial component (Kringelbach, O’Dohert, Rolls
and Andrews, 2003).
The insula response to water is also modulated by temperature (Craig et al. 2000). Thus, we decided
to deliver the water at the same temperature (20 ºC), varying only the brand parameter.
Since brand attachment may be affected by some consumer characteristics such as gender, we
expected to find a gender pattern in brain modulation due to brand processing.
For the present experiment we have chosen to study the consumers of still water in order to exclude
evaluation of intrinsic factor of CO2 concentration, which varies from one sparkling water to
Following the study by McClure and Colls (2004) we aimed at evaluating behavioral and neural
responses to mineral waters when presented anonymously and labeled. Furthermore, we wanted to
study the correlation between preference, expressed by subjective evaluations, and corresponding
brain signals. As opposed to McClure and Colls (2004) we used EEG instead of fMRI. The use of
another methodology allowed us to capture different aspects of the examined neural processes such
as the temporal sequence of activated brain areas. We hypothesized that a favorite brand may act as
safety clue from the environment. Thus, goods recognized as safe may be processed as being non-
risky or privileged
Hence, we expected to find:
1) Water labeled with the favorite brand to be more appreciated on subjective judgment;
2) Brand related cortical activity to be similar to the well known reward mechanisms; so, as we
may observe in gambling tasks, we expected to find different cortical responses to familiar
brand, subjectively considered as non-risky and unknown and then potentially risky
Eighty persons were contracted within the University of Milan. These 80 participants have been
given a questionnaire to identify their lifestyle, preferences and the way of consuming of different
foodstuffs, including mineral bottled water. Twenty six subjects (13 men and 13 women with an
average age = 24.5, S.D.= 2.4) have participated in the study. Selection criteria were as follows:
preferences for clear still bottled water, familiarity with bottled water market, absence of
neurological diseases, right hand use, no alcohol or drug abuse. Thirty-two subjects were selected
but four of them declined the invitation to participate in this study due to scheduling problems.
The subjects were seated at a desk on a comfortable chair. In front of them there were different
glasses with straws. During this exercise a subject was provided with a certain glass identified by a
specific brand of water (the brand was clearly stated during each trial; furthermore, the glass was
filled with water by a researcher every time from a clearly visible bottle). So, the subject was asked
to try this water (5 ml each try), to taste it for 5 seconds and, after that, to fill in a set of visual
analogical scales (VAS) related to water’s different qualities (taste, freshness, lightness, pleasure
For each subject three types of water were used: the subject’s favorite water (individualized through
the questionnaire filled in by the subject in the pre-experimental stage), an unknown sub-brand
water (discount) and another brand of water of very well-known and high-quality. Each type of
water was tasted and evaluated 10 times, in two different sessions. Each session included 5
evaluations of each type of water. After each evaluation there was an interstimulus interval of 5
seconds left. The medium duration of each session was equal to 4.25 minutes. Between the first and
the second session there was a break of 5 minutes, during which each subject was assigned a
distracting and enjoyable brain-training-like task of medium cognitive loading. The water
temperature was constantly monitored and kept at the room temperature (20 ºC). The differently
labeled bottles were filled in advance with the same mineral water. Subjects were trained to push a
button with a finger of the right hand to trigger EEG recordings after each water intake. They were
also trained to look at fix point in the center of the screen after trigger activation and to avoid
movements before the next glass.
The EEG was recorded with a 32-channel DC amplifier (Cadwell system). An ElectroCap with
Ag/AgCl electrodes was used to record EEG from active scalp sites referred to earlobe (10/20
system of electrode placement). Additionally, two electro-oculogram (EOG) electrodes were placed
on the outer sides of the eyes. The data was recorded using sampling rate of 250 Hz and filtered
with a bandpass of 0.01–50 Hz. The impedance of recording electrodes was monitored for each
subject prior to data collection and it was kept below 5 kΩ.
Trials with base-peak EOG amplitude and post-EOG amplitude of more than 50µV amplifier
saturation or with a baseline shift exceeding 200 µV/s were automatically rejected off-line. After
EOG correction and visual inspection only artifact-free trials were took into consideration. Fourteen
electrodes were used for the next statistical analysis (4 central, Fz, Cz, Pz, Oz; 10 lateral, F3, F4,
C3, C4, T3, T4, P3, P4, 01, 02). The data was recorded for each epoch and triggered every second
after water intake. In order to study time–frequency behavior of the electrical activity elicited by
water intake, single trial data was convoluted using a complex Morlet Wavelet: w(t, f0) = (2πσ2 t )
−1/2 e−t2/2σ2 t e2iπf0t.
The relation f0/σf (where σf = 1/(2πσt)) was set to 6.7 (Tallon-Baudry et al., 1997). Time-varying
changes of energy (convolution between wavelet and signal to the square) in the studied frequencies
(from 1 to 40 Hz; linear increase) with respect to baseline were computed for each trial and
averaged for each subject in order to figure out the grand average afterwards. Mean values of power
increase/decrease for the different conditions (favorite, known and unknown brands) were obtained
for the three midline electrode locations (Fz, Cz, Pz). Since our main hypothesis was that a brand
manipulation may have an effect similar to a reward, we replicated here the data analysis used in
previous reward-related studies (Lucchiari and Pravettoni 2010, Marco-Pallares et al. 2008).
The ANOVA test was used to test hypothesis. For all the ANOVAs, degrees of freedom were
Greenhouse–Geisser corrected where appropriate.
All the statistical analyses were performed using SPSS 17.0 software.
Behavioral measures
We measured the impact of brand information on subject experience by comparing the mean values
of reported ratings for water when administered with different brands. We found significant
differences for the three conditions (see figure 1). In particular, the liking (F (2,25) = 23.607, p = .
000), pureness (F (2,25) = 22.174, p =.001) and lightness (F (2,25) = 22.512, p =.001) were rated
differently. Pairwise comparisons showed that the favorite brand was rated significantly higher in
liking (t (25) = 12.490, p = .000), pureness (t (25) = 8.170, p =.000) and lightness (t (25) = 10.101, p
= .000) than the unknown brand. Favorite brands were scored higher in liking also with respect to
known brands (t (25) = 17,456, p = .000). No differences were found in freshness ratings. As a
result of gender comparison, we found out that women reported higher ratings in liking of their
favorite brand (t (24) = 9.195, p =.001).
Figure 1 here
Time-frequency analysis
The time–frequency analysis of the three conditions indicated a clear enhancement of theta activity
(4–8 Hz) between 50 and 450 ms after water intake at Fz electrode. In particular, the most
pronounced increase was found for the unknown brand (see figure 2).
Figure 2 here
Considering other frequency bands, we found out an increase in the mid-beta (8-22 Hz) for the
favorite brand between 450 and 900 ms (see figure 3).
Figure 3 here
An ANOVA of the mean power change for the theta frequency band (4–8 Hz, time-window 50–450
ms) was performed including brand type (favorite, unknown, known) and electrode (midline
locations: Fz, Cz, Pz) as within-subject factors. Significant effects were found for brand type
(F(2,50) = 4.23, p = .001), electrode (F(2,50) = 4.08, p = 0.025) and for the interaction between
brand type × electrode (F(4,100) = 3.45, p =.005). A significant increase of the theta frequency was
present at the frontal electrode (see figure 2). A Contrast analysis revealed that the difference was
significant between Fz and Pz (F (1,25) = 6.721, p = .0.01) and Fz and Cz (F (1,25) = 5.654, p = .
024), but not between Cz and Pz (F (1,25) = 2.127, p = .125). The favorite brand also showed to
have a higher impact on theta activity. In fact, contrast analysis revealed a significant difference
between favorite and known brands (F (1,25) = 4.922, p = .034) as well as between favorite and
unknown brands (F (1,25) = 5.786, p =.002). Also known and unknown brands were found to
differently modulate the theta activity (F (1,25) = 5.239, p = .019).
A mixed ANOVA was performed using brands (favorite, known, unknown) as within-factor and
gender as between factor in order to verify the existence of gender differences in theta modulation.
As a result, no gender effect was found.
The most pronounced difference in power change in the mid-beta band (18–22 Hz) between favorite
brand and the other brands was observed in the 450–900 ms time-window. The corresponding
ANOVA performed in this time-window (450–900 ms) showed a main effect of brand type (F(2,50)
= 4.89, p = .000), which reflects the increase of the mid-beta power (18–22 Hz) in favorite brand
trials when compared to other trials. In fact, contrast analysis showed a significant difference
between favorite and known brands (F(1,25) = 5.012, p = .011) and between favorite and unknown
brands (F(1,25) = 5.989, p = .003). A frontocentral scalp distribution was observed (electrode
condition F(2,50) = 3.63, p = .025; interaction between brand type x electrode, F(4,100) = 2.38, p =
.032). In particular mid-beta Fz activity was found to be significantly higher with respect to Pz (F
(1,25) = 6.345, p = .000). No significant differences were found between Fz and Cz, even though
mid-beta showed higher increase in Fz.
A mixed ANOVA was performed using brands (favorite, known, unknown) as within factor and
gender as between factor in Fz electrode in order to verify the existence of gender differences in
mid-beta modulation. The brand type resulted significant in terms of gender interaction (F (2, 48) =
3.123, p = .022). In particular, mid-beta showed higher power increase in known and favorite
brands (see figure 4) in women with respect to men.
Figure 4 here
This exploratory study showed how the brand influence can be revealed by means of
electrophysiological data analysis. In particular, we provide evidence for how taste of favorite
mineral water modulates frontal electrode sites activity in very different ways when compared to
tasting the same water but labeled as another brand. Besides that, the present study showed that by
means of marketing actions, it is possible to obtain different evaluations for the same water from the
same subject. Known brands, in fact, were considered purer and lighter. Further, the experience of
pleasure was correlated to the brand manipulation, similarly to other studies conducted on different
goods (i.e, Rao and Monroe, 1989). Moreover, our data has shown significant differences in
electrode sites recordings as a result of brand manipulation. In particular, it seems to be plausible to
infer a relationship between the degree of theta band change and the experience of pleasure caused
by the taste of a familiar brand. Unknown brands labeled water, considered low-quality and
subjective bad tasting was in fact associated to an increase of theta activity, similar to the one
observed during processing of negative feedback (Marco-Pallares et al., 2008). Since the parameters
that have been shown to affect brain response to water intake, as the temperature in particular (de
Arujo et al., 2003; Craig et al. 2000), were kept constant, the different electrophysiological
modulations found may be directly associated to brand manipulation. The fact that marketing
actions may modulate brain response is consistent with previous studies where neuroimaging
techniques were used (Plassman et al., 2008; Hubert and Kenning, 2008).
Taken together, the above data highlights that the brand assumes both symbolic and biological
values. The brand, in fact, identifies something well known and reliable: a safety option. Thus, the
brand seems to be a kind of marker, which is able to drive our behavior. A safe and reliable source
of water in nature represents an environment resource to keep in mind with particular attention as it
may be essential, especially to avoid potential dangers (like an unsafe potentially fatal food source).
The brand seems to work in the same way, but for one slight difference: the brand is not necessarily
associated to a healthy product or its way of consumption, such as drinking alcohol, smoking or the
use of legal or illegal drugs. Many people, for instance, declare to prefer a branded medicine to
some generic medicine due to a better efficacy, even if some part of its efficacy can be generated
by the brand effect, which seems to cure headache better than anonymous medicine (Wager, 2005).
The same can be related to food and drink consumptions. A famous brand may generate a positive
evaluation, motivating an over consumption of calories or of unhealthy goods.
Linking the response of pre-frontal cortices to brand evaluation to the reward neural circuit, allows
us to suggest that unhealthy nutrition habits may be, at least partially, correlated to marketing
actions that associate brands with safe, non-risky behaviors, so eliciting approaching brain
Our study addressed also gender differences, a key characteristic of consumers’ research. In fact,
it’s well-known that males and females are differently influenced by a particular type of advertising
The existence of gender differences in behavior was supported both by economical and
neuropsychological literature (e.g , Croson, Gnezzy, Gnezzy, 2009, Jausovec and Jausovec, 2008)..
There was evidenced, in particular, that the gender difference affects numerous cerebral areas (e.g.
the hippocampus and the amygdale) as well as cognitive and emotional processes.
All of the above considerations should not be overlooked when the purchasing behavior is studied.
If we consider, for example, the emotions’ role to be fundamental for decision-making on
purchasing of some particular goods, we cannot ignore analyzing the gender differences on the way
they face the emotional experiences. Our data seem to confirm a different action of brand
manipulation in men and women, at least in mineral water choice. Even if it’s not yet very clear
what this different activation means, it is plausible to suggest that women are more affected by
brand attachment.
Naturally, the present study has research constraints that limit the generalizability of our data. First
of all our sample has exiguous participants’ number, and secondly the electrophysiological measure
used (EEG modulation) does not permit easy and direct interpretations. In fact, though the EEG in a
direct measure of neurons functions, with high time resolution, it has a poor spatial resolution and
presents a number of technical and methodological limitations. Since there are only a few studies on
this topic so far, and given the exploratory nature of our study, more research needs to be carried,
including the use of different brain imaging methods.
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Figure 1. Difference of water ratings between brands
favourit e
Figure 2. Theta changes in power at Fz in 50-450 time window.
Figure 3. Beta changes in power at Fz in 50-450 time window
Figure 4. Gender differences in mid-beta (18-22 Hz) modulation in the time-window 450-900 ms
after water intake at Fz.
... For instance, beta band activity has been observed to increase 200-400 ms after positive feedback informing about monetary gains using EEG (HajiHosseini, Fornells, and Marco 2012). Beta band activity seems to be modulated by the experience of pleasure associated with a favourite brand (Lucchiari and Pravettoni 2012;Boksem and Smidts 2015). In particular, beta band oscillations originating from the frontal cortex (FC) were examined. ...
... Several studies indicate that the frontal cortex is anatomically and functionally connected to structures that are related to positive and negative emotions (Davidson and Irwin 1999;Maglione et al. 2017). In particular, beta-band oscillations (12-30 Hz) originating from frontal regions have been associated with reward and pleasure (Boksem and Smidts 2015;HajiHosseini, Fornells, and Marco 2012;Khushaba et al. 2013;Lucchiari and Pravettoni 2012;Rakshit and Lahiri 2016;Vec-chiato et al. 2013). Based on these findings, a conceptual replication of Boksem and Smidts (2015) was performed to examine whether or not frontal beta band oscillations are related to individual wine preferences, and whether activity in the beta band adds predictive power to self-reported preferences. ...
... We also found two studies (Lucchiari andPravettoni 2012 andYucel et al. 2015) that analyse individual preferences for beverage during product experiences using EEG that gave contrasting results. Both experiments try to determine whether individual preferences for a brand could influence the brain activity during the tasting process. ...
Purpose-The aim of this paper is to assess whether or not electroencephalography (EEG) provides a valuable and substantial contribution to the prediction of consumer behaviour and their preferences during product consumption. In this study, we especially focus on individual preferences during a wine tasting experience. Design/Methodology/Approach-A consumer neuroscience experiment was carried out with 26 participants that evaluated different red wines while their brain activity was recorded with EEG. A within-subjects design was employed and the experiment was carried out in two sessions. All participants took part in a blind taste session (No Label session), in which information about the wine was not disclosed, and a normal taste session (Label session), during which the bottle and its label were visible. Findings-Our findings suggest that EEG is a useful tool to study brain activity during product experience. EEG has high temporal resolution, low costs, small dimensions and superior manoeuvrability compared to other consumer neuroscience tools. However, it is noticed that there is a lack of solid theoretical background regarding brain areas (e.g. frontal cortex) and brain activity (e.g. brain waves) related to consumer preferences during product experience. This lack of knowledge causes several difficulties in replicat-ing and validating the findings of other consumer neuroscience experiments for studying consumer behaviour.
... In a systematic review of the use of EEG in previous consumer neuroscience research, Bazzani et al. (2020) highlight that only 7% of all EEG consumer neuroscience studies have made use of real products or stimuli, including tactile, olfactory or taste stimuli, as part of the research design. One such study by Lucchiari and Pravettoni (2012), used EEG measures to identify the role of the brand in developing consumption preferences and habits when drinking different brands of mineral water. The study found that brand manipulation can influence brain activity and change consumer perception of a product, with EEG providing objective measures of these effects (Lucchiari and Pravettoni, 2012). ...
... One such study by Lucchiari and Pravettoni (2012), used EEG measures to identify the role of the brand in developing consumption preferences and habits when drinking different brands of mineral water. The study found that brand manipulation can influence brain activity and change consumer perception of a product, with EEG providing objective measures of these effects (Lucchiari and Pravettoni, 2012). Another study by Brown et al. (2012), shows that even when the taste of two soft drinks are identical, participants indicate a preference for the known brand by reporting higher perceived pleasantness. ...
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Purpose This methodological paper aims to demonstrate the potential benefits of using consumer neuroscientific methodologies to measure consumers’ subconscious responses when consuming wine during a taste experiment. By comparing conscious and subconscious evaluations during a tasting experience this study illustrates how this methodology offers a more nuanced understanding of the consumer evaluation of wine during a consumption experience. Design/methodology/approach The research made use of a single-case taste test experiment whereby a wine expert blind-tasted 20 white wine varietals. Throughout each tasting, subconscious responses were measured using electroencephalography (EEG), combined with conscious measures of stated preferences using a questionnaire. Findings Stark differences were observed between the results of the conscious and subconscious wine evaluation measures, underscoring the complex nature of consumer decision-making and preference development. This study practically demonstrates the use and value of EEG as a consumer neuroscientific methodology in a wine marketing context. Originality/value This paper demonstrates the value of neuroscience techniques in identifying differences in the conscious and subconscious wine evaluation measures. This study practically demonstrates the use and value of EEG as a consumer neuroscientific methodology in a wine marketing context.
... Time-frequency analysis of EEG oscillatory activity performed on 26 healthy subjects during mineral water intake of different brands confirmed that brand processing was associated with the activity of frontocentral reward-related network. β-activity was modulated by experience of pleasure associated with favourite brand whereas ϴ-modulation reflects the lack of this experience [20]. ...
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Conventional measurements used for consumer response to food products may be subject to cognitive bias, as measurement data was consumer reported thoughts or through questionnaires. Decision-making about food is influenced by complex set of emotions, feelings, attitudes and values that are not easy to assess simply by asking consumers their opinions. For an unbiased approach electroencephalography (EEG), an electrophysiological method can provide implicit and extensive data. EEG uses electrical activity of brain to record and explain perceptive, attentive as well as emotional processes of consumer towards foods. To enhance this understanding, recently there is growing interest in field of "neuromarketing," that uses neuroscientific techniques to study consumer behavior. The asymmetry of EEG signal between right and left hemispheres of brain can be used to determine acceptability of stimuli in a stimulated person. The accurate measurement through EEG enables marketers to compare consumer response to different marketing stimuli and impact moments associated with particular product or brand for better positioning of product in market.
... People often choose products based on their perceived value, thus what the brand represents rather than the brand's actual value (Airey, 2009). Consumer neuroscience tools can be used to investigate the emotional component underling brand evaluation and choice, for example, differences between two similar brands (e.g., Pepsi vs. Coke) (Ma et al., 2007(Ma et al., , 2008Lucchiari and Pravettoni, 2012;Reimann et al., 2012a,b;Pop et al., 2013;Al-Kwifi, 2016;Guo et al., 2018). Bosshard et al. (2016) used EEG to test whether or not liked and disliked brands are further associated with different motivational aspects. ...
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The use of neuroscience tools to study consumer behavior and the decision making process in marketing has improved our understanding of cognitive, neuronal, and emotional mechanisms related to marketing-relevant behavior. However, knowledge about neuroscience tools that are used in consumer neuroscience research is scattered. In this article, we present the results of a literature review that aims to provide an overview of the available consumer neuroscience tools and classifies them according to their characteristics. We analyse a total of 219 full-texts in the area of consumer neuroscience. Our findings suggest that there are seven tools that are currently used in consumer neuroscience research. In particular, electroencephalography (EEG) and eye tracking (ET) are the most commonly used tools in the field. We also find that consumer neuroscience tools are used to study consumer preferences and behaviors in different marketing domains such as advertising, branding, online experience, pricing, product development and product experience. Finally, we identify two ready-to-use platforms, namely iMotions and GRAIL that can help in integrating the measurements of different consumer neuroscience tools simultaneously. Measuring brain activity and physiological responses on a common platform could help by (1) reducing time and costs for experiments and (2) linking cognitive and emotional aspects with neuronal processes. Overall, this article provides relevant input in setting directions for future research and for business applications in consumer neuroscience. We hope that this study will provide help to researchers and practitioners in identifying available, non-invasive and useful tools to study consumer behavior.
... Time-frequency analysis of EEG oscillatory activity performed on 26 healthy subjects during mineral water intake of different brands confirmed that brand processing was associated with the activity of frontocentral reward-related network. β-activity was modulated by experience of pleasure associated with favourite brand whereas ϴ-modulation reflects the lack of this experience [30]. ...
Full-text available
Conventional measurements used to study consumer response to food products may be subject to cognitive bias, as measurement data was consumer's reported thoughts or through questionnaires. Therefore, for an unbiased approach electroencephalography (EEG), an electrophysiological method can provide implicit and extensive data. EEG uses electrical activity of brain to record and explain perceptive, attentive as well as emotional processes of consumer towards foods. The asymmetry of EEG signal between right and left hemispheres of anterior (frontal lobe) or posterior (parietal and occipital lobe) parts of brain can be used to determine acceptability of stimuli in a stimulated person. The accurate measurement through EEG enables marketers to compare consumer response to different marketing stimuli and impact moments associated with particular product or brand for better positioning of product in market.
... Given that water is often defined as tasteless by people (i.e., with the exception of highly trained 'hydrosommeliers'), we asked our participants to assess the characteristics that are more closely linked to thirst or to the advertising campaign related to mineral water [20,25,26] rather than the basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami). If people's perception of mineral water is affected by the emotional value of the stimuli, we would expect that certain characteristics of the water, such as its pleasantness, freshness, and lightness, would be enhanced by the tactile pleasantness of materials such as satin. ...
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The present study investigates the effect of container texture on people’s perception of four characteristics (i.e., freshness, pleasantness, level of carbonation, lightness) of mineral water (i.e., still or carbonated). Water was served in three commercial cups covered with a layer of sandpaper, satin, or the same material of the cup (plastic). The blindfolded participants were asked to evaluate the mineral water using visual analogue scales. The results showed that mineral water was perceived as fresher and more pleasant when contained in plastic cups than when it was contained in cups covered with sandpaper or satin. Moreover, mineral water was perceived as lighter when contained in plastic cups than when it was contained in cups covered with sandpaper. These results suggest that people’s perception of some characteristics of mineral water can be modulated by the texture of the container in which the liquid is served.
... EEG activity in the beta band range (12-30 Hz), particularly in the frontal and central areas, is associated with reward process and pleasantness (Hajihosseini et al. (2012); Khushaba et al. (2013); Park et al. (2017); Vecchiato et al. (2013)). For instance, Lucchiari & Pravettoni (2012) found that increased beta activity is related to pleasure associated with a favorite brand. Similarly, Boksem & Smidts (2015) investigated if a rise in the beta 1 band activity would reflect individual preference for a movie trailer during the product experience. ...
Conference Paper
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The study examines physiological and neuronal processes of 26 inexpert wine drinkers in order to understand how consumers judge and choose wines during product experience. We analysed if an increase in the beta band activity can be related to reward process and individual preference for a wine. The results confirmed that 1) tasting dierent wines modulate individual preferences and beta band activity and 2) the higher preferences for a wine corresponded to a stronger decrease in beta band oscillations.
Geographical Indication (GI) certifications enable producers to set production standards and create competitive advantage based on product's origin. In a coffee tasting experiment, brain responses to origin information of 40 participants, grouped equally by gender and involvement level, were collected by electroencephalography to verify: the impact of the GI cue in four brain waves (alpha, beta, delta and theta) and two brain lobes (frontal and temporal); preference; gender and involvement moderations. Results show that women presented power differences in both hemispheres, more channels/waves, which indicates greater sensitivity to the origin cue. Men presented power differences in fewer channels/waves. It is observed that involvement has a tenuous moderation effect when compared to gender. As for preference, the analysis of delta and theta waves indicated that men preferred coffee with GI; while women preferred coffee without GI, even though most of them indicated the opposite when verbally asked at the end of the tasting section.
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Background: In the past decade, marketing studies have greatly benefited from the adoption of neuroscience techniques to explore conscious and unconscious drivers of consumer behavior. Electroencephalography (EEG) is one of the most frequently applied neuroscientific techniques for marketing studies, thanks to its low cost and high temporal resolution. Objective: We present an overview of EEG applications in consumer neuroscience. The aim of this review is to facilitate future research and to highlight reliable approaches for deriving research and managerial implications. Method: We conducted a systematic review by querying five databases for the titles of articles published up to June 2020 with the terms [EEG] AND [neuromarketing] OR [consumer neuroscience]. Results: We screened 264 abstracts and analyzed 113 articles, classified based on research topics (e.g., product characteristics, pricing, advertising attention and memorization, rational, and emotional messages) and characteristics of the experimental design (tasks, stimuli, participants, additional techniques). Conclusions: This review highlights the main applications of EEG to consumer neuroscience research and suggests several ways EEG technique can complement traditional experimental paradigms. Further research areas, including consumer profiling and social consumer neuroscience, have not been sufficiently explored yet and would benefit from EEG techniques to address unanswered questions.
Negotiating skills are not part of the traditional lawyer’s training. Today, however, advanced skills are required of the lawyer to settle disputes consensually before trial. Cognitive, psycho-social and communication aspects should be trained in a purposed way. Cognitive knowledge and brain technology may be combined to develop targeted empowering programs during negotiation training. This article outlines the methodology for a pilot study that investigates the cooperative problem-solving skills development through neuroscientific devices that are non-invasive, portable and therefore usable in ecological contexts. The use of Brain-Computer-Interface would allow trained negotiators to explicitly develop mind tools and skills, with greater interaction between intuitive and analytical thinking systems.
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The authors thank Himanshu Mishra, Chris Tay-lor (parts of this research formed the basis of his honors thesis), and Mon-ica Wadhwa for their help in administering the experiments and coding participants' responses. They also thank Eric Johnson, participants of the Distinguished Scholars Retreat at the University of Alberta, and the three anonymous JMR reviewers for their comments and suggestions. We dedi-cate this article to the late Dick Wittink for his exceptional guidance and encouragement. May he rest in peace. Editor's note: In contrast to other lead articles that were invited by for-mer editor Dick Wittink, this article is based on a regular submission. The authors demonstrate that marketing actions, such as pricing, can alter the actual efficacy of products to which they are applied. These placebo effects stem from activation of expectancies about the efficacy of the product, a process that appears not to be conscious. In three experi-ments, the authors show that consumers who pay a discounted price for a product (e.g., an energy drink thought to increase mental acuity) may derive less actual benefit from consuming this product (e.g., they are able to solve fewer puzzles) than consumers who purchase and con-sume the exact same product but pay its regular price. The studies con-sistently support the role of expectancies in mediating this placebo effect. The authors conclude with a discussion of theoretical, managerial, and public policy implications of the findings.
As a company tries to find the factors accounting for strong and weak markets, typical consumer explanations for both tend to be in terms of the physical attributes of the product. Carling Brewing Company used a relatively inexpensive experiment to help dichotomize contributing influences as being either product or marketing oriented and, also, to indicate the magnitude of the marketing influence for various brands. The experiment involved the use of groups of beer drinkers that tasted (drank) and rated beer from nude bottles and from labeled bottles.
Two studies explored the extent to which prior affective expectations shape people's evaluations of experiences and decisions about repeating those experiences. Study 1 found that students' prior expectations about an upcoming vacation accounted for a significant portion of the variance in their post-vacation evaluations, as did students' recall of specific experiences. In Study 2, both prior expectations and actual experiences of watching a movie were manipulated in a 2 × 2 design. People's affective expectations made more of a difference than the objective experience when assessing people's willingness to participate in the study again. A reinterpretation hypothesis—that people discount or reweigh memories of expectation-inconsistent events—accounted for the results of these studies better than a selective memory or initial effects hypothesis.
Placebo effects are beneficial effects of treatment caused not by the biological action of the treatment but by one's response to the treatment process itself. One possible mechanism of placebo treatments is that they create positive expectations, which change one's appraisal of the situation and may thereby shape sensory and emotional processing. Recent brain-imaging evidence suggests that placebo-induced expectations of analgesia increase activity in the prefrontal cortex in anticipation of pain and decrease the brain's response to painful stimulation. These findings suggest that placebo treatments can alter experience, not just alter what participants are willing to report about pain. To the extent that they involve neural systems mediating expectancy and appraisal, placebo effects in pain may share common circuitry with placebo effects in depression, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders.
The authors integrate previous research that has investigated experimentally the influence of price, brand name, and/or store name on buyers' evaluations of prod¬uct quality. The meta-analysis suggests that, for consumer products, the relation¬ships between price and perceived quality and between brand name and perceived quality are positive and statistically significant. However, the positive effect of store name on perceived quality is small and not statistically significant. Further, the type of experimental design and the strength of the price manipulation are shown to significantly influence the observed effect of price on perceived quality.
The emerging discipline of neuroeconomics employs methods originally used in brain research for investigating economic problems, and furthers the advance of integrating neuroscientific findings into the economic sciences. Neuromarketing or consumer neuroscience is a sub-area of neuroeconomics that addresses marketing relevant problems with methods and insights from brain research. With the help of advanced techniques of neurology, which are applied in the field of consumer neuroscience, a more direct view into the “black box” of the organism should be feasible. Consumer neuroscience, still in its infancy, should not be seen as a challenge to traditional consumer research, but constitutes a complementing advancement for further investigation of specific decision-making behavior. The key contribution of this paper is to suggest a distinct definition of consumer neuroscience as the scientific proceeding, and neuromarketing as the application of these findings within the scope of managerial practice. Furthermore, we aim to develop a foundational understanding of the field, moving away from the derisory assumption that consumer neuroscience is about locating the “buy button” in the brain. Against this background the goal of this paper is to present specific results of selected studies from this emerging discipline, classified according to traditional marketing-mix instruments such as product, price, communication, and distribution policies, as well as brand research. The paper is completed by an overview of the most prominent brain structures relevant for consumer neuroscience, and a discussion of possible implications of these insights for economic theory and practice. Copyright
This paper reviews the literature on gender differences in economic experiments. In the three main sections, we identify robust differences in risk preferences, social (other-regarding) preferences, and competitive preferences. We also speculate on the source of these differences, as well as on their implications. Our hope is that this article will serve as a resource for those seeking to understand gender differences and to use as a starting point to illuminate the debate on gender-specific outcomes in the labor and goods markets.
In three experiments, gender and ability (performance and emotional intelligence) related differences in brain activity – assessed with EEG methodology – while respondents were solving a spatial rotation tasks and identifying emotions in faces were investigated. The most robust gender related difference in brain activity was observed in the lower-2 alpha band. Males and females displayed an inverse IQ-activation relationship in just that domain in which they usually perform better: females in the emotional intelligence domain, and males in the visuospatial ability domain. A similar pattern of brain activity could also be observed for the male/female respondents with different levels of performance and emotional IQ. It was suggested that high ability representatives of both genders to some extent compensate for their inferior problem solving skills (males in emotional tasks and females in spatial rotation tasks) by increasing their level of attention.
The pattern of neural correlates of feedback processing has been the subject of a number of studies, using both neuroimaging and electrophysiological recordings. A complex functional network was found to be activated after a choice in order to process a feedback and sustain an adaptive behavior. However, many aspects of this network are still unclear and further research is needed to better understand this process. We conducted an EEG study using a simple gambling task. Twenty three subjects participated to the study. We analyzed both EEG power spectrum and ERP components evoked by presentation of a feedback signal (money gain or loss) during a simple gambling task. Our data confirmed that a negative ERP component is present about 270 ms after feedback, particularly relevant following a choice with negative outcome. Furthermore, the theta and delta oscillatory activity seem to be correlated to a dynamic decision-making process within specific cortical networks. In particular, theta activity showed a valence dependent development between 150 and 350 ms post-feedback onset. Differently from previous studies (Cohen, Elger & Ranganath, 2007; Marco-Pallares, Cucurell, Cunillera et al., 2008), we did not find any valence effect in beta range. However, our data are consistent with Christie and Tata (2009), probably due to the nature of the gambling task used in both studies. In conclusion, our data, in line with some prior findings showed that the feedback related response is correlated to a complex pattern of cortical activation probably mediated by theta and delta activity.
When participants in a gambling game are given feedback as to whether they won or lost the previous bet, a series of stereotypical brain electrical responses can be observed in the electroencephalogram (EEG) and the stimulus-locked Event-Related Potential (ERP). These include the Feedback-Related Mediofrontal Negativity (FRN), a posterior P300, and a feedback-induced increase in power at the theta (4 to 8 Hz) band over frontal scalp. Although the generators of the FRN and P300 have been studied previously, little is known about the generator of feedback-induced theta. We employed a gambling game in which participants chose either high-risk/high-reward or low-risk/low-reward bets to investigate these feedback-related responses. The FRN was not modulated by the riskiness of the bet, but both P300 and feedback-induced theta were of greater amplitude following high- relative to low-risk bets. Using a bilateral multi-source Beamformer approach, we localized the induced theta-band responses following wins and losses to partially overlapping regions in the right medial frontal cortex, possibly including the Anterior Cingulate. Using a dipole-fitting approach, we found that the generators of feedback-induced theta are anatomically distinct from those of the FRN and P300.