5 Neuro Techniques for Market Research

Probably due to our desire to understand consumers and people in general, many market researchers have roots in psychology. Techniques that were once only available to psychology labs are now being utilized to understand the consumer experience and give researchers results that can lead to powerful insights. Below are some techniques that Murphy Research has utilized to help our clients answer some challenging business questions.

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Perhaps the most daunting of implicit methodologies are the neuro-measures. Analyzing brain activity is a time-consuming and often requires extensive training but the investment can be well worth it. fMRI, EEG, ERP, SST are just a few of the acronyms that describe the brain activity metrics that can be used to understand consumers.


While eye tracking has been around for quite some time it is less widely used in the field of market research. Technological advances have made it easier to harness this technology to utilize for consumer research. Eye tracking can pinpoint exactly what someone is looking at and for how long. This data can be used to create heat maps or even help us understand a person's' gaze pattern. This information can help understand how consumers interact with displays, products, or packaging in-aisle and pinpoint what stands out to consumers and what is glossed over. This technology is available in wearable (yet goofy looking) glasses so researchers can gather this information in the real world setting.

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With fitness tracker popularity at an all-time high, it is probably no surprise that heart rate technology has allowed researchers to utilize heart rate data across a variety of applications, including market research. Heart rate is typically paired with other metric to contextualize results but broadly speaking, heart rate can be used to determine metrics such as arousal and focus.

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Sweat can help you understand consumers. Yes, you read that right, sweaty palms will contribute to insights! Galvanic skin response (GSR) is a metric that can be used to understand emotional arousal and engagement. GSR is not a quick response (like EEG is) but is generally better applied to studies where you want to test ongoing exposures, such as video testing or interacting with a retail environment or display.

Implicit Associations

A more accessible methodology, that can be worked into online surveys, is implicit associations. Implicit associations help us understand underlying beliefs and attitudes about brands, categories and products. There are a handful of ways to get at implicate associations but some of the more common ones are Implicit Association Tasks (IATs) and Implicit Response Tasks:

  • IATs: Tests 4 categories (two of which are usually ‘positive' and ‘negative') and two that are concept related. In market research, we can use this to understand underlying associations between brands at a high level. Test a few out here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
  • IRTS: Tests multiple categories/brands paired with descriptors to gather a deeper understanding of implicit and explicit associations that a consumer may not be able to verbalize.

At Murphy Research, we are always looking for the best methodologies to answer our client's objectives and have found that sometimes the best way isn't always the traditional approach.