Prof. Smidts and Dr Boksem use neuroscience methods such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to better understand and predict consumer behaviour. With their research, they answer questions such as: can we measure emotions in the brain, can we measure a brand’s image in the brain, and can these brain measurements better predict purchasing behaviour? The answers to these questions are highly relevant for practice, since it has proven quite difficult to measure implicit processes such as emotions with traditional methods, while at the same time they have a substantial impact on consumer behaviour.
Pioneering and expanding the field
Ale Smidts was an international pioneer in neuromarketing in 2002 with his inaugural address 'Looking into the brain: About the possibilities of neuromarketing'. He subsequently built up a research group to develop the field of neuromarketing, since 2011 together with Maarten Boksem. It is the first time in the history of the MOA Awards that a duo has been nominated, recognizing the collaborative effort of building up a multidisciplinary team of scientist that has expanded the field of neuromarketing over the past 10 years. As a team, they have trained several PhD students and have co-authored multiple high-impact academic papers, both in the field of marketing as well as in neuroscience. One of these papers won the ERIM Top Article Award 2019, with researcher Dr Hang-Yee Chan (then a PhD candidate): Neural Profiling of Brands: Mapping Brand Image in Consumers’ Brains with Visual Templates. Journal of Marketing Research, 55(4), 600-615.
Over the past 5 years, Smidts and Boksem have worked with the neuromarketing company Alpha.One on projects and knowledge sharing to build an important bridge between practice and science. They have several joint publications in leading journals and the methods developed by the team led by Boksem and Smidts are actively used in neuromarketing practice by Alpha.One.
Effective transfer of knowledge to managers
The jury of the MOA award remarked: “This team shows that collaboration in an interdisciplinary field is crucial, they demonstrate the added value of neuroscientific methods and insights for marketing and market research, they apply the latest imaging techniques and statistical methods in their research and transfer their knowledge effectively to future marketing managers through education and direct interaction with practice.
RSM’s Professor of marketing, Stefano Puntoni commented: “It’s great to see our work having an impact on practice.”
Judges scored the nominated candidates on their work’s scientific quality and the strength of its links to practice. The were looking for innovations, quality data, important implications and clearly written work with a clear link to MOA’s theme. Smidt and Boksem’s research stood out for the innovativeness of new research methods which can lead to better business insights.