Reflections On The Neuromarketing World Forum 2017

Read our latest blog from our neuroscience consultancy, Walnut Unlimted about the innovative Neuromarketing World Forum event which took place in March 2017

As if there was any doubt, the 2017 Neuromarketing World Forum #NMWF, hosted by the NMBSA confirmed that consumer neuroscience (or if you prefer, neuromarketing) is no passing fad, but a valuable part of the insight body, and if the likes of speakers from Hershey, Coca-Cola and Facebook are anything to go by, consumer neuroscience is becoming well established as an essential tool for insight and marketing.

Neuromarketing World Forum 2017



Hosted in our fair city of London we enjoyed two days of neuroscience interspersed with networking, a trip up Tower Bridge and even a bus tour of London!  One of the great things about the NMWF is although it has a great mix of clients and vendors and that it has interesting and exciting topics, not only is everyone passionate about what they do, the event still retains a scientific edge where people are free to ‘geek out’ on the latest and greatest topics in the field and there is a genuine enthusiasm for openness and collaboration, so rarely seen at market research conferences.  Something that is, at least in part, key to fostering the successful climate and attitude that we see ourselves as an industry currently in.

It is interesting to look back to previous NMWF conferences. It was only a couple of years ago that Cristina de Balanzo, Walnut’s “Main Nut” noted the progression that had been made, from beyond theory and nice academic talks to actionable insights from clients – we see that only a couple of years on we do not need to talk about neuroscience in this way and are now advocating the success of combining techniques – truly we are becoming mainstream!



This year’s theme was ‘Connecting the Dots’, a long term criticism of the field is that neuroscience was too far removed from what clients actually did, too difficult to understand, that it was interesting at best, unusable at worst.  However, as Cristina de Balanzo explained in our opening talk the ‘New Neuro is Integrated Neuro’ as a field we have acknowledged this fault and found that neuroscience is most powerful when integrated with existing market research techniques, from qualitative research and EEG to analytics and implicit testing.

Neuromarketing World Forum 2017

Unless I am mistaken there was not one of the talks over the two days which did not offer a combination of unconscious measurement with a more traditional technique – neuroscience offers another piece of the puzzle that ultimately is there to understand human decision making.



So what were the other highlights of the two days?

  • Steve Keller blending art and science, using sound to change the perception of taste
  • THE Hilke Plassmann, reinforced to us that consumer neuroscience is REAL science, demonstrating the consumers placebo effect of rating cheap wine highly because they believe it to be expensive is an effect so strong that it causes a neurological change!
  • Rafal Ohme’s live implicit test (with accompanying Depeche Mode sound track) was a sight to behold – and showed some great evidence through implicit testing that ill thought out branding strategies can positively impact your competitor
  • Roeland Dietvorst treated us to a great piece of insight in how social media buzz can be predicted by EEG
  • Javier Minguez gave us a masterclass biometric application – showing how added insights can be gained by bringing together biometric and traditional measures together to test in-store design layouts
  • Carl Marci showed some great work linking the effectiveness of a variety of neuroscientific tools to actual sales data
  • Rory Sutherland’s amazing behavioural economics closing talk, encouraging us all to take a course in basic economics to understand how wrong it is was true to form, entertaining and insightful in equal measure and only over ran over by a mere 20 or so minutes

Confirming what we have seen in the market, consumer neuroscience is becoming more attractive to brands as a means to better understand people’s decision making not only because techniques such as implicit testing have made neuroscience far more scalable, but that it is able to understand this behaviour at a level that was previously hidden, making the field essential and confirming it is here to stay.

Andy Myers is the ‘Ginger Nut’ at Walnut Unlimited and a board director of Marketing Sciences Unlimited

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Andy Myers
01962 842211
Article date - 13/04/2017
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