Consumer Neuroscience

“95% of decision making is below conscious awareness”

Daniel Kahneman, PhD, 2002 Nobel-prize winner behavioural economics


Mindspeller offers Software-as-a-Service to help you evaluate content based on consumer neuroscience and using natural language processing techniques to retrieve, group and predict content associations and their emotional affect in semantic contexts. We use graph-based artificial intelligence techniques to develop marketing decision support applications.

Branding or creating a ‘brand image’ is about attaching meaning (semantics) to recognisable marketing stimuli or ‘assets’. If your product is nearly identical to the competition’s, meaning can be created for your customer by framing or associating your product with original intended associations that resonate with your target audience on the ‘implicit’ (subconscious) level. How to find such associations more objectively and how to apply them to increase your brand equity are research topics investigated within the field of consumer neuroscience (aka ‘neuromarketing’).


Consumer Neuroscience (also known as ‘Neuromarketing’) is a relatively young domain within the field of marketing research. Spurred by insights in behavioural psychology, marketing consultants have been looking for theories to decode the inner workings of a consumer’s ‘buying button’, the core Neuromarketing quest.

Traditional neuromarketing is expensive and requires medical-grade equipment & expertise to interpret reliably. More recent neuromarketing approaches use Implicit Association Tests (IAT), forcing a choice amongst predefined intended associations (causing bias). Mindspeller technology does not force you to choose them a priori. Once your brand asset is positioned in our network, we quantify the semantic association strength to all concepts in the natural language.

Why consumer neuroscience?

At Mindspeller, we believe in the importance of brand associations. Several techniques have been proposed to collect brand associations (Low and Lamb, 2000; Sena and Petromilli, 2005; Revella, 2015; Brunnthaller, 2015). Traditionally, marketers resort to questionnaires (administered during on-line surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews) to collect brand attribute ratings, positive/negative associations, uniqueness of associations, agreement with desired associations, etc. (Park and Srinivasan, 1994; Low and Lamb, 2000; Belén et al., 2001; Gladden and Funk, 2002; O’Cass and Frost, 2002; Spears et al., 2006; Malär et al., 2012; Grohs et al., 2016). There are several brand equity studies where the consumer’s perception of a brand was gauged in terms of awareness associations using a traditional survey. These papers describe brands as clusters of associations organized in a semantic network (also termed ‘association network’) with nodes representing brands and products, and attributes linked to other nodes (e.g. in Fig. 1, left panel, the node ‘Nike’ is linked to the node ‘athletic shoes’). After identifying the semantic network, he was able to calculate the value of a brand and examine differences between competing mature and new brands. Although the results were encouraging, the proposed approach still fails to address the marketer’s main challenge: aligning the company’s desired portrayal of the brand (brand identity) with what is actually perceived by the customer (brand image) (Srivastava and Thomas, 2010). This is due to the limited scope in traditional semantic networks, which represents brands and their associations only, restricting brand comparison to those that share associations. Moreover, its links are non-directional and have no association strength, even though directionality and association strength are considered important aspects of a semantic network (Anderson, 1983a).

That said, sound symbolism (the automatic linguistic process by which the individual sounds of a word – phonemes – provide cues as to its meaning) may play an important role in how speakers infer meaning from fictitious or unfamiliar brand names, which affects how they perceive those brands’ attributes (Yorkston and Menon, 2004).  For example, Yorkston and Menon (2004) show that the participants in their study tended to associate Frosh with creamier, smoother ice cream in detriment of Frish, despite them both being fictitious brand names (which conformed to the authors’ hypothesis – based on empirical evidence in the literature – that the back vowel in Frosh conveys ‘heaviness’, whereas the front vowel in Frish does not). However, the authors also warn that alternate information made available at the time at which brand names are encountered may undercut these phonetic effects.

In computational linguistics, it is commonly accepted that the relationships between semantic entities (words, images, sounds…) are a crucial feature of the organization of our semantic memory. A popular model underpinning many semantic priming experiments is the spreading activation model (Vigliocco et al., 2004; Collins and Loftus, 1975; Anderson, 1983b), whereby the activation caused by a semantic entity (“prime”) spreads through the network pre-activating related entities (Fig. 2, left). If one uses a network model to describe semantic memory, the following question arises: how can the nature of the relationship between the semantic entities, as well as the different kinds of relationships, contribute to the priming effect? To answer that question, one needs to be able to retrieve these semantic relationships.


As spin-out from Europe's most innovative university, KU Leuven, Mindspeller has developed the world's largest semantic network, validated by a peer reviewed, medical grade EEG based Brain-Computer-Interfacing protocol. Our neurometric - the Mindspeller Association Score (or 'MAS') - represents a proxy to the subconscious association strength between any two semantically related concepts in the network. Read here how Mindspeller's founder, Professor Dr. Ir. Marc Van Hulle obtained international acclaim helping patients with locked-in syndrome communicate via the Mindspeller Brain-Computer-Interface.

Through a user-friendly AI solution we offer marketing executives around the world access to the world's largest implicit brand association database or 'map of the collective subconscious'. We offer inspiration and validation, factoring in real subconscious biases, in order to augment intuition and benchmark brand stories and related campaign assets based on latest consumer neuroscience.

Our SaaS platform provides decision support and actionable insights before rolling out your next marketing campaign. Quickly measure your concept brand assets before, during and after your campaign to get peace of mind through the knowledge that your brand is emotionally connecting with your target audience.

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