As marketers, we are exceedingly interested in identifying exactly which consumers are our core customers. Right now, we can do this with a reasonable sophistication. We work in a fairly actuarial environment – if “these kinds of people” tend to buy our product, we find “these kinds of people” with profiles of population clusters.
But, imagine if we could read someone’s mind with a simple laser beam shot toward their forehead…unbeknownst to them? Sounds like the Holy Grail of marketing, right? Ideal solution for all of our obstacles.
With fMRI technology, that scenario becomes “this exact person loves my product” and “this exact person does not.” The first is worthy of our marketing dollars, the second is not – no more waste. Marketing Shangri-La!
Not so fast, my friend. Let’s also consider the other side of the fence that corrals this green, green grass. Our thoughts will no longer be our own. We’ve built civilized society largely on what we choose NOT to say. What would this world be if we knew what everyone truly thought? I’m wholly grateful for the bliss my lovely companion ignorance provides me.
Of course, we are a nation of fierce protectors of privacy, as evidenced by our lack of progress with adequately opening up mobile devices as a ubiquitous marketing channel. So, despite the 3-5 year projection Doctors Just and Mitchell forecast in the 60 Minutes segment, I think the regulatory issues will bog this technology down for a tremendous length of time…much like cloning, stem cell research and federal aid to New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina.