Consumers Don’t Mean To Lie. They Just Do It.

By quoting a famous ad man it’s easy to show Straylight’s belief regarding consumer behavior.

The trouble with market research is that consumers don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say”. – David Ogilvy

For you familiar with our articles, this isn’t anything new but since we know that repetition is one of the keys remembering it doesn’t hurt to write it again.

Speaking of memories. Since memories that aren’t accessible to awareness can influence our actions, associations can also influence our attitudes and behavior.

Understanding the human mind and the role it plays using the subconscious brain in determining our behavior is one of the biggest contributions that neuroscience has made. Even if it seem as we’re conscious of everything that happens around us and in control of our decisions, we’re not.
Once a behavior has become established, it becomes a habit. It’s automated and controlled by subconscious processes. This is highly efficient because it leaves the conscious brain free to concentrate only on what is immediately important. That’s why we are able, for example, to drive home from work and in the same time talking on the phone. (Bad example since this isn’t really legal in Sweden any longer but anyhow..)

Research has shown that 80% of the time we buy the same brands. We cook the same meals and like to wear the same variety of clothes from our closet. Many of our everyday behaviors are habitual. But as anyone who has learned to ride a bike can tell you, once a behavior has been learned and committed to the subconscious, it is extremely difficult for the conscious brain to recall how that behavior came about. Making it difficult to teach others by applying rational principles.

The same principles apply when we learn about and understand brands, products and services.  Once we have experienced them several times, and they are committed to the subconscious, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to recall the reasons why we like that particular brand, what the perceived benefits were that led to our choice and all the attributes we implicitly associate with it that lie stored deep within the subconscious mind.

The subconscious doesn’t just store information about things that are extremely familiar to us, it also uses this information about past experiences to shape and determine implicit preferences and biases about new information.  We now know that effective advertising communicates to consumers on a deep, emotional level and that successful messages resonate with these subconscious needs and desires.

But what happens when you need to understand how your consumers feel about the brands they buy and the advertisements they are exposed to or their intuitions about how a new product might fare in the marketplace?  If consumers themselves don’t always know how they feel or what they will do when it comes to purchasing, explicit market research methods such as surveys, questionnaires and focus groups won’t help uncover these hidden, unspoken emotions.

Using an Implicit Association Test (IAT) allows us to understand attitudes that cannot be measured through explicit self-report methods due to lack of awareness or different social-desirability bias, which is a term within social science research describes the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others.

Straylight has an extensive experience from EEG, Eye-Tracking and recently launched our Implicit Association Test. If you want to know more about the method, don’t hesitate to contact us!