Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shopper Insights Research is Good Research

One of the things that appeals to me about researching shopper behaviour or shopper insights is that it necessitates that researchers do things that we should probably do in most of our research.

There is so much discussion about how research into branding and communication is relying way too much on cognitively processed responses and is missing the subtle, low involvement processing and emotions that actually motivate behaviour.

And of course those who have relied on those cognitively processed responses for years (and have large and valuable normative databases of them) are saying they are still valid.

That debate doesn’t even get started with shopper research. We know the decisions are based on “thin slice judgments”. We know that much decision-making is not cognitively processed and often does not even reach our consciousness. We know that 80% of the media in store is not even seen let alone engaged with.

Once that has been accepted we can approach researching the subject based on observation, transactional data and methods that avoid cognitively processed and rationalized responses based on respondent recall. These are good things.

Researchers have avoided the mechanics of the consumer decision for years because it is well, hard. We will evaluate a brand or communication piece and then add the caveat that we don’t know how it will actually play in the market because of er….”market factors”. This has undermined the value of research. Shopper insights research forces us to face up to those “market factors” and really try to understand how the purchase decision is made. This is genuinely new territory and ultimately will increase the value of market research.

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