The Biggest Pitfall To Avoid When Researching Consumer Motivation

The Biggest Pitfall To Avoid When Researching Consumer Motivation

Identifying the “Why” in Consumer Choices

Last month David Forbes published an insightful article on Greenbook titled “All Emotions Are Not Created Equal.” Forbes made the argument that market researchers should focus their study of the emotional effect on consumer behavior on the emotional force of “motivation”. If motivation is the key emotional element, how do you measure it? Is it as simple as asking consumers what motivates them? Today we’ll look at one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to understand consumer motivation.

So what exactly is this big pitfall? Jeff Ewald jumps on one of his many soapboxes in this edition of the MRX Minute.

Rational Person, Rational Question, Rational Answer

As Jeff Ewald mentioned in this edition of the MRX Minute, if you ask a rational person a rational question, you’ll get a rational answer. Not only is it hard for consumers to express the true motivation behind their decisions but it’s virtually impossible to get an accurate insight if you ask them a rational question.

To accurately understand the motivation behind consumer decisions you must analyze their actions in real-life purchase scenarios.

In research, this type of analysis is done through a method called conjoint analysis. In short, conjoint analysis asks people to make trade-offs just like they do in their daily lives. In a typical conjoint analysis study, participants are presented a series of elements as one, singular offer/statement and are asked to react or make a choice. After strategically varying the elements presented in each offer over time, you can then figure out what elements are driving peoples’ decisions by observing their choices.

As you look to better understand the motivation behind consumer decisions, make sure you avoid the mistake of asking a rational person a rational question… because it leads to a rational answer. As we’ve learned over time, rational answers to rational questions don’t dive deep enough to understand the true motivation of consumers.

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