In general, the use of data has helped marketing relevance for both marketers and consumers in the last few years. But if you’re trying to create change in the marketplace, you can’t be lulled into thinking you have what you need to develop successful strategies. Because whether it’s survey data or purchase data, it’s far from perfect.
Data tells us a lot about the “what,” but little to nothing about the “why.” It doesn’t provide any insight into how to get someone to switch brands. Or increase purchase frequency. Or provide any nuance that can help strengthen messaging. And we can’t rely on historic data to predict future behaviors.
As marketers, we need to understand more about the “whys” of customer behavior in order to get meaningful insights to make key strategic business decisions. But the reality is that direct questions, like those on most surveys, rarely beget insightful answers. When it comes down to it, people tend to make decisions based on emotional reasons, and a lot of our emotional thinking happens in our subconscious. When asked directly, oftentimes, the responses are either directly or subconsciously misleading because respondents:
- Want to look good or appear smart.
- Want to be seen as politically correct.
- Want to be helpful or please the interviewer.
- Want to avoid jeopardizing personal or professional relationships.
50% of people provide misleading responses to direct research questions.
Because of this, consumers may say one thing and do something else entirely. And despite all the information we have, it can leave marketers in a lurch. It’s critical that we find ways to glean real, meaningful insights that can lead to better strategies to succeed in today’s new normal.