Playing with Market Research

One of the advantages of understanding how the process of asking people questions influences them is that you can have fun demonstrating its impact. I was recently invited to speak to a local business group and took the opportunity to demonstrate the frailty of asking questions and the nature of the unconscious mind. Whilst the samples were too small to be scientifically valid, the differences in responses to my fake research were both predictable and entertaining. I set up a taste test using three very similar products: one was from a value range, one from the ‘standard’ range and one the premium offer.  Everyone was led to believe that they were taking part in legitimate market research and that they all had the same questions. In fact there were five different questionnaires, all asking the participants to taste three products and answer some questions. What was I able to demonstrate? […]

Amazon Test New Website Design

It’s always interesting to see what ideas a web giant like Amazon is evaluating, particularly when the change is more than just a subtle adjustment. At present they’re trying out a very different home page. One thing Amazon does that is super-smart is split test.  They don’t rely on the vague irrelevancies of what customers tell them in market research to decide whether a change is worth making: they send customers to the new look at random and check to see what the impact is on behaviour (and particularly on conversion).  This means the evaluation isn’t done as an artificial conscious exercise, people don’t know they’re taking part in research: as a result the unconscious drivers of consumer actions are still ‘in-play’ and the artificial influence that comes from asking questions isn’t an issue. From this perspective it doesn’t really matter what I or anyone else thinks when they evaluate […]

Dell Finally Convert me to Apple

I honestly believed that I would stick with PC based computing.  After twenty years using PCs they’re more familiar than my wife and kids! Despite all the positive things friends have said about Macs, and even though I have owned an iPhone for the last couple of years, there were good reasons not to change.  PCs have always worked well for me and, on the occasions when I have used Macs, I’ve always found them uncomfortably unfamiliar. If nothing else, we humans are creatures of habit: it takes quite a shove to push us out of our comfort zone and into unchartered territory.  For me and PCs that shove was Dell. I enjoy observing my own consumer decision-making and, although I know that much of the action takes place outside of my conscious awareness, my work on the consumer unconscious mind gives me a dual perspective for my own consumer […]

Bad Market Research: Today I’m Completing a Survey

Every now and then I receive an invitation to complete an on-line survey.  They’re normally hopelessly poor tools at understanding real consumer motivations.  They interrogate the wrong part of the respondent’s mind (the conscious mind) and unwittingly influence the part they should be targeting (the unconscious mind). So today, I thought that, as I plod through the survey, I would include a running commentary of what’s bad, just in case anyone else is thinking of running an on-line survey any time soon.  The First Few Questions A few classification questions to see where I live, when I was born, to check that I watch television (the subject of the research) and to check that I’m not involved in marketing, market research, journalism, advertising, public relations or television: arguably I’m involved in all of these but, just like any other respondent, I’ll be ticking the answers that suit my purpose: “None of these”. Questions […]