Customer Satisfaction: Why It’s not Worth Asking

In my recent (very short) consumer behaviour video I made a reference to how unhelpful it can be to ask someone how satisfied they are with their consumer experience.  My point was that, given you don’t know what frame of reference someone has in mind when they respond, it’s really not that useful to know. Are they satisfied because their expectations are so low that, when nothing terrible happens, they’re grateful? Are they satisfied because what’s on offer is so formulaic that all they could do is be very dissatisfied if the delivery was below the standard? Are they satisfied because they have such little interest in whatever it is that “yes” is all they can think to say; they’ve forgotten what happened and assume, because it wasn’t memorably bad, that it must have been OK at the time? It turns out a recent study has found that people’s ratings […]

Why it Matters That You’re Thoughtless

With so much consumer behaviour, not to mention human behaviour, happening at an unconscious level, it’s all too easy for something that you say or do to not register in your own consciously accessible memory as significant. One friend of mine was asked in a survey what brands of lager he purchased.  He wasn’t a big drinker, but would probably make a lager purchase (always of the same brand) every month or two.  But faced with an interviewer’s question, and without the unconsciously filtered visual prompts of the packaging he couldn’t recall the brand he’d bought all these years (a little-known brand called Budweiser!).  How do I know the visual prompts were unconsciously filtered? Because faced with a bottle, even with a large proportion concealed he would recognise it and name it every time.  But he couldn’t describe the bottle’s design, because if he could summon up a similar small […]

Stupid Consumers

A couple of conversations recently have highlighted just how stupid consumers often are. Case in point, me. I like to think I’m reasonably capable, astute, switched on, together. But that’s just what I like to think. You see, I’ve been following this blog on investment (  To begin with I felt sort of obliged to stick with it, I’d said to someone that I would look at it.  But it was a bit annoying. The investment adviser there (Rod) seemed determined to spell out assumptions people have about investing with the implicit message that they didn’t stack up.  Rod did say he would tell us why, but my resistance was, if anything, increasing as the days went on. You see I know about investing.  Well, when I say “I know” that’s not totally accurate.  It would be more accurate to say that I have invested money in my time, like […]

What Consumer Behaviour Reveals about Sexism

When it comes to observing consumer behaviour, or any aspect of human behaviour, there is an important tip you would do well to keep in mind.  The process of observation needs to be as detached and objective as possible. It’s also worth remembering that you will learn the most when your presence as an observer isn’t something the people you’re observing are aware of: “I’ve just come here to watch, you carry on as normal” is not going to work.  You’ve just raised the question of what “normal” is and virtually guaranteed that someone is going to be consciously aware of their own actions. Yesterday I had a fascinating insight into sexist behaviour.  You know the sort of thing, putting women down, not treating them as equals, pushing people into gender stereotypes.  It can get you a little cross can’t it. Who was guilty of this?  Would you be surprised […]