29 January 2010

Why market research questions don’t do what we think they do

Why market research questions don’t do what we think they do: "

I had a great time on Wednesday attending the NetGain4 Conference in Toronto and was honoured to be one of the keynote speakers. One of the points I was making that many of the questions that market researchers have been using for years have turned out to be very flawed. To borrow and mangle a phrase from Mark Earls, we are very poor witnesses to our own beliefs and intentions.

I think one of the key memes for the next couple of years is going to be triangulation, i.e. can we find alternative sources that all point to the same conclusion. In terms of the concern about many types of market research questions then I recommend the following four books:

Herd, by Mark Earls.

Buyology, by Martin Lindstrom.

How We Decide, by Jonah Leherer.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely.

I do acknowledge that many market researchers have reservations about Lindstrom’s methodology and conclusions, however I think he is important to include as part of the triangulation. The books above draw upon behavioural economics, neuroscience, anthropology, psychology and more. The net conclusion is that people are very bad at saying what they personally would do in hypothetical situations, very bad at saying why they do things, and their choices are often changed by the questions we ask them.

Note all of the links are to Amazon, other book stores are also available.