Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How Customers Think

We are constantly uncovering new insights into the way the mind works which can be used to better understand the consumer. I highly recommend How Customers Think by Gerald Zaltman, an extremely insightful and practical book that is written by an academic but in non-academic speak. For those who do not have time to read the entire book, I have summarized my most important takeaways from the book.

-It is estimated that over 95% of thought is unconscious.
-Understanding the nature of customer wants and relating them to innovations enables managers to tailor communications accordingly and provide specific products to meet their wants.
-Explicit survey questions often contradicts what consumers actually feel, intend to do, and actually do.
-Consumers are poor at predicting their future behavior because they can not predict the context in which the choice will be made.
-Testing for response latency, how long it takes to respond, can detect “noise” in consumer's thoughts and feelings.
-Subjects of one study who unscrambled elderly words walked significantly slower than those who unscrambled neutral words.
-Implicit measures may predict future behavior better than self-reported measures.
-Mangers can make mistakes if they assume specific thoughts are associated with specific behavior.
-Managers tend to focus on consumers differences rather than similarities.
-Companies should define customer segmentation based on similarities in their thinking and reasoning processes rather than on demographics.
-We store memories in pieces throughout the brain and reassemble them during the retrieval process.
-During reassembly, memories can be altered by cues, context, self-identity, and mood.
-After subjects viewed an ad suggesting all kids at Disneyland would have the opportunity to shake hands with Bugs Bunny, 16 percent remembered meeting Bugs during a childhood visit.
-Consumers in a happy mood tend to evaluate more positively and remember more positive memories than negative ones.
-The mood evoked by content surrounding the ad can affect the perception of the brand advertised.
-About 80% of market research is designed to reinforce an existing belief rather than uncover new insights.
-Brands can inspire consumers to create stories about who they are and who they want to become.
-People remember more easily when it has some connection to what they already know.
-A senior VP at Hallmark requires research summaries to include the single most important question left unanswered.
-In depth personal discussions such as metaphor elicitation interviews produce more surprises and nuanced responses.
-Attitudes and perceptions that come up in diverse contexts are likely to be highly relevant to consumers and deeply embedded in their thinking.
-There is nothing more subjective than a number, for example people who said they definitely will buy, gave probabilities between 50-100 percent.
-Question assumptions.
-The officers of the Titanic failed to question the conventional practice of maintaining standard speed at night with a sharp lookout to watch for trouble. They believed their existing practices were so sound that they didn’t merit re-examiniation.

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