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When Predicting Behavior, Marketers Get In Their Own Way
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Many marketing professionals are drawn to the industry due to the opportunity to learn and test ideas about how consumers think, and why they think the way they do about goods and services. We like to think that we have a good grasp on what consumers like, how they want to receive their products.

If we don't know, then we implement methods that should enlighten us.

We engage in "idea incubators" and brainstorming sessions and other internally driven ways before we bring in consumers. Understandably so, since the latest behavioral research suggests that many consumers aren't too sure about what they want anyway.

How interesting is it, then, when another research study recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests that when some marketers pretend to be consumers in order to see what the consumer wants, many of them actually rely on their own thoughts and ideas, even to the point of contradicting the opinions of consumers based on research they actually did?

Yes, the study showed that some marketing managers would cease relying on consumer data and rely on their own.

Makes you think — based on some of the commercials we've seen out there, that kind of makes sense.

What does this mean, then? It seems that all this research about the marketer and the consumer shows that we can't trust the consumer, or the marketer. A confusing situation, for sure.

Well, not quite.

The underlining factor is that our approach to market research and idea generation and screening should at all times be balanced. Will agencies and brands cut corners in order to save on research costs? Unfortunately so, but market research advocates need to speak up and show how investment upfront is much more efficient than paying up down the road when the poor research process catches up.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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