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Consumers' Knowledge and Desirability Gaps
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As we've continued to learn more about how people operate, we determined that gaps of information exist between parties that, in other cases, should be on the same plane.

The gap between businesses and consumers, though not generically quantifiable, can be displayed when we ask about certain topics.

Dr. Dan Ariely, one of our favorite behavioral economists, highlighted this point in one of his more recent TED talks.

We won't go into detail about his talk —we encourage you to find it and watch it yourself — but he and his team ventured to find out how people looked at a certain problem and how they thought they should level the playing field. Then his team looked at how the situation really is; what's really going on.

We can apply this in an advertising version quite easily. Many people have their doubts about truth in advertising, and many people have their individual solutions about what should be sold to who, how often ads should be carried out, and even what companies do the most advertising.

If we conducted such an experiment, we believe the following would be shown:
  • A knowledge gap would exist between what is actually happening and what consumers think. People think that brands lie more than they actually do, and that they are less "manipulated" than they actually are.
  • A desirability gap would exist between how often brands actually advertise versus how often consumers want brands to advertise. Some brands will fall into the "ideal" time, but we think there will be a substantial difference.
With these assumptions in place, what can AdLand do to close these gaps? Would consumers actually respond to information about how the advertising world actually carries on? Hard to say. Another interesting question would be, if we had to choose which gap to close first, which one would it be? Does AdLand want people to be more accepting of advertising or more informed about the industry?

One thing is for sure — an education piece needs to be created that is public-facing. If consumers want information, we might as well provide it.

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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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