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March 30, 2015
A New Index for Tracking Decision-Making?
 
Marketing and advertising strategists continue to try to find accurate models to track consumer data in order to efficiently predict and influence consumer behavior. As much as they try, the strategists fail to create a simple model with clear forecasts.

But a new group thinks they're close.

A group out of MIT wrote a paper, appearing in Marketing Science, that suggests an index approach to categorizing product choice is not only a better route than the previous models, but is also a closer fit to what goes on within the consumer brain.

We won't go into detail about the other models, but we do admit that the other models do put a lot of emphasis on the computing mind of the consumer, saying that regardless of the complexity of the decision, the consumer is computing the costs and benefits, the alternatives and substitutes, of every given product.

Of course, that's not the case.

But is the index that much better? Even the writers are inconclusive. The article shares that the index, though not more accurate, got to the results at a faster rate than the models. That's a win, right? Sure. If we are looking to quicken the way to imperfect results, we guess the index is the way to go.

Overall, we do like the idea of an index. We, too, agree that it is incredibly tough for consumers to compare different products from different categories on a single plane. So an index solves that problem. Yet, we've got much more to do.

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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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