Why do consumers “really” think and act as they do?
We have long known that the deep seated emotional centers of the human mind generate the most powerful motivational forces driving consumer behavior. Traditional market research, however, has historically only accessed the conscious intellectual layers of the consumer mind. The desire to learn about the emotions that “really” control behavior are largely unfulfilled.
Two barriers confront the market researchers in this quest. First, consumers are often unaware consciously of these deep-seated emotional forces.
As St. Augustine wrote in the thirteenth century, “I cannot grasp all that I am.” His insight remains true of consumers today. Consumers today are no more able to grasp the motivations that arise from emotional centers of the brain that work below the level of consciousness than St. Augustine was; in the language of pop psychology, consumers are “out of touch” with their feelings on the issues important to marketers.
Second, consumers are often unwilling to share their emotions with market research professionals, even when they are able to consciously access and articulate their emotions. Rare is the respondent who is willing to share reasons for behavior that might make them seem frivolous or irrational.
So where does this leave market research in its quest for “real reasons” behind consumers’ behavior?
The news actually is good. The conscious mind is far from irrelevant – it remains an important driver of attitudes and behavior, and traditional market research continues to excel at researching the conscious mind. For the first time, neuropsychologists have documented the activity in those areas of the brain responsible for our emotions. Employing techniques from perceptual and cognitive science, clinical market researchers have begun to leverage the insights from neuropsychology to devise methods for “talking” to these emotional centers of the brain.
Our proprietary Forbes MindSight® technique is a good example of how the latest insights about the brain can help market researchers acquire the once elusive emotional reasons for behavior – to get new data about “real” reasons that they have never gotten before. Consumers may remain unaware of their emotions or unable to share their emotions with us, but technologies such as MindSight® are overcoming these barriers.
Why do people really think and act the way they do? We are revealing motivations that they themselves may not know. Results from MindSight® research suggest that surprises are in store – for marketers and market researchers, and even for consumers themselves!