Imagine you have been tasked with increasing revenue for an “honor system” coffee donation in your office. A collection box has been placed next to the shiny new caffeine machine and everyone is told to donate at least 50 cents whenever they help themselves, and more if they feel inclined. While this may seem impossible (who’s going to pay more if they don’t have to?!) there’s a tried and true way of ensuring consistent payment without hiring a barista: stick subtle eyespots (images of eyes, or eye shaped designs) on the machine. In an elegant study by Bateson et. al. 2006, this potentially silly-sounding method led people to donate three times more to the pot than their coworkers who were exposed to a coffee machine without the eyespots. This study fits into a growing body of research trying to unravel exactly what effects implicit cues have on behavior. An implicit cue is simply something we are not aware of which can then have an effect on behavior (the output). For instance, the eyespots in the above example were an implicit cue which made the subjects feel as though they were being watched, thereby altering their behavior, leading them to act in a more altruistic manner. When marketing research firms conduct focus groups, dozens of implicit cues (for example. the neighborhood the site is in, the furniture in the room, how the other participants are dressed, etc.) may affect people’s behavior and responses. While many of these can be controlled, research suggests that the “feeling of being watched” can have far-reaching effects that bias the results of the focus group.
Research Methods (2)
Why Personality Matters for Marketers
“The key traits that we strive to display [through consumerism] are the stable traits that differ most between individuals and that most strongly predict our social abilities and preferences...displaying such traits is the key ‘latent motive’ that marketers strive to comprehend,” TipTap advisor Geoffrey Miller, Spent, p.15.
The Confabulator: What it is and Why CMOs Should Care
According to CASRO, $8.6 billion are spent each year in the United States on consumer marketing research using online or phone-based surveys that rely on explicit reports (what people say they want). One of many challenges marketers face in this area is understanding what people are truly interested in, parsing through the noise of what people say they want and getting at the signal of what people actually want. Years of psychological research provide insight into why these explicit reports tap into only a small percentage of what goes into a consumer's decision-making process.