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Learn More About Customer Preferences by Tracking Behavior

Candy JarUnderstanding consumer choices leads to smarter marketing and a larger ROI.

“ Do what I do, not what I say!”

The New Coke. Pizza Hut Low- Calorie Pizza. Earring Magic Ken. What do all of these have in common? They are products that consumers said they wanted, but when the products were introduced, they flopped.

This is why Philip Graves, consumer behavioral consultant and author of Consumer.ology, contends that smart marketers ignore what their customers tell them. This doesn’t mean they ignore their customers. It means they pay less attention to what their customers say and more attention to what they do.

“Consumer behavior is impacted by a wide variety of unconscious influences,” Graves said in a recent Webinar. “Consumers often have no understanding of their own behavior.” For example, research shows that when wine stores played classical music rather than pop, consumers spent three times as much when shopping for a bottle of wine. When researchers switched labels to show the wine as being made in a more desirable region, consumers rated that wine more highly.

In fact, brain scans indicated that participants genuinely experienced more pleasure when drinking the wine, even though the wine itself was the same! This has important implications. It means that, as a marketer, you should be using metrics on each and every piece of print marketing. You should be regularly changing up the elements to see how customers react.

Think of yourself as a mad scientist in your own experimental print laboratory. What will customers do if you use this image instead of that one? Does it make a difference if you use this word instead of that? What if you offer a different incentive? Use different timing? Monitor the responses and see what happens.

This is how Google found out that its customers prefer smaller, faster maps over the larger ones. Its market research indicated that consumers wanted the maps to be larger, but when it followed the research and enlarged the maps, map traffic actually dropped.

When Google changed its maps to smaller, faster versions, map traffic increased by 23%! This is the power of monitoring what customers do, not what they say.

When analyzing the data, look at each segment individually. Different segments of your customer base will react differently. Customers overall may prefer one image, one offer, one message, but the specific segments within that audience may prefer something else.