Why Behavioral Science Is Critical to Market Research

Sep 13, 2018

What if we could identify consumers’ underlying emotions or motivations to improve our understanding of whether they were actually going to purchase a product? Over the past few years, market researchers have been digging into the “why” behind behaviors to get even deeper, below the surface of the insights. The goal is to help brands better understand the true drivers of consumer behavior—and it all starts with behavior science.

What Is Behavioral Science?

Behavioral science isn’t a new industry, but within the past few years it’s something of an emerging topic in market research. At its core, behavioral science and the research that results from it, seeks to understand the many aspects related to someone’s habits or decision-making. Most importantly, as we noted, it helps to understand why people make certain decisions.

If you think of that in the context of our marketing and product strategies, it’s clear why behavioral science plays a role in market research. There are a variety of methods that can get close to truly understanding consumer behavior, but much of them can fail to capture empirical evidence—sensory information captured through observations and the documentation of behaviors through experimentation.

As a result, the importance and rise of behavioral science in market research is no small subject. Just in the past year, there have already been numerous events discussing behavioral science specific to gathering and analyzing data to understand why consumers make decisions—but market researchers, by and large, are still figuring out how to leverage it.

Leveraging Behavioral Data

At GutCheck, we think big data can be used as a possible solution for at least two reasons. First, it gives us access to more data than ever before, including data based on actual behavior from purchasing, web analytics, subscriptions, and more. As a result, big data can reduce the struggles we sometimes have with differences between stated versus observed behavior.

Second, there are big data sources that allow us to understand motivations of our consumers by examining the big 5 personality traits for millions and millions of people. By understanding different personalities, we can begin to realize if being “extroverted” or “conscientious” drives consumers’ purchasing. Some suggest that behavioral science and the resulting data on motivations behind decision-making will be the new normal for market research. We agree that understanding what people don’t tell us in surveys is as important as what they do. Together, these two types of data give us a more well-rounded picture of consumer behavior, and with the right methodology, you can gain this knowledge quickly.

In a specific use case, we had a client who was looking to understand their target audience for a new product innovation. They had hypotheses about what this audience would look like, and likely could have gained that knowledge through standard quantitative research. However, by incorporating our approach that combines survey data and big data, they were able to understand who their audience should be, including what would motivate them to purchase this particular new product. 

To learn more about how we incorporated behavioral data into this specific client’s research, download the report below. You’ll learn how they layered behavioral insights with the big 5 personality traits to better target and message to their audience.

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