There’s a memorable scene in the second season of Mad Men, where Don Draper admits, “No one knows why people do what they do.” Among other ironies, this comes from a man who seems to have an intuitive understanding of exactly why people do what they do.
That’s not much different that advertising now. We have a lot of ways to conduct focus groups, conduct surveys, analyze purchase history and mountains of demographic and lifestyle information.
“Never before has there been such a large pool of data from which one can draw the wrong conclusions.”
At some point the statistics and data feel like a very raw material — that can be molded and shaped according to the biases of the person leading the process. Even the best researcher to misinterpret all this information — a sea of data in which it is easy to drown. As Dave Pell said, “Never before has there been such a large pool of data from which one can draw the wrong conclusions.”
Real data should provide the creative process with a launch pad, not a filter. It should inspire action, not another powerpoint deck. It should be a life preserver in that sea of Big Data. It should help identify people — humans, not ‘targets’ or ‘prospects.’
What would happen if we not only had insight into how people behaved last year, last quarter and last week, but how people very well might behave next week or next year? It’s 2013. Shouldn’t we be able to do that?
Sure, you can learn a lot from traditional research, but nothing seems to transcend the fact that people themselves don’t know why they make decisions — and therefore cannot tell you why. No matter how much free pizza or bowls of m&m’s you bribe them with.
People themselves don’t know why they make decisions — and therefore cannot tell you why.
Our new Behavioral Science Lab has been founded on the idea that people behave, experience and process things within their daily lives in a dynamic fashion, rather than in isolation. Not one factor but multiple — cognitive, emotional, social, environmental, economic — influence our brand preference and final buying decisions.
We believe we can gently uncover decision and purchase dynamics — basically the reasons we humans “Do what we do” — without completely knowing why we do them.
Learn more at behavioralsciencelab.com.