How We Uncover the Drivers of the Purchase Decision
Buyers just don't seem to be able to accurately tell you why they purchase
something. Oh, they tell you something, it just isn't the actual reason. But
they're not lying; they just don't really know themselves. How can this be?
About sixty percent of the 30,000 new products introduced every year fail. Most
all the companies introducing those products spent untold sums trying to
determine whether the market would purchase; they failed. This high rate of
failure is testimony to the difficulties of uncovering the purchase motivations
of the buyer.
But, as a close friend of mine puts it, "If you're not getting the right
answers, you're obviously asking the wrong questions."
And this is really the problem: asking the right questions and asking them the
The marketing world has long recognized that emotional factors influence the
purchase. But, the market research world has not risen to that challenge. What
both the marketers and the researchers need to realize is that, at their
foundation, all decisions are emotional. Some even have a rational overlay, but
at their core, they are driven by emotions.
Until you can understand the emotional drivers, you cannot understand how the
buyer decides. You have to be able to accurately probe emotions. Researchers
rely on surveys and focus groups. And that leads to failure.
Surveys have two problems:
- Surveys generally ask rational questions and
elicit rational answers. We need to explore the emotional.
- Surveys are great
at counting how many. They don't answer why. We need to know why.
Detailed problems with surveys
The net is that surveys just don't help that much in uncovering the emotional
drivers. And that's why the market research world invented focus groups.
Unfortunately, there are problems with focus groups:
- First, a focus group is not conducive to sharing your innermost feelings.
- Second, most focus groups try to cover too many issues to allow real focus.
There just isn't enough time to probe in depth.
Detailed problems with focus groups
Yet, with this high failure rate, marketers continue to use surveys and focus
groups. And the track record of failure after failure just continues on. But
there is another way.
How to Find the Core Drivers
What we need are techniques to enable and encourage a buyer to talk about the
emotional aspects as they make a purchase decision. Hey, guess what, marketers,
there is an entire professional category that specializes in this: the mental
health profession — psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and clinical
social workers. They are very good at uncovering emotions; they have to be to help
those with mental problems. All we want to do is to work with mentally healthy
people about a daily occurrence in their life.
We went to school on this group. They taught us how to get people to open up,
lay out their innermost feelings and explore the core drivers of their
behavior. What was amazing was how simple it was in concept. And it works. Like
We developed a technique for personal interviews. We had to provide an
atmosphere of trust and security for the respondent and be able to help them
with language. While this isn't brain surgery, it is difficult in practice and
takes considerable training. You have to be a spectacular listener with a solid
understanding of both psychology and marketing to pull this off.
We identify purchase drivers at the core emotional level. The impact on the
success of the marketing is remarkable. You can shorten sales cycles, increase
the effectiveness of your marketing activities, and design products with
greater appeal to your market. More sales, less effort.
Case history examples
A deeper understanding of the psychology
of the decision process