How to Measure the Un-Measurable
Yesterday nearly one hundred marketers and researchers met in Chicago to talk about new directions in marketing research. Our topic: Measuring the Un-Measurable. The event was organized by the AMA’s market research group in Chicago, headed by Joe Hopper, president of Versta Research. The event brought together professionals from companies such as Cargill, Allstate, US Cellular, Nielsen, Maritz, Versta Research, Sears, Aon Hewitt, the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, and many others.
It was a fascinating discussion that highlighted some of the newer technologies and methods of research that can help us measure important—and hitherto unmeasurable—aspects of customer and buyer behaviors. These include:
1. Neurological brain responses to marketing stimuli. Candyce Wisner and Matte Valle presented a case study of Truvia’s recent ad campaign that was tested and refined with millisecond-by-millisecond measurements of viewers’ brainwaves. The data helped them identify images and moments in television commercials where viewers showed cognitive engagement with the product, and where they showed positive vs. negative emotions.
2. Implicit memory that drives responsiveness to brands. Bruce Miller described techniques to discover words and imagery that stimulate brand responsiveness at unconscious levels. He argued that customers are “wired” differently based on past experiences, and that the key to a brand’s success is finding the message that speaks to customers who are wired to love that brand.
3. In-the-moment decision making as consumers consider which products to examine and purchase. Kathy Doyle talked about qualitative methods of measurement made possible with mobile technologies, including “street talk” mobile interviews and “shop along” interviews. These new techniques capture consumers’ spontaneous thoughts, actions, and reactions to products, environments, and experiences.
4. The collective consciousness and sentiment around brands and other important issues, as manifest in social media. Joe Colacurcio described new possibilities for measuring and understanding brand awareness, loyalty and advocacy as they are manifest in the (partially) unprompted world of forums, blogs, and other social media.
Versta Research was pleased to help lead this effort. Every new technology and method in research provides more options for a deeper, richer, contextualized understanding of customers, prospects, and products. Indeed, Versta Research derives its name and focus from the social science concept Verstehen, which means “to understand” in a much deeper way than traditional methods typically offer. As previously un-measurable aspects of customer and buyer behaviors become newly measurable, we are three steps closer to that deep understanding our clients need.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.