How consumers censor opinions

I was interested to read the article “Testing time” in your April 13 issue, particularly the reference to the growing use of attitudinal measures in evaluating the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns.

There is a danger in taking the view that attitudes and opinions predict behaviour. The problem is that, for instance, a consumer will express the opinion that the important attributes he is looking for in his next car purchase are safety, reliability, good service and hard value. In reality, however, it is the status or self-esteem that he acquires from a particular marque or model – how it looks to other drivers and what it says about him – which determine his purchase decision. He is self-censoring his expressed attitude or opinion.

His values and beliefs are what really determine his behaviour, and if his esteem needs are high then he will purchase a car that gives him that esteem.

It is now possible to determine an individual’s values and beliefs by using the Social Value Groups, which can be appended to any database or used to target particular individuals holding a specific set of values or beliefs.

David Anthony

Synergy Consulting

London W5

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