Research bursts marketers’ digital bubble

Marketers could get a reality check from a study which shows they are overestimating the use of mobiles and tablets in shopper research as well as the use of social media for customer service. 

Mindi Chahal

The Marketing GAP Tracking study by fast.MAP, produced in partnership with the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM), looks at 1,000 consumers and 350 marketers and hows that marketers overestimate the number who usually use mobiles by more than 150 per cent and those who use tablets by 200 per cent. 

David Cole, managing director of fast.MAP, says that “marketers judge reality based on their own experience. Many of them will have tablets and access the web via mobile, so they believe everyone else is doing the same, when in reality they are not.” 

The gap between marketers’ perceptions of consumer behaviour and their actual behaviour highlights the need for there to be a reality check. 

The marketers’ bubble begins to form when perceptions are based on their own behaviour and trends about new tech and channels are hyped up around them which is clearly shown in the study. 

When it comes to customer service and preferred channels marketers believe that 8 per cent of people favour Facebook whereas only 2 per cent do, and that 7 per cent favour Twitter compared with the real figure of just 1 per cent.

This type of research can give marketers perspective, particularly when it can be easy to get caught up in the hype of new technology and new channels and paths to the consumer. 

Cole also speaks about impatient marketers making bad decisions. He says: “Marketers would far rather feel they have spent a few pounds, even if it’s thrown in the wrong direction, than sit back and do a bit of research so when they do throw the money it’s going in the right direction.”  

A sentiment that I agree with. When research is done for the right reasons, for example without an agenda to show a certain channel is better than another, then it can be most effective. It may be needed, for example, to investigate a perceived need to switch a budget to digital media, before that spend is wasted. 

However, the question is whether the reality of the research, in terms of what consumers are actually doing, will have any effect on those marketers looking to try, test and spend money on new channels. 

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