Marketers should be wary of insight based on rational responses

The ways and means of gathering consumer opinion are becoming more complex thanks to emerging techniques such as eye-tracking and neuroscience in addition to collection of data through traditional surveys and focus groups. 

Mindi Chahal

This throws up a debate over the quality of responses marketers get from research projects, particularly when rational responses differ from intuitive ones.

It is an age-old argument that people in focus groups and surveys respond in the way they think they should or how they want to be perceived rather than telling the truth.

However, this debate is growing because of new technology, including eye-tracking and measuring brain activity or physical responses, yielding truer consumer reactions to brand activity.

This week, MMR Research Worldwide (MMR) released research into the value of brand sponsorship of sports events.

Using the World Cup as a case study it looks at the levels of association between brands and the tournament, using traditional questions to get rational responses and implicit techniques to access a respondent’s intuitive response.

Respondents were shown a series of images associated with the World Cup, such as brand logos and on-pack promotions interspersed with distracter images of Brazilian dancers and football stadia.

They were asked to hit the space bar every time they thought the image was associated with the World Cup. This was then repeated but the second time respondents were asked to hit the space bar when an image was not associated with the World Cup. The research was conducted leaving just enough time for an intuitive response.

This technique shows that Adidas was notably more successful than Nike at driving association levels with the World Cup and reveals the same story plays out for Coca-Cola versus Pepsi, McDonald’s and Burger King and Budweiser and Heineken.  

MMR believes that using these implicit techniques alongside traditional questions provides a truer account of brands’ sponsorship success and I agree.     

Marketers should watch out for the ways in which insight is gathered to attach value to those insights accordingly. A truer account of consumer responses to brand activity should be the preferred option.