Consumer Behavior – The Nerdy Stuff
In a previous blog, I called traditional marketing “the Old Fool’s game.” I said our consumer behavior moves too quickly for old school marketing to keep up. That remains true but, more importantly, old school marketing relies too heavily on what customers are telling us rather than what they’re actually doing. These techniques were devised before the information overload, back when we didn’t have access to the types of data we have today. Sure, they can adapt to today’s landscape, but as Bane said in The Dark Knight Rises: “But you merely adopted [today]; I was born in it, molded by it.”
Gray Otter is a company of it’s time, created by a bunch of geeks who like scrolling through data and telling others about the cool stuff we find. We call it The Nerdy Stuff because…well, you’d have to be a nerd to find it fascinating. But we wear that name with pride because we know how useful this stuff can be! I’m breaking down The Nerdy Stuff to paint a better picture of how we use data science to help with your next great idea.
What is consumer behavior?
Consumer behavior is the in-depth study of how and why people choose, use, and get rid of goods and services.
Basic behavioral science is like journalism – it gives us the who, what, when, and where but it doesn’t give us the why. Understanding why we do things is even more important than how we do them because it breaks through the surface-level understanding of who we are. Consumer behavior is all about the why.
Why does it matter?
It’s important to understand why humans behave a certain way if you want them to do something, like buy a product or start a new service. Consumer behavior gives us the data we need to craft better products and marketing strategies.
You need to understand why your idea will be useful in someone’s life so you can design it with purpose. Selling something that is actually useful is much more satisfying than selling cheap crap. Consumer behavior can also show us the patterns that emerge when we look at our behavior from a wider lens, which is useful for planning things like release dates and marketing projects. You wouldn’t launch a product in December if you knew they sold like hotcakes in July.
Haven’t we been doing this forever?
Yes and no.
Old school methods like focus groups are great examples of how we used to gather consumer data. A group of people are shown a product then answer a variety of questions about it. These were useful for getting surface level information but they fell flat if the participants weren’t being honest with their answers.
Consumer behavior today differs from traditional methods by taking into account the fact that we lie. Better said, we now factor in things like psychology and cultural influences into our research.
Humans all lie a little here and there, usually without malicious intent. But one of our shortcomings, and a shortcoming of old research methods, is that we don’t always know when we’re lying.
We are our habits. What we do with our time determines who we are. If you claim to be a writer but never write things, you’re not a writer. Until the actions match up with the words, we have to rely on actual data, which says you spend you’re time playing video games or mindlessly scrolling through Reddit for hours on end instead of ever writing anything. You say one thing, the data shows something else.
With so much of our lives now online, we have an almost endless supply of data available to comb through. Modern consumer behavior uses that massive information dump and turns it into an actionable resource.