Hidden Intent and Hazelnut

Jan 30, 2020 | Behavioral Science, Blog | 0 comments

I want to tell you about an odd consumer behavior of mine. I live in the great city of Chicago, but every morning I drink a cup of Wawa hazelnut coffee. Wawa, for those of you who don’t know what pork roll is either, is a revered convenience store you can only find in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware tri-state area (and also Florida for some reason). Chicago isn’t lacking in coffee so why do I bother with the hassle of getting coffee from over 800 miles away when there’s perfectly good stuff right down the street? Why is exactly the question you want to answer.

Hazelnut coffee can be purchased just about anywhere that sells coffee. But most hazelnut coffee only supplies a pleasant aroma and jolt of caffeine with its taste. 

I moved to Chicago from the east coast a few years ago, leaving behind all my friends and family, in hopes of a new start in an exciting city full of opportunity. As exhilarating as that journey has been, I still miss home and all of the creature comforts that come with it. Back home, every morning began with a fresh pot of Wawa hazelnut coffee. 

So when I’m stuffing six bags of grounds into my already-too-stuffed suitcase, or when my mother ships me care packages full of that nectar of the gods, it’s not because I love that particular brand of coffee; It’s because I miss my home. 

The real reason we do things, the underlying motives behind our actions, is what we call user intent. On the surface, I like Wawa hazelnut coffee. But my deeper intent is a longing for home, for the things that bring comfort and warm thoughts. Nostalgia. 

Understanding that deeper intent, that deeper why, is the true brilliance of behavioral science. Just like we lie sometimes without realizing it, we search for things online that we’re not really searching for. Someone searching for a financial advisor is actually searching for financial freedom. 

Knowing someone’s deeper intent is knowing them at a deeper level and isn’t that what we all want? To be seen, heard, and understood? We crave connection. 

We study behavioral science because we want to understand people. We want to know what makes them tick, what drives their actions, and why they are the way they are. Consumers are more than a line in your sales sheet; they’re living, breathing humans who are trusting that your product or service can make their lives a little better. 

When you understand the people you’re trying to connect with, connection becomes that much easier.

What motivates you? Check out Gray Otter’s Intent Project to uncover the hidden drivers that influence your decision making. 



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