We’ve read with great interest Alastair Gordon’s recent article on research methods measuring emotional response.
Mr. Gordon points out that sometimes, “Don’t know” may be the real answer after all. He adds, “Many people choose brands automatically, as a matter of habit and with little thought. Reasons for attachment can get buried and forgotten. Autopilot purchase behavior prevails in lots of categories.”
Mr. Gordon is referring to consumer products, but his argument applies to technology market research as well. While “autopilot purchases” are less common in Corporate IT than in other areas, they still happen.
We recently completed a study for a client that included talking to recent purchasers of their product. The topic of the study wasn’t competition, but there were some great competitive anecdotes that popped up, so we included them in the report. After all, who doesn’t love hearing about their competitive wins?
There was one particularly interesting scenario where the research participant already owned the competitor’s product and had done a successful implementation of the it. Still, they shelled out what was for them a significant amount of money to purchase our client’s product.
When this came up during the interview, I drilled down on the reasons for not using their existing solution – missing features, total cost of ownership (even though they product was free, maybe there were support or infrastructure costs?), relationship issues with the account manager – but it really boiled down to something else entirely.
There was no “logical” reason for the purchase. It was the power of the brand – although the research participant didn’t realize that and was unable to articulate it. He “didn’t know.”
Of course, this was very good news for my client, they have a great brand that wins them competitive deals. But the participant couldn’t articulate that. It was one of those cases where “Don’t know” was the real answer after all.