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Ted Talk: Why Market Researchers Are Like Physicists

21 Jul Posted by in Cactus Call | Comments Off on Ted Talk: Why Market Researchers Are Like Physicists
Ted Talk: Why Market Researchers Are Like Physicists
 

Thoughts On Dan Cobley’s Ted Talk: Why Market Researchers Are Like Physicists

Cathy Whitehead McIntyre, on September 24, 2013

The contradictions
are what make human behavior so maddening and yet so fascinating, all at the same time. (Joan D. Vinge, American Science fiction writer and Hugo-award winning author)

Many of us are sometimes unpredictable, inconsistent and, at times, act contrary to others’ expectations of us.  For market researchers, analyzing the reasons underlying consumers’ sometimes puzzling behavior presents complex challenges – and opportunities.

In a recent Ted Talk, Google’s marketing director Dan Cobley drew a parallel between three laws of physics and the marketing world.  He included the Heisenberg Principle in his examples, highlighting the fact that the minute one starts observing people, they tend to change their behavior – precisely because they know they are being observed.

People tend not to admit (either to others or, in some cases, to themselves) doing things that aren’t socially desirable or acceptable.  And just as being observed can change behavior, discussing their behavior can change people’s explanations for it.  The real challenge, then, for market researchers, is to get beneath what is strictly observed or what is described by respondents, to try to understand the real underlying motivations, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that drive behavior.