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What We've Learned From How Consumers Really Use Your Product

Updated: May 24, 2023

I have a confession to make. All those times we went and ordered slices of pizza and I said I wanted two slices... I wasn’t being totally truthful. I wanted three most times. Heck, sometimes I wanted 4! I didn’t mean to mislead you, it’s just I felt like that was the answer I was supposed to give you. Not too much, not too little. A good, safe amount that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. That’s really what I was going for – how much can I have without garnering any attention. How much can I have to fit with what I think your expectations are? Sure, when I’m home alone I have 4 slices basically every time, but I can’t let you see that! What would you think of me then?

Oh, and one more confession while I’m her. I know you’ve done this too! I mean, we all have. It’s human nature to want to present ourselves in the best light possible – to want to fit in, to want to be accepted, and to meet the expectations of others. When my wife and I first started dating, I pretended to like beef tartare to look cool in front of her (she’s a very adventurous eater). She bought a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers to wear around me because she saw that I wore mine almost everywhere and wanted me to notice she liked them, too. Were we both doing things we normally do and presenting ourselves “as we really were”? Of course not! Was it malicious or misleading? No way! We just wanted to win each other over.

And that, my friends, is where most research consumers land. It’s a dirty little secret – an open one that we all recognize but choose to ignore. People, out of pure human instinct, want to show us the best versions of themselves. And the bigger secret? They also want to help us be correct. At Adrich, our connected consumer platform helps us look beyond consumers’ stated behaviors, the ones that they can use to show us the best version of themselves, and into their true product usage.

We allow our technology to take the mundane and manual work out of consumer hands – think remembering or “tracking” when, where, or how much product usage occurs – and ask them only to tell us “why” they did what they did. We see the behavior, they explain it! In my two years of leading research efforts here, I’ve seen more than my fair share of hidden insights come to life using our technology. I’ve seen these learnings translate into real, actionable, and profitable decisions. Beyond that, I’ve come away with a few really great consumer stories that help illustrate the exact phenomenon described above. Want to hear them? One minute cleaning = Two real-life minutes, I think.

I’ll spoil this one right away and in the least surprising way ever – they don’t! On multiple occasions we have used our Customer Connect platform to ask consumers to let us know how often they engage in a particular behavior. We then use our patented smart consumer usage trackers to monitor their actual behavior and compare the two. As you’d probably expect, comparative results vary widely by person and by category. In cleaning product testing, however, the gap is almost comically huge. Nearly every consumer – I’m talking like 75% of them – says they clean every single week or AT WORST every two weeks. The reality? The average consumer is cleaning monthly. So what is the explanation here? Are people no-good, rotten liars? Are they describing their preferred/desired behavior? Do they not really know what they’re doing? Or does every minute spent cleaning count as two real-life minutes? And what is the impact to our product, marketing, and supply chain decisions if we are assuming weekly usage rather than monthly? What is the business value of closing this gap and inefficiency? Is it stealing if we technically gave it to them?

The product comes back empty. The journal lists, in great detail, all of those product usages and just how effectively our product worked each time. Dates, times, amounts…it’s all there. What incredible details!

But hey…wait a second…as we monitored their product using Adrich sensor technology throughout the test, we saw no data coming through. Except this morning. We did see one really long use this morning. And now that I’m looking at it, why is the ink from the entry 14 days ago still wet? Something seems off.

As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve seen this behavior on more occasions than you could believe. Folks who agree to be part of our test, do nothing throughout, ignore directions, fake the “deliverable”(sometimes going as far as to dump our product into another container to keep for their own usage later), take our incentive dollars, and throw bad data into our results! Using smart tracking technology allows to monitor compliance during our test period, nudge users who need a little nudging, and identify if users providing “bad data” to remove from our final, clean dataset. Better data in, better data out! What on Earth are these consumers even doing?!

One of my very favorite uses of Adrich technology – finding the unspoken use cases and bringing them to the light of day. Think about the products you use in your daily life – do you have any that you use in unusual ways? If I asked you about it, you’d probably tell me the obvious use case. You probably don’t even realize with your active mind the other ways you use products until I force that thinking, do you? Let me make it personal. That canister of parmesan cheese with the little holes on one side and the big huge opening on the other? I open the big side when shaking on to my spaghetti because I love that stuff. If I told you I shook some on to my pasta before eating it, would you assume that behavior? Or would you assume I open the little side and shake as is more intended? Using Adrich technology, you don’t need to assume – the sensor will keep all that information for you.

When we go into most of our studies, we have an intended behavior which we anticipate monitoring through our technology. In the vast majority of our studies, “odd” behaviors begin to exhibit themselves. Using our Consumer Connect platform, we can use these events to automatically trigger surveys or questionnaires to our test consumers to understand what this behavior is and why it’s happening. I have about a hundred more of these, but you’re a busy person so I’ll spare you from more reading. If you want to hear more of them, or if you have any of your own to share, reach out! I’d love to learn from you, share with you, and connect with you – who knows, maybe we could even work together!

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