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Detecting the Truth vs Lies in Consumer Insights

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

The results from your In Home Usage Tests (IHUT), habits and practices, ethnographies, or any consumer research/product testing are only as good as your consumers are honest - and they are not.

Of course, your consumers don’t intend to be dishonest or mislead you. That said, these traditional methods of conducting consumer or market research have a fatal flaw - they are based on the biases and perceptions of your consumers rather than their actual behavior, measured in real-time. As Elizabeth Hackbarth, Associate Director, Global Insights Innovation, The Clorox Company pointed out in this case study, “One of the outages that we find is that most of the things that we do to find out behavior is through claims data. So a consumer

comes in, they take a survey and they answer it. And we know that there are some inaccuracies in how consumers answer so that’s why we specifically call it claims data.”

Recent consumer and market changes call for a new approach to Consumer Insights

To make matters more urgent, consumer behavior is changing quickly - especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent report published by McKinsey & Company explained “As these new behaviors solidify, companies will need to adapt to fundamentally different consumer preferences and behaviors regarding how consumers get their information, what and where they buy, and how they experience the product or service. Many companies will need to increase their investment in insights and plan to stay on top of the changes.”

So, how can we bridge the gap in our knowledge of consumer behavior to know what they are really doing with our products and how they are using it? There is a new and better way of conducting market research.

Passive consumer usage tracking works by attaching “smart tags” to consumer products, which results in the ability to track the consumption and usage patterns of various consumer products. The smart tags let you know in real-time, who is using the product, where, when, how much they’re using it, when they’re running out, and whether they are interacting with other consumers at various points during the usage experience.

The benefits of passive consumer usage tracking outweigh traditional market research methods, such as online surveys and in-home ethnography studies in the following ways:

#1: Accuracy

Since this sensor-based technology does not rely on journal entries by consumers, it minimizes consumer bias while providing real-time data. “We get real-time feedback as the products are being used,” said Kerry Azelton, Associate Research Fellow, The Clorox Company in the same case study mentioned above. “The data we get back is 10 to 100 times more reliable than anything we get in any other tests.”

#2: Reduced consumer burden

Passive consumer usage tracking means that there are fewer demands on consumers in order to take part in a market research study. This non-intrusive method of market research can be set up and forgotten - no need to log a diary!

#3: Larger data set

Get more out of each study with a larger data set. Some research managers feel observing behavior data gets them 1.5 times the amount of data compared to traditional ethnographies and IHUTs. This allows for deeper insights and ideas for a more robust innovation pipeline or improved messaging. In one example, a manufacturer of fabric softener discovered that some consumers didn’t fully understand the difference between fabric softener and detergent and that some consumers chose to use fabric softener for on-the-go occasions such as a car freshener!

#4: Efficient access to data

Passive usage tracking requires less manual work for insights managers/market research firms due to the automated transmission of usage data right into organized analytics

dashboards. In addition, results can be monitored in real-time. This means that insights professionals can focus more of their time on actually analyzing and thinking about the strategy rather than spending time preparing the data.

Achieving the ultimate goal of better business results

For brands, real-time usage behavior tracking translates to higher in-market success and better business results, which is the ultimate goal of a consumer insights effort. Through better and more accurate data, brands can prevent launching a product based on the wrong information or identify ways to improve their messaging or existing products to achieve true alignment with the consumers.

Would you like to see how real-time usage tracking can enhance your consumer insights program? Get in touch here.

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