Consumer Intent and Consumer Behavior

By Dave Tan, VP, Content Solutions

What truly can gauge consumer intent for brand and product marketers? Market research studies? RDD surveys? Focus Groups? Online surveys? Ethnographies? Online panel data and demographics? Search data? The last one may not be the first thought that comes to mind for many marketers and advertisers. However, it is one that gets overlooked.

For one, you have wonderful free tools like Google insights for Search, or Yahoo to see how consumers search. Beyond seeing how consumers search, it allows a very large window into consumer sentiment and consumer vocabulary. It’s a much cheaper way to mine how consumer’s think about brands, products, and services without the boatload of time and resource intensive focus groups. As I have asked many readers of this blog to do in their free time, search away at these tools. Spend five minutes or five hours in the tool set, as it gives tremendous insights into how consumer’s think about your products.

Now, please don’t get my thoughts wrong on this. If you can afford extensive and intensive consumer research, please do so. Coming from the marketing discipline, the more research you can hand me for any product or service will make my strategic thoughts tighter and crisper. However, for the efficiency and comprehensiveness, search or digital behavior research maybe one of the better solutions around. My belief is that as consumers, we all search the way we think. Simply put, what we type in those search boxes across the internet and mobile platforms is often times the bare elements of our information gathering.

Personally speaking, I am lucky if I remember brands, taglines, or even product descriptions. Unless I have been messaged to a bunch, I probably don’t have all the details. So, what do I do? I start the search. Certainly using as many terms as possible, but it is one of the first places I go to for information. This is not the same as when I’m answering an online survey question, nor the same as answering a focus group. My information seeking is in a completely different mindset when I am searching. Why? Because I am actively seeking immediate information. I am not in a pondering mode and answering questions.

Now, divorcing my actions as a consumer, I step back and see that there is a treasure trove of key insights and learnings from those same consumer behaviors. Match that same data and insights with web analytics data and deep digital personas of target audiences can be shaped. You can then lay out how a consumer actively thinks about products, where they go online, what competitors they may go to, etc. So next time you are looking for insights into your consumers, hit the search engines. No matter what you find, it will be insightful and educational.


Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.