Market research faces a challenge that it shares with the social sciences: it is a discipline in which subjects study subjects. Human beings as subjects of study in the social sciences are very difficult. Our being is made up of a multitude of dimensions and elements that make the task of understanding ourselves very complex. No wonder there are numerous disciplines of this nature: anthropology, sociology, ethnology, demography, psychology, history, geography, among others.
Many market analysts, in fact, belong by origin to one of the sciences listed in the previous paragraph. When we approach people as consumers, we encounter an obstacle to knowing in depth their concerns and needs: human beings do not usually verbalize all of their thoughts. This area of opportunity has been around since the early days of marketing. However, researchers have implemented techniques that make it possible to remedy this situation.
Here are five of the most common reasons why people don’t say everything that occupies their thoughts:
- Idiosyncrasy. Not all people have the same difficulty saying most of their ideas. In some countries the development of their societies has imposed that it is not correct to express all their ideas and thoughts in public; in some cases not even in more private settings. Some examples of this type are found in East Asian societies where the social is valued more over the individual and in Latin American countries where it is highly valued to be well with the other rather than expressing one’s own ideas.
- Not all language is verbal. It is also true that there are no people who always verbalize all their thoughts. Many studies have revealed that a large part of the ideas that we communicate do so through other means such as body posture, gestures, clothing, use of nearby objects, among other codes. For this reason, in qualitative studies, direct observation of the interviewees is privileged as far as possible, since even the form of the silences says something to the experienced researcher.
- Circumstantial biases. All people filter their ideas because of prejudices; in most cases they are not aware of them. Some of them are beyond our control and it is the task of analysts to reduce the noise they introduce into the conversation to achieve a greater flow of ideas with consumers. For example, it will be sought that the interviews carried out by the analysts take place in neutral spaces and with facilitators who disinhibit the participants so that they can communicate as many thoughts as possible. Otherwise, the result of the study activities may be totally unsuccessful.
- Lack of experience. In some situations, people’s silence is simply due to their lack of knowledge of the subject they are being asked about. On some occasions, it is necessary to know how to deal with respondents with great imagination and with many desires to be heard since their answers do not serve us. In other cases, the lack of verbalization is influenced by the fact that people do not have the sufficient educational level to allow them to express their ideas as they would like.
- Personality. People are very diverse and our ways of facing different challenges are as numerous as individuals. Therefore, there will be scenarios where we have in our favor the four factors explained above, but the way of being of the person we interview prevents them from speaking openly about what they know. In these cases, there are some alternatives to alleviate this assumption and they range from conducting the interview with an analyst more related to the interviewee or giving thanks for not putting too much pressure and interfering in the quality of the answers that we could obtain.
After 18 years of continuous work, the analysts who operate for Acertiva have accumulated experience that allows them to design qualitative research projects. We know that it is valuable to integrate best practices in order to correctly address the challenge of people who do not verbalize everything they know and want to share with others. Write to us today to find out about your market research needs and we can tell you how together we can carry out your next success story.