A Crystal Ball? Almost.

New study reveals that how a customer thinks and feels can predict how they’ll act

I’ve done a lot of talking in the past year about my (almost embarrassing) aha moment when I realized despite all of the progressive work I had done in a previous life–building a MarTech stack, bringing together all of the different marketing data to create a digital-first, content-driven engagement strategy—that I was missing crucial data—Small Data gathered from research to understand how my customers think, feel and act. Without that understanding, I realized our personas, messaging, brand story and content were based on what WE thought our customers needed but we never bothered to ask them and understand them.

FocusVision commissioned Forrester Consulting to investigate the motivations underlying consumer decision-making. Forrester surveyed 522 US consumers to recall and describe how they thought, felt, and acted throughout a memorable brand experience and 228 US B2C marketing and customer insights decision makers, including 54 CMOs, to gain insight into how they seek to understand their customers and what key challenges were holding them back. We were trying to answer the questions:

  • What data is the best fit for building a holistic picture of customers,
  • How brands currently get data for understanding their customers,
  • How can brands make the right data the engine of decision-making?

The study found that even with the deluge of Big Data in recent years, B2C companies struggle to gather and operationalize the data that most reliably measure true customer motivation. In fact, just 38% of firms strongly agree they know why one customer chooses to buy from their brand while another doesn’t.

The study also proved that the way customers think and feel about an experience can predict how they will act toward a brand, with how the customer feels about the brand having a 1.5x greater impact than think.

As Marketers, we’re all on the same quest to be able to predict business outcomes like revenue, advocacy, and loyalty. After all, isn’t that why brands are investing so much in data? But the challenge is that if it’s not the right data, that predictability will always be unattainable. The study found that brands using small data as a basis for their knowledge of how customers think and feel are more likely to say they know why one customer chooses to buy while another doesn’t.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about the blogs I’ve written being very honest about the struggles and challenges I’m facing as a CMO. I know no one wants to admit they don’t have it all figured out but the way I feel is that this is a really exciting time in Marketing with so much changing—from customer expectations to the tools we have to do our jobs—and we are all working on figuring it out. So why wouldn’t we talk about it? And, this study confirmed that my peers out there are struggling with the same things I am—getting to the right data to inform your strategy. I acknowledge that it’s the FocusVision mission to help companies get to their Customer Truth—how they think, feel and act—but I feel so passionate that it’s that understanding that will truly unlock so much for Marketers and their brand.

But don’t just take my word for it, read the full study, “How Customers Think, Feel and Act: The Paradigm of Business Outcomes” and in addition to a lot more, you’ll see this: “The research is conclusive: How people think and feel determines how they act. What appears to be a simple notion has eluded marketers for decades; dyed-in-the-wool brand marketers have been reluctant to let go of inside-out marketing principles focused on product, pricing, and promotions. In the last several years, a growing movement of psychology-influenced marketing, behavioral economics, and proof points like Forrester’s Brand Energy framework illustrates the importance of emotions in consumer decision making. The first step to collecting the right data and performing the right research is to frame the issue correctly, and organizations looking to impact consumer decision making must afford primacy to how people think and feel.”

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