Marketers Thinking vs Consumers Perception

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The end of the year is the perfect time to come to something that you have been postponing for “some time later”. This is what has happened with the book written by O. Mahmoud and called “The Boots & The Tower. Actionable Market Research” that one of the colleagues from P&G shared with me several years ago. Opening it with an expectation of a quick check for some interesting ideas, I’ve found lots of very valuable and acute recommendations. Persistent Google search haven’t provided me more details on the book credentials, so I share them at the end of this post from the best of my knowledge.

As recommendations from the book cover very diverse areas of the Consumer and Market Research field, and I really don’t want to lose any of the top highlights from the book, I have decided to make several posts based on the book ideas.

We have already discussed here some challenges associated with the consumers claimed data – when they are asked to rationalize their behavior and decision-making which is often not rational (e.g. What do attitudes show?). I have also shared several approaches to address these challenges using various research methodologies like Consumer Neuroscience and Behavioral Science (e.g. Generate in-depth consumer insights with the help of NeuroscienceBringing Behavioral Science to the advertisements development).

However, even applying these methodologies and using only behavioral data, the data analysis and business recommendations are developed by humans, who spend hours and hours working on a specific brand or product.

This eventually leads to a high level of rationalization both in terms of what questions consumers are asked and how data analysis is approached.

Thus, Marketers (and also Consumer Insights Managers, right?) set too high expectations in terms of consumers feedback that requires high level of reflection and granularity on what companies can do. However, Marketers and Consumer Insights Managers should always keep in mind that these questions are not very important questions for consumers themselves (Mahmoud, 2006).

Mahmoud (2006) describes this situation as “the binocular effect” which basically outlines how Marketers and Consumer see the brands.


“In marketing, managers will spend years working on a brand. For a manager who works on a brand, every detail about that brand is important. It’s all he/she can see through that side of binoculars. For the consumer, the brand is hardly visible… A manager working on a brand for 3 years will spend about 6000 hours thinking about the brand and the category, excluding dreams and nightmares (3 years * 250 working days a year * 8 hours per day), compared to a maximum of 1 hour in a life-time an involved consumer, excluding focus groups” (Mahmoud, 2006).

Sources: Mahmoud, O. (2006). The Boots & The Tower. Actionable Market Research [pdf].

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