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Do We Need Non-conscious Measures?

Non-conscious measurement tools can be quick, cheap and relatively easy to master to find deeper, more credible insights.

“Everybody lies.  All the time.  We’ve always known it.  It’s about time we took more initiative to address it directly. – wrote Tony Costella, Director Central CMI, Global Commerce, Heineken at the end of his IIeX Europe Big Ideas series post.

I couldn’t agree more.

We know very well about System 1 and System 2 and how important emotions are in the decision making process. We are aware that people’s declarations can be misleading and that even merging a couple of traditional data sources is often not enough to overcome this issue. Yet, merely a half of the researchers (according to GRIT 2017 Q3-Q4 Report) are trying to avoid this bias by implementing non-conscious measures which are more suitable in the detection of lip service.

Why only half?

Are those measures too hard to implement? Are they too expensive or too complex? I assume non-conscious measures evoke some kind of fear that they demand more effort to be fully understood and implemented.

However, this can be easily solved. We can select from a vast array of non-conscious measures. Surely, some of them can be really complex and expensive, like fMRI, but others – like response time surveys – are quick, cheap and relatively easy to master. We do not need to use very sophisticated tools, if we just want to understand what the crucial brand values are. There is no need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

All we need to do is to ask ourselves – do I think that respondents’ answers might be biased? Will I receive better insights and a more complete story, if I can say something about the emotions of my respondents? Will it be beneficial, if I know whether the answers were given with conviction or hesitation?

Then maybe it is worth looking for a non-standard research solution.

For instance, if you are exploring new ideas with qualitative or ethnography, implicit metrics can help you evaluate the findings or even better – when performed in real time,  latency measures can navigate the whole process, allowing you to immediately focus on those aspects that are crucial from emotional point of view.

When you are running surveys, implicit measure will reveal which answers are more reliable and are more likely to be transformed into actual consumer behavior.

Nevertheless, we need to remember that non-conscious measures are not the ultimate answer. Not always will we find ‘the wow effect’, as some researchers might think. Those measures, as an additional source of insights, allow us to better understand consumers’ biases in order to create deeper, more credible recommendations. They provide a more complete picture and identify the ‘lies’, even if those lies are unintentional or simply are an effect of lack of understanding of how we make our own decisions.

What is my advice? Explore but do not expect that you will find answers to all your questions. Be open minded. Talk with experts, with clients, with your team and find out how much non-conscious measures can give you.

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Michał Matukin

Michał Matukin

Chief Scientific Officer, NEUROHM