Over the last year, TapestryWorks has been helping many clients decode the complexity of human behaviour to optimise marketing plans, brainstorm behavioural promotional campaigns, audit in-store execution, and understand shopper behaviour. We’ve worked across many different categories, and one of the most common questions is whether “System 1” (implicit) decision-making applies to business in the same way as it applies to consumers. My answer is that it does, because ultimately it’s always about people. That is, B2C and B2B are both P2P.
TapestryWorks SNAPP framework is a useful way to decode behaviour, so let’s see if it can throw any light on the decision-making of market research buyers. The SNAPP framework groups the hundreds of mental heuristics into five key themes of human behaviour: the need to keep things SIMPLE, the desire to follow social NORMS, the importance of being mentally AVAILABLE, the tendency to make things PERSONAL, and the brain’s focus on PATTERNS in the world.
Keep It Simple
It’s clear that many market research buyers like to keep things simple. There are a huge number of suppliers, even in a small market such as Singapore, and behavioural science shows us that although we like the idea of more choice, the reality is that too much overwhelms the mind. That’s why many companies keep a limited list of preferred suppliers (often just one in the case of creative work). This reduces the time and effort needed to find a solution to any individual job, acting much as defaults do in guiding someone’s path. It also makes it very difficult to change the list, as humans favour the status quo and like things more just through the mere effects of repeated exposure.
Follow the Crowd
Research buyers often use norms to help them decide. One simple rule of thumb is to go with the biggest and most popular companies – this is why Ehrenberg’s double jeopardy law works. Buyers may also go with companies recommended to them by others (or even where they know someone or have previously worked). Another normative influence is the bias towards “authority figures”, such as companies or individuals with specific expertise. That expertise may be in a particular local market or a particular problem area (e.g. branding) or a particular skill set (e.g. TapestryWorks in behavioural science and implicit research). If you want to leverage normative behaviour, one simple trick is to use reciprocity by giving something away first before you expect something in return.
Make Yourself Available
Mental availability is also important (every researcher knows about “top of mind”). Many accutane order online research companies seek to be famous through advertising and sponsorship, although the science shows that this is never as effective as word of mouth (and definitely needs more financial investment). Another approach is (literally) to “stand out” by being very different, and especially by looking very different (why do some agencies use colours such as pink rather than the universally safe blue?). Although being big helps you to be more available (back to double jeopardy), it is also possible for smaller companies, as long as you can build a strong association to a specific context or client need which is unique to you.
Keep It Personal
Research buyers as individuals all have a need to feel good about themselves. All humans feel the need to be consistent and optimistic in their own abilities. We all love the illusion of being in control. Confirmation bias shows that clients and researchers need to be aware of the tendency to look for information that confirms what we already think (and ignore evidence of the opposite). Being personal makes us averse to losses and risks, as we don’t like change and want to keep hold of what we already have. On the bright side, the endowment effect shows that once someone has invested time, effort, or money into even the smallest decision, they become much more open to taking the next step (i.e. win the small project before you go for the large prize).
Create a Pattern
Last, but not least, the brain is ultimately a pattern-recognition machine, looking for meaning even when none exists. This is why priming and framing are such powerful tools in shaping our expectations. For research sellers, this means that first impressions really are important in shaping how research buyers think about you (and by first impressions I mean the first 1–2 seconds when you meet). Framing and anchoring are very important in how you think about pricing, the most important tip being to offer alternative options to frame the choice that you would like someone to make. For example, adding a decoy choice of a slightly cheaper and inferior alternative massively increases the chances that the better one will be chosen (buyers, you have been warned).
Although we like to think differently, there is still much in common between selling research and selling cupcakes. If you want to maximize your chances of success:
- Keep things simple.
- Give to receive.
- Stay top of mind.
- Make it personal.
- Frame your offer.
Buying research is all about SNAPP decision-making.