Intention gap

David Ogilvy once said: “People don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.” Humans aren’t rational.

The Trinity Mirror group found this out the hard way when creating their newspaper, The New Day, based on claimed data. When asking consumers what they wanted from a newspaper, people replied saying they would buy a politically neutral newspaper with a focus on long form content. However, just 2 months after its launch, The New Day stopped publishing due to a lack of buyers. This wasn’t because people had lied, but what they thought they wanted and what they actually wanted from a newspaper were two very different things. In a collaborative webinar with The Behaviours Agency, we explored how to bridge the gap on what people say and what they do.

This blog will be split into two parts, with this first part focusing on why we have this gap and how we can bridge it, as well as giving tips on how to identify your customers and establish the right moment to target them.

Why do we have this gap?

This ‘gap’ isn’t due to a lack of trying on the consumers part, it is just how our brain works. Using the system one and system two framework to explain, we are much more likely to use our system two type of thinking when put in a research situation. Here we are more likely to analyse our thinking and try and explain our answers, rather than giving an automatic answer from our system one side, which is likely to be more accurate to our everyday decision making.

How can we bridge this gap?

We already know there is a wealth of research and countless examples that show there is a gap between what people say they do and what they actually do, but what can we as marketers do to address that gap?

Marketers need to start right at the beginning, their brand’s objectives. Too often, campaigns set unrealistic objectives with short term success. For instance, a brand focusing on creating a higher level of awareness may push all their activity towards this objective, but once the campaign ends this growing awareness is unlikely to stick. Instead, marketers should understand exactly the type of behaviour they want to influence and focus on setting behavioural objectives to follow.

Suppose you are an FMCG brand launching into a supermarket. Are you trying to get a consumer to notice your brand in the supermarket? Are you trying to get them to enter a different part of the supermarket? Or are you trying to make a point of difference from competitor brands? Think about the shopper’s point of view, what would make them choose your brand or decide to walk down another aisle? By creating these behaviourally led objectives, you will be more likely to bridge the gap as you are taking time to understand your audience and their everyday habits.

Identify your customers

Identifying your potential customers is essential to bridge the gap and get people to buy your product. You need to identify the people most likely to change their behaviour and the easiest to influence, and it is important to note this isn’t always the audience that say they are open to change.

We found this when we first started working with BritBox, an SVOD service competing against the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Apple TV. BritBox told us they had done quite a lot of research into their audience through surveys and found that 25-44 year olds with one subscription already were the group most likely to be interested in BritBox. However, this data didn’t necessarily reflect what this group would do in the real world where they would be choosing between the other major streaming platforms. On top of this, 25-44 year olds were already being heavily targeted by these competitor streaming platforms with much bigger budgets, so as a new player entering the market, BritBox wouldn’t necessarily win this battle.

So, we decided to use layered data to see if it uncovered any other audiences we could tap into. By looking at actual behaviour of the audiences watching the type of content BritBox provided, alongside social data analysis, we found that older age groups had a much more positive reaction to BritBox’s launch when compared to younger audiences.

We placed this insight and audience data into the context of the real-life market, and when looking at BritBox versus its competitors, we knew we had to focus on its USP of providing British content and therefore needed to target British content fans; an audience we could create in touchpoints full of people that choose to watch British content over American content.

At launch we targeted both the 25-44 year old audience and our British content fan audience, and found that British content fans were almost 2 ½ times cheaper to convert than the audience of 25-44 year olds who already had a subscription. In the first 3 months, our British content fan audience made up a massive 84% of converters! This was key to the success of BritBox’s launch and demonstrates how essential it is to not just rely on what people say they want and what the claimed data may show, but to delve deeper into what people actually want through layering insights.

Establish the right moment to target your customers

As well as thinking who you can target and which audiences present an opportunity for your brand, you need to think about when and where you can target them. Which moments will make the most impact? You cannot find this by just asking consumers outright as the moments they think they may be susceptible to behaviour change will not be fully accurate.

Research has shown that life events are a successful moment to target people, as they destabilize existing habits making consumers more likely to try out a new brand.

Our client Carabao was launching into the incredibly habitual market of energy drinks and needed to find an audience to tap into. We saw life events as a great opportunity, and so focused on targeting people who may have started a new job, were training for a marathon, or even new fathers who were running on much less sleep. Through focusing on life events, we were able to fit Carabao into our customer’s routine.

You can find out which audiences are going through life events in a variety of ways, but a great way to get this information is through search data. For instance, if someone is googling house DIY hacks, they may have recently moved home or are going through a house renovation. This type of data can also tell where someone’s phone is during the day, so if a consumer’s phone is lying in a different location for 8 hours during a day then this may suggest they have moved jobs or offices, both giving them a new environment and disrupting their habits. By honing in on new life events, your brand has a real opportunity to influence consumer behaviour.

The first part of this blog has hopefully explained the ‘gap’ marketers have to face and how to find the right audience and moment in which to target customers. In the second part of this blog, I will focus on how you can leverage between claimed and actual behaviour, as well as communicating effectively with your customers and ensuring your message is working.

Will Hanmer-Lloyd - Head of Strategy & Behavioural Planning

Author:Will Hanmer-Lloyd - Head of Strategy & Behavioural Planning