What people say is not what they do!

What people say is not what they do. We´ve known that already for years.

What people say is not what they do!

What people say is not what they do. We´ve known that already for years. Famous scientists have studied, in the context of behavioural economics, people’s behavior and have shown that most of the choice behavior is irrational. Even with this knowledge, marketers and market researchers try to rationalize irrational behavior all the time. 

So, when people say yes, they often act more like no. In many situations this contradictory behavior is not driven by some kind of reluctance. Usually people say things with best intentions. People act not according to what they say, because saying things (whether or not with best intentions) does not have consequences.

Last year a friend of mine was renovating his house. During several months prior to the start of the renovation, lots of friends offered him help to accomplish this comprehensive project. However, by the time he started, many friends, even some of his best friends, let him down and he completed the project with just a few people.

What became very clear to me was that all these friends really were willing to help him completing the project, but by the time their intention had to become an action with serious consequences (investment of time and effort), most of them did not act according to their intention for several reasons (e.g. no time, other things to do).

In market research we often ask consumers for opinion and their intentions, for instance to buy a product. This does not have any consequences and is therefore a sub-optimal way of gaining insights. I’m glad to see the growth of online research communities as a tool to observe, rather than to ask. Recently another new tool has been developed to measure real consumer behavior.

Two PhD candidates from the University of Amsterdam have developed an online auction platform (Veylinx), used for research purposes. Blauw Research and Veylinx became partners and clients of ours like Heineken and Philips have already successfully used this revolutionary method.

The auction method is based on the work of Nobel prize winner William Vickrey, and is called a Vickrey Auction. It works as follows: 

  1. Consumers place one sealed bid in a real online auction.
  2. They answer a few questions about your product or service. 
  3. The highest bidders actually buy the product, but pay the second highest bid.


In this type of auction people are not bidding against each other since the bids are sealed, but they are encouraged to place a bid in accordance to how they value a product. In the auction different ‘ads’ of the same product are shown. Each bidder only gets to see one ad. The difference between the ads depends on the subject to be studied. This is an example of the added value of mentioning the Philips brand: 

Next to this branding example, different claims, brands or types of packaging can be studied. Next to these study object, a price curve will show you the real consumer value of your product! Results are based on one KPI: Willingness to Pay.