space Home space
space Contact Kevin space
space Availability space
space Great Mind Award space
space Hall of Fame space
space Personal Interests space
space Shocking Truths space
space Best Practices Test space
space Curriculum Vitae space
space Brand Death Watch space
space Case Histories space
space CEO / CMO Exam space
space Webcasts space
space Marketing Blog space
space Copernicus space
Kevin J Clancy - Marketing Consultant
spc_image spc_image
Hall of Fame

There's a Negative Relationship Between What People Say They Will Do and What They Actually Do

As many of us have learned the hard way,  self-reported measures of buyer purchase interest (consumer or B2B, product or service) overstate the actual purchasing that will take place.   People don’t do exactly what they say.   Much of this overstatement comes about because the research environment assumes 100 percent distribution (all those aware of it will be able to find it easily),  and 100% awareness of the concept, two conditions the company never realizes in the real world.

However, even correcting for awareness and distribution, more people are likely to say they “definitely will buy” than in fact do buy. They often overstate by a factor of 2:1. Dissimulation/prevarication/dissembling/overstatement, whatever you choose to call it,  is as alive and well in “Researchworld” as it is in Washington, D.C.

We have closely examined the relationship between people’s reports on a widely heralded 11-point scale and actual buyer behavior (among people who were aware of the product and for whom the product was available to be purchased) for numerous consumer packaged goods.   We have also looked at this relationship for consumer electronics, prescription drugs, new beer brands, industrial gasses, home energy services, credit cards, new television programs, new movies, new cars, package delivery services, personal computers, for the home and business markets, and business-to-business software.

Note that this scale is superior to the traditional 5- and 7-point purchase intent scales which are in common use today for several reasons

  • It’s more discriminating
  • More reliable
  • Enhances serious thinking by respondents
  • Clear interpretation across respondents
  • Reminds us to deal in probabilities (not “top box” cutoffs)
  • Greater validity

In our experience, usually no more than 75 percent of the people who claim that they definitely will buy actually do so.   This figure declines as self-reported purchase probability declines, but the ratio is not constant.   It is not linear.  This leads to a set of adjustments for each level of self-report, which convert questionnaire ratings into estimates of likely behavior.   The lower the “self-reported” intent, the less we believe it and we must make adjustments for overstatement.

These adjustments, as an aside, vary by the consumer’s (or B2B buyer’s) level of “involvement” in the product category.   The higher the level of involvement in the product category, the more faith we can have in what people say and the lower the need for overstatement adjustment.

By taking purchase probabilities and involvement into account, it is possible to produce a reasonably valid estimate of actual sales (i.e., the percentage of consumers who would buy the product at least once). 


Shocking Truths:

> There's a Negative Relationship Between What People Say They Will Do and What They Actually Do
> Quality and Price Are Positively, Linearly Related
> As Price Goes Up, Sales Go Down
> New Product Appeal and Profitability Are Not Positively Related
> Jobs-Based Segmentation Is Not a Remedy to Marketing Malpractice
> Most Brands Are Unpositioned
> Higher Levels of Customer Satisfaction and Retention Don't Always Translate Into Higher Profitability
> Net Promoter Scores Suggest That Most Companies Employ a Failed Business Strategy
> Back To The Future: How a Discredited Research Tool Discarded in the 1960s Has Become Popular in 2012
> Spending Money to Build an Emotional Connection with Your Brand Won't Build Market Share
> Most Companies Are Operating without a Vision
> Derived Importance Measures Will Lead You to the Wrong Decision
> Focus Groups May Kill Your Brand
> The Maximum Difference Methodology: a Questionable Solution in Search of a Problem
> Heavy Buyers are the Worst Target for Most Marketing Programs
> CEOs Don't Know Much About Marketing
> Advertising ROI is Negative
> Many CEOs Never Take The Time To Do It Right
> Given lots of cues and prompts, few people remember anything about your television commercial the day after they watched it
> A Dumb Way To Buy Media Is Based On The Cost Per Thousand People Exposed—CPMs
> Implementation May Be More Important Than Strategy
> Zip Codes Tell You Little About Consumers And Their Buying Behavior
> Retailers Rarely Send Truly Personalized Mailings to Individual Customers
> Too Much Talk About Brand Juice
> Marketing Plans are more Hoax than Science