Claimed vs. Actual Consumer Behaviour

“I always brush my teeth for 2 minutes”

A lie.

“I never buy my children junk food”

Also a lie.

“I will definitely buy this brand”

The biggest lie of them all.

And the scary thing is, everybody does it. Everybody lies.

Whether they mean to or not.


Professor Zaltman concluded 95% of the rationale behind consumer behavior to be unconscious. So it’s not necessarily that consumers are lying to be spiteful or to save face, it’s far more likely that they just don’t know what it is that they actually do.

And as market researchers, that leaves us in somewhat of a sticky spot. A spot that’s called ‘claimed Vs. actual behaviour’. That is, distinguishing between what consumers say they do versus what they actually do.


So here’s the trick, the truth is rarely in what we say. It lies in what we do.

As we’ve already said, everybody lies.

But everybody shows the truth. So it is through observing the consumer that we get closest to that truth. Observing the real-life contexts, the non-verbal cues and the triggers.

Gone is the flawed reliance upon consumers post-rationalizing their subconscious decisions from memory.

Gone are the business decisions based on lies.

And gone are the excuses for not doing it.

The meteoric rise of the smartphone gifts you front row seats to observing your consumers’ behaviors without even having to being there.

Respondents recording their behaviors at the time, in the place and with the people that they would normally be with is as close-to-true as it comes.

All you have to do is sit back and watch.


Editors note: WatchMeThink will be speaking and exhibiting at the upcoming MRMW North America conference on April 24-25 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Join Fran Benoist and her team and learn about their latest research methodologies.

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Fran Benoist

Fran Benoist

After finishing university and the obligatory mortarboard throw, Fran ‘accidentally’ applied for a role in a French Ski resort. France turned into Europe, Europe turned into Asia, Asia turned into Australasia and 6 months turned into 24. Once back on home soil in 2016, Fran joined Watch Me Think as a Thinker Manager, where the day to day involves running research projects, servicing clients, writing the odd blog post and crushing it on the Mario Kart track. And, most importantly of all, having an absolute hoot in the process.

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