In some situations, it is possible to simply ask about these relationships. For example, the relationship between eyewear and attractiveness is not particularly threatening. Most consumers probably would not be uncomfortable telling you that they consider how attractive they look in eyewear before purchasing. However, most often you do need special techniques to probe emotional benefits:
REASON #1: SOCIAL DESIRABILITY BIAS DISTORTS THE DATA
People are often frightened of being judged and will only say what they think is socially desirable. For example, some people are uncomfortable verbalizing the desire to feel attractive. To them, Feeling Attractive is something to be quietly pursued, not publicly acknowledged. This is particularly true for older women, many men, and those from Asian cultures. When someone of this ilk is asked for an emotional connection, they will tell you something more socially desirable like "it makes me feels practical" or "it makes me feel safe."
While social desirability bias is a small problem for 'Feeling Attractive," it is a much bigger problem with many other motivators like "Feeling Sexy," "Feeling Excited," "Has a Sense of Belonging," and "Feels in Control."
REASON #2: EMOTIONAL MOTIVATION OFTEN OCCURS BEYOND THE CONSUMER'S CONSCIOUS AWARENESS
The conscious experience of emotional benefits is usually vague. People have difficulty articulating their underlying motivations and even more trouble specifying how product features are related to these emotional benefits.
REASON #3: THE CONSUMER'S SELF CONCEPT IS THAT OF A COMPLETELY RATIONAL PURCHASER
Most consumers want to think of themselves as logical, rational buyers. The idea that feelings influence purchase threatens this perception. Consumers don't realize (or don't want to admit) that advertising images affect their purchase decisions. Indeed, most consumers want to believe that they purchase based solely upon rational facts such as price, value, taste and performance. Moreover, since consumers tend to deny that emotions (and the product imagery with which they are associated) affects their decisions, they can become anxious that their answers to direct image-related or emotionally-laden questions are a reflection of their personality. The result of all these dynamics is a relatively quiet respondent, who gives sensible, general, barely useful responses.
REASON #4: CONSUMERS FEAR ADVERTISERS' MOTIVATIONS
Finally, some respondents are concerned that if strangers really knew what made them tick, retailers and salespeople would take advantage of them and sell them things they did not really need.
Despite these inherent difficulties, many market researchers (who are unaware of alternative approaches) attempt to ask direct questions to assess imagery in focus groups and in-depth interviews. However, a handful of qualitative market researchers have borrowed techniques from psychology called "projectives" in order to obtain richer, more detailed descriptions of product imagery.
Most of our techniques rely on projective methodology. (Note - see Dr. Sharon Livingston's article on projective techniques for a more thorough treatment of the subject). Through these techniques we can provide a clear picture of purchase motivation, and the emotional end benefits attached to your brand. Please see the sub-pages of this section for details.
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