10 reasons for using an implicit response test in your market research
10 reasons for using an implicit response test in your market research - you’ll be surprised by number 7
Most traditional market research relies on consumers’ conscious or spoken responses, but implicit reaction tests can be used to analyze the subconscious and get insights that are not possible using traditional methods.
If you are curious about the possibilities of consumer neuroscience in market research, here are some reasons why you might consider implicit reaction time testing.
1. Traditional surveys aren't’ always good at measuring emotions
Asking people about their lifestyles, general buying habits, and main likes and dislikes is fine for capturing social demographics and some basic trends in consumer behaviour. But if we want to find out how they really feel about a particular service or product, we need a different approach.
Most consumer decisions are based mostly on feelings and emotions rather than conscious thought. We buy things based on our gut reactions, intuitions and hunches, which have little to do with rational decision making that you’ll often measure in a more traditional question-based survey. Implicit surveys, on the other hand, are all about understanding emotion-based decisions and without asking direct questions.
2. Introspection is not very reliable
Suppose you want to find out which assets on a product’s packaging capture consumers’ attention and which tend to be ignored. How accurate would consumers themselves be about this if they were asked? Would they know which aspect grabs their immediate attention? Would they know which graphic, bit of text or color caused them to buy the product?
These questions might not be answerable with introspection and may require more objective and reliable techniques. Implicit response testing is the perfect candidate because it captures attention through reaction times - the respondents’ behaviour, and not their verbal response, reveals what they are visually attracted to.
3. People tell you what they think you want to hear
During a survey, some respondents may want to please the researcher, maybe because they are getting a reward or feel good about participating. Others may do the opposite and want to be very negative or unhelpful in their responses.
Many researchers also believe their questions are objective and can only be interpreted in one way, but questions can elicit specific responses. Asking respondents how much they would pay for a product ignores that they would want to pay the lowest price possible. To avoid leading the respondent, you need a technique that isn’t based on direct questioning. Implicit does this by abstracting feelings indirectly.
4. People reveal their feelings in their reaction times
With a traditional survey, respondents have the power to answer in ways that do not reflect how they really behave. You are essentially putting your investment in the hands of their subjective (biased) impressions of themselves.
Ideally, you want objective responses that cannot be faked, responses that are closer to how they behave and not what they want you to think. Implicit response tests can give you that because people reveal their feelings in their reaction times.
5. People often fail to make real discriminations in a traditional survey
In surveys that ask respondents directly about their behaviour, responses tend to be all-or-none. Respondents do not discriminate if asked to rate a brand on different attributes. They either rate it highly across all attributes or close to neutral, which fails to provide rich insights.
In an implicit test, respondents can’t fake their responses, so the full range of positive and negative feelings they have is captured. Their feelings about different brands are also clearer and more discerning.
6. Memory is fallible
Memory is biased. It prefers to recall exaggerated, unusual, painful or recent experiences. So if we ask someone how they feel about their desktop printer, this cue will trigger the memory of the times when it didn’t work properly rather than the time when it printed off a photo you took of your recent holiday.
Asking respondents directly how they feel will invite these kinds of memory biases, which can be disastrous for brand strategy planning.
7. Respondents can tell you which product or brand they prefer but not why
If you ask people if they would prefer to drive a BMW or a Mercedes, most will answer with a degree of confidence, and they’ll probably be quite accurate about it. However, if you ask them why, you will get fewer insights - because memory biases mean that people might have feelings towards brands even after forgetting the origin of those feelings.
Implicit tests, however, might tell you that people who enjoy driving intrinsically prefer to drive a BMW and people who like to display their status would prefer to drive a Mercedes. These deeper insights are useful for branding and can help your product perform well against competitors.
8. Respondents may deliberately try to hide their feelings
Asking about sensitive issues, such as health-related or personal care products, may make respondents understandably uncomfortable. They may skip the question, or worse, supply answers that do not correspond to how they really feel.
Implicit response testing, however, can capture useful data on sensitive topics by not asking respondents about them directly. Instead, they search for target words and respond as quickly as possible, and their feelings are detected indirectly.
9. People can’t always verbalise how they feel
Attributes and feelings can be difficult to put into words. When this happens, we will find a truth gap between what respondents say they do and what they actually do. Some people can be extremely good at verbalising how they feel after careful deliberation. Most people are not.
Implicit response testing doesn’t require a verbal response, nor does it ask respondents to explain why they feel the way they do, resulting in more honest answers.
10. In an implicit test, people don’t make overt evaluative judgements
Given the many issues and biases related to verbal responses, any evaluative judgements by the respondents could be inaccurate or uncorrelated with how they behave. In an implicit test, respondents just try to press the correct key on each trial and this allows researchers to draw inferences about how respondents feel – it captures their inner feelings.
Implicit tests have many advantages over traditional surveys due to not relying on direct questions and conscious responses. They can look deeper and find results that would be hidden in the subconscious, which can make a difference for your strategy.
Split Second Research’s platforms were designed to analyse subconscious responses and gain insights that are not possible using traditional methods. Learn more about our solutions today.