What Consumers Say vs. What Consumers Do

Seems like I have seen many examples lately of what I call the “halo effect of a healthy lifestyle.”  Basically, when it comes to health and wellness, everyone you meet is totally committed to living and eating in a fully natural and sustainable manner. Right. I am reminded of a focus group we conducted a few years ago for which we carefully screened participants over the phone to make sure we recruited only health conscious individuals who watched their diet carefully and exercised 3-5 times per week. We anticipated a fit, trim and active group. Boy, were we wrong. It looked like a pie eating contest at the county fair.  How could our screening procedure have gone so wrong? Easy. What people say they do and what they really do are seldom the same. Particularly when it comes to health and wellness. A recent survey by Just Kids Inc. indicated that 86% of Moms surveyed rank “healthy and nutritious” as the most important characteristic of an ideal food for their kids. 82% said that an ideal food is one that “establishes good eating habits.” OK. Then who is buying the Pop Tarts, Mac & Cheese, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Probably many of those same Moms.

The lesson here is that as marketers in the natural products industry, we always have to look beyond what our customers say to determine what they really do and how they really act when no one is observing or taking notes. The moment of truth comes when Mom walks down the grocery aisle and makes food and supplement choices for her family. She knows what she SHOULD DO and she knows what her kids WANT her to do. The question is what will she do?

Getting at true consumer motivation and authentic buying behavior comes through continued tracking and an ongoing dialogue with your customers. As you get to know them better, you can better predict their behavior and make smarter marketing decisions.

Now, please pass the Oreos.

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