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Think about all the decisions you make every day, about which brands and services to use. Some are active and conscious choices – where shall we go on holiday this year? Others make far less impact on your attention, such as when you click to read an online article or grab your usual brand of soft drink on the way to work. You might not think of that as a decision at all.
These choices might add up to hundreds of brand interactions per day, and marketers care about how you make them. Some of the most unconscious choices take place in the busiest market-places… Just how many snack bars are there in the average supermarket? And researching the different factors which go into this selection is a fascinating job for qualitative researchers.
“Mums are frequently acting as the gateway consumer for an entire family”, explains Maya Middlemiss, from Saros Research Ltd.
“As well as their own choices of food, clothing, travel and entertainment, parents regularly make decisions on behalf of larger numbers of people, and have a wider range of factors to take into account: is this a healthy choice, will it be sustainable, will my older kids see it as cool, what about value..?
And mums who work outside of the home as well interact with far broader categories of products and services – not to mention, the decisions we make at work might be more far-reaching and have higher stakes.
“When you make brand decisions on behalf of a business or employer, you’re probably considering different factors, to when you’re picking up some groceries to take home”, explains Middlemiss. “You might have to weigh up the needs of different stakeholders – such as those who will use equipment, vs those controlling the budget. You might be trying to guess the way a trend or technology will develop.
“But what particularly interests researchers is the fact that similar mental models actually come into play, and the way our brains work in these different spheres might in fact be more similar than you think. Whether you’re specifying components for a space satellite, choosing a destination for a city break, or picking up some toilet cleaner from the corner shop, your mind runs through similar processes. And a lot of this isn’t consciously thought through, or you’d never get home to clean the toilet – you rely on things you already know and think, about the brands and items you’re considering”.
The qualitative research events that Saros Research recruit for frequently explore these mental models and thought processes, and it’s a fascinating experience to be part of.
“Participants tell us that they’ll never look at shopping in the same way again! That it’s brought them greater understanding of their own thought processes, and they way they attach values and feelings to things in a way they’d never consciously been aware of. They also tell us they’ve really enjoyed the experience, of sharing their feedback and ideas with a brand they may love (or hate!), and having a genuine influence on the way they develop their products and communications in future”.
If you’re a working mum, you could be having your say with Saros – the first step is enrolling as a potential participant, so that you can receive invitations to events coming up in your area. You can only take part occasionally, but when you do it’s really interesting and fun. And of course dads are welcome too – any UK resident aged 16 or over is welcome to enrol.
Saros Research ltd are Company Partners of the Market Research Society, and the events they recruit for are genuine research – your confidentiality and privacy is assured at all times, and you will be well rewarded for your participation (typical payment for a focus group would be £40-50).
Click here to register with Saros