The gap between beliefs and behaviours

James Murphy
Future Foundation

Understanding behaviour and motive are the preserve of market research. Even then, competing methodologies and subjective interpretations often produce conflicting findings. The entry into this arena of Big Data complicates these issues even further. In this article, based on the Future Foundation's recent book, The Big Lie, James Murphy dives into the maelstrom of conflicting and contradictory 'truths' with insights for marketing practitioners.

We open with a question that is both topical and pointed for the marketing community in every consumer-facing sector: what should we make of the claims of Big Data and the notion that conventional opinion research is not the force or the value it used to be?

These days, it is hard to miss the landslide of articles about the power of predictive analytics – the power to convert waves of colossal and often longitudinal records of human behaviour into marketing treasure. The promise is that ever more precise targeting of liable-to-buy customers is within brands' grasp. Amid this, perhaps the most striking proposition of all is that the exploration of consumer moods and purposes prior to marketplace engagement is not the strategic necessity it used to be.

Causality's casualties