Researching implicit memory: Get to the truth

Nichola Kent-Lemon

There is a view that the results of market research are skewed because people respond using their rational, explicit memory when most decision-making is implicit and instinctive. So how is traditional research evolving to get to the real truth?

How will my customers react to my new product portfolio? What could persuade customers to use my services? Why is my product not hitting its sales targets?

These are difficult questions, and the success of every new product or service depends on the answers. The truth about what motivates consumers to behave as they do is of huge importance to salesmen, marketers, product developers and business owners alike. But how can we get to this truth?

Much has been written about the extent to which market research can access the truth behind consumer motivations and so make accurate predictions about likely future behaviour or attitudes. Many researchers see accessing implicit or subconscious decision-making as the Holy Grail in decoding these consumer motivations; but the sticking point remains that direct measurement of the implicit and instinctive lies firmly in the domain of neuroscience, outside the budgets and time restraints of the average consumer research project.