Did sales increase after the campaign? Who donated the most money?  When did website traffic peak? We can answer these questions by measuring actual behavior, a practice that is not as common in market research as one might think. This may be due to age-old industry norms that insist measuring actual behavior is too difficult and cost prohibitive. While we acknowledge this inherent challenge, we believe carefully planned research and creative solutions can make the most of opportunities to measure behavior. When it does cost more, the extra investment may actually add value to the projects, considering up-front and direct costs required to initiate the survey.

Behavior is what people actually do, so the most accurate way to measure behavior involves observational techniques. Much of our internet and electronic activity is already observed and compiled. Website use, online shopping, and social media posts leave tracks of actual behavior. Some behaviors, such as whether or not someone voted in the most recent election, are available from local governments. However, when behaviors are not easily monitored, what alternatives exist?

We have noticed some creative solutions lately. For example, in Yosemite National Park, researchers are asking visitors to carry GPS devices as they travel through the park.  While this may sound to some like big-brother, the collected data provide a wealth of detailed information for analysis that was not available through self-reporting.

Collecting data electronically clearly has advantages in time efficiency and ease of analysis, but sometimes you need to hit the streets and physically observe what people are doing. Corona is excited to continue our partnership with a local transportation authority to better understand seatbelt use.  Our experience taught us that from-the-street observations of seatbelt use are much more accurate at measuring behavior than doing so on a survey; the value added is well worth the additional cost. We continually strive to develop creative ways of measuring actual behavior because that is often what our clients need to know.

We hope you have enjoyed this series about measuring previous behavior, behavioral intentions, and actual behavior.  Each approach provides an opportunity to gain valuable insight, but they all carry associated challenges. At Corona, we have the experience and ability needed to select and execute a research approach tailored to your needs.  Give us a call and let us help find the answers to your most important questions.

Other  blogs in this three part series: