Motivation Research

Motivation Research

Motivation Research

In all the methods of consumer research which we have so far discussed, the researcher has been establishing ways and means of discovering how people behave in relation to certain products. The questions put to respondents in the probability, the random and the quota systems, and by means of the consumer panel, refer to the make of product they have purchased, the retail outlet from which the purchase has been made, the date and the time of the purchase and the quantity of the product which they have bought. Such information, reduced to statistical form, provides the ONLINE MARKETING Manager with important guidelines on the state of the market and its likely trends and also on the situation of his own product and the products of his competitors within that market.

In spite of this abundance of information, however, one essential question is still left in the air. This question is: why does the consumer behave in the way he does?

Upon reflection, it will be apparent that none of the research methods so far discussed can answer this question adequately. We have seen that ordinary people will, on the whole, provide truthful answers with regard to their purchasing habits for a wide range of the goods and services which they buy. When it comes to the question of why they purchase particular products, from a particular retail outlet at a particular time, accurate answers are far more difficult to achieve. For one thing, the motives which prompt a considerable proportion of purchasing behaviour are entirely subjective and it might be difficult for the respondents themselves to offer any logical explanation. Secondly, people's motives for wanting to buy certain products or to use certain products in certain ways, their preferences for one brand as against another, for shopping in one type of store as against another, are rooted in habits or mental attitudes which, even if they were recognized by the respondents, they would often not wish to divulge to the research interviewer. If pressed to provide explanations for their actions, they would, in all probability, take refuge, consciously or subconsciously, in evasion or falsehood.

It has, therefore, long been recognized that research into the motives of consumers-or, as it has come to be called, motivation research-is a specialized field and demands specialized methods of approach on the part of the researcher.

Motivation Research originated in America. It was found that the purchasing behaviour of consumers resulted from influences which could be divided into two groups. The first of these was external influences, such as the size of the family being catered for, the social class to which they belonged, the appeal of the product in its physical form-such as its size, shape, taste or smell--and its emotive appeal by means of advertising and promotions. The second group consisted of internal influences such as the consumer's personality characteristics, acquired knowledge, moral standards, superstitions and religious beliefs.

To tap this subterranean flow of motives the consumer researcher has turned to the field of clinical psychology and has adopted and adapted a number of its techniques. The methods used in Motivation Research are considerably more expensive than conventional methods of consumer research. Respondents are asked to submit themselves to various types of psychological tests such as word association, sentence completion and cartoon tests. These are all designed to establish subjective reactions to certain stimuli, as a result of which-it is claimed--the researcher can classify the pattern of their behaviour.

It is hardly surprising that a method of research intended for commercial purposes which relies upon methods still at the pioneering stage of medical research should not receive universal acceptance in the business world. Indeed, considerable scepticism exists as to the value of motivation research. Apart from doubts as to the validity of its methods, a major drawback is that, in general, it does not lend itself to statistical treatment.

Motivation Research is a complex subject. It is still very much in the stage of innovation and there can be little doubt that, as science delves deeper and deeper into man's mental and emotional processes, there will be greater opportunities for, and confidence in, the motivation methods of consumer research.


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