Connecting Mind & Matter

Bridge the consumer say–do gap to unlock spending growth

When it comes to influencing purchase behavior, most industry practices assume a linear, rational approach: a price cut or trade promotion, an increase in ad spending, premiumization. While any of these tactics can be effective, when implemented in a vacuum, they can still leave the door open for competitors.

This is because value is not rational—it’s relative. Value extends far beyond any one factor. It can differ according to shopping trip (planned vs. impulse), the number of similar alternatives on the shelf, and even by timing and location.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to influencing value perceptions. But how can businesses untangle the myriad contextual signals that drive purchase decisions—let alone position themselves to provide them?

Fortunately, there are some universal truths that guide human behavior—like the power of possession, popularity, fear, immediacy, and the value of “free.” These heuristics, or cognitive rules of thumb, make consumers predictably…predictable.

Consumers often mis-represent or mis-report what they DO

Those who are familiar with market research and surveys understand all too well the disconnect between what consumers say and ultimately do. As we alluded to earlier, people often “lie.” While usually not intentional, there are many reasons why consumers tend to exaggerate or mispresent their intentions or actions. You can see this phenomenon show up in the above analysis illustrating the gap in purchase intent versus purchasing behavior—almost 50%!—for ready-to-eat cereals. This underscores the importance of having quality data on both consumer intent AND measured purchase action to guide your business strategy.

The good news is that although consumers exaggerate, there is still a clear and predictive relationship between their claims and behavior. In the below analysis, we can see the trend difference between the number of products consumers claimed they would purchase, and how much they actually bought in-market. Both lines are trending in similar, predictable directions, but there’s a gap between them.

In NIQ’s report, Connecting Mind & Matter: Bridging the say-do gap to unlock spending growth, you’ll discover