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Bridging the “Say/Do Gap” in Market Research

  • July 31, 2023

What is the Say/Do Gap?

The say/do gap is a widespread challenge that research professionals face every day and, until recently, has been difficult to solve for.

This gap is the difference between what consumers claim they do, and what their actual behavior is.

In most cases, this isn’t intentional on the part of the respondent, but driven by shortcuts humans use for decision making (e.g. unconscious recency bias, groupthink in focus group settings, attempts to avoid cognitive dissonance, etc.).


What Does the Say/Do Gap Look Like?

The world is a very subjective environment, and every individual perceives it in their own unique way based on their own unique experiences.

For example, someone could claim to a researcher that they consume a healthy breakfast every day. But what they might categorize as “healthy” may actually not be.

In another instance, someone might say that they do their laundry every Saturday and use three cups of detergent. But are they really measuring out the same amount every time? Or what if they have a couple of weeks that throws off their chores schedule? How do you ensure you’re doing everything you can to maintain or increase consumption?

Why Does the Gap Matter?

While on the surface these unintentionally false claims might seem harmless, they can dramatically impact the ultimate success or failure of a product offering.

Brands looking to succeed can’t ignore the say/do gap. They need to deeply understand “why” exactly their consumers think the way they do – otherwise, they’re likely to miss valuable insights, unmet needs, and innovation opportunities.

Sometimes a product might perform well in qualitative and/or quantitative testing, but then doesn’t meet consumer expectations or sell well.

This is because there can be a disconnect between qualitative and quantitative learnings, and anecdotal qualitative feedback isn’t always representative of the broader market.

How Do You Bridge the Gap?

Ask Deeper Questions

Don’t ask consumers simple or straightforward questions. Encourage them to lean into storytelling and describe their experience more in-depth.

If they use words like “just,” “usually,” or “typically,” they likely aren’t telling you the full story, so push them to paint a more accurate picture of their experience.


Automatically Track Product Usage

Researchers can also leverage the power of next-gen technology to track product consumption automatically – without ever asking survey respondents a single question.

By using QualSights’ cloud-connected, “always-on” coaster-shaped sensors, you can track:

  • Product consumption of each usage occasion to less than one gram of accuracy.
  • Frequency of each usage occasion with the specific date and time stamps.
  • Duration of each usage occasion.
  • Location of the coaster within a person’s home.

The Power of Observation

In an interview or focus group setting, many respondents will not be able to tell you exactly how they use a product because they simply can’t remember that level of detail. Or they could be influenced by the power of groupthink and just go along with what other respondents are saying. Both of these lead to inaccurate insights.

Instead, observe consumer product use directly for yourself by asking respondents to record videos of themselves shopping for products in stores or engaging with the product in their own homes. This will give you the “why” behind the “what” and give you a clear line of sight into how you can provide your consumers with better experiences.

QualSights can help you bridge the say/do gap with Precision IHUTs, which are powered by our groundbreaking, cloud-connected sensor technology that automatically captures all consumer usage data with exceptional accuracy. Interested in learning more? Reach out for a customized demo today!

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