Why Do People Prefer Gut Instinct to Research?

A recent online group discussion on Linkedin; The Marketing Research & Insights Group | Powered by Quirk’s triggered interesting comment from members of the group and I have decided to blog it on our page as you would find it interesting and informative too. The topic of discussion is: Why Do People Prefer Gut Instinct to Research? shared by Michaela Mora, PRC. Owner at Relevant Insights, LLC Dallas/Fort Worth Area whose specialty is Market Research.

The question is an article originally posted by Neal Cole on his blog site at http://conversion-uplift.co.uk/post/81917362546/why-people-prefer-gut-instinct

The following is what experts have to say and my response to the question:
  • Terry Grapentine

    Author, Applying Scientific Reasoning to the Field of Marketing; Principal, Grapentine Co.

    I don’t disagree with this article; however, over my nearly 40 years in the marketing research business, I’ve seen many examples of companies in the midwest (where I live) that have been very successful AND have never conducted a marketing research study. In pondering what common characteristics these companies share, I would say that they made a quality product and knew their customers well. Their products’ awareness was driven more by word-of-mouth and reputation than by advertising. Also, the head of the company was exceptionally smart, with excellent inductive reasoning skills.

  • Market Researcher and Consultant

    In general, good decision making should be based on a combination of syndicated research sources, custom consumer research, internal company sources/analyses, as well as gut instincts. Once all of the information is collected and insights obtained, people still have to decide what directions to take. Many times, all of the data and analyses and insights can be wonderful, but the decisions made (or the execution of those decisions) fail. Research that is conducted should not just be used to confirm a gut decision or direction; further research that is conducted should not be ignored if the findings and insights differ from the gut instincts of senior management.

  • Author, Applying Scientific Reasoning to the Field of Marketing; Principal, Grapentine Co.

    Bottom Line: all marketing decisions are based on inductive arguments that are composed of premises and a conclusion–the conclusion being the decision or recommendation. These decisions are inductive because even if the premises of the argument are all true, the conclusion (or decision) is not guaranteed to be true. The point I wanted to make in my earlier post is that some people are real good at making their inductive arguments successful, notwithstanding how many sources of information they have at their disposal.

  • Bennett Wolk

    Market Researcher and Consultant

    I have no doubt that some people can make their inductive arguments successful, if they spend enough marketing and company resources to make them happen (to get distribution, advertise, promotions, internal sales incentives, price reductions or sale prices, etc. etc.), but that might not be the best or most efficient use of those resources if the underlying arguments are really weak. Then, of course, how is success evaluated (profit margins, gross sales, etc.)?

  • Author, Applying Scientific Reasoning to the Field of Marketing; Principal, Grapentine Co.

    Another reason people prefer gut to research is that they don’t trust research–and I suspect that for some of them, that belief is justified.

  • User experience and consumer insight expert, Entrepreneur, Business Consultant

    Very interesting observation. As a UX research consultant, I have to always deal with the mentality of “I know it all” from business owners and educate them about how to integrate insights into decision making.

  • Mayowa Odunnaike

    Country Representative- Nigeria at D4M Contact Ltd

    Interestingly, I recently discuss this issue with a friend who owns a small business. From our discussion, I realised not all owner-manager are competitive minded. Not everyone is ambitious or ready to build a successful business at the expense of immediate profit.

    Some people bring their faith or religious belief into their business and majority belief in Que sera sera; meaning, what will be will be. And like Frank rightly said, some have the ‘I know it all’ attitude.

    Why do we do research?

    We want to be able to benchmark our strategies and operations with those of the competition.

    We are concerned about the need of the customers and how best we can appeal to them and meet their needs.

    We want to be able to maximise revenue and as such invariably maximise profitability rather than directly maximising profitability at the expense of increasing revenue.

    We want to be able to adopt best practices that will minimise cost and waste, increase productivity and generally improve business process efficiency.

    We want to always be abreast with related trends and maximise opportunities in the business environment while being on top of existing and/or possible threats.

    We want to be trend drivers rather than trend followers or worst-still trend neglectors within the industry we operate in to become the best- market leader.

    The probability of Gut Instinct working out to deliver intended result is always lower compared to engaging in systematic research.

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