Don’t Ask. Watch.
By now I hope that I have convinced you of the futility of asking people to tell you what they think, do, will think, or will do. They will give you answers, even sincere ones. Just not any that you dare count on.
So how on earth does a marketer predict a market’s behavior? Easy — at least in concept. Create a real situation, turn your market lose in it, and watch what they do.
To find out if more people will browse a table with a blue or red sign on it, skip the focus groups. Put out a blue sign, hide, and watch. Then put out a red one, return to your hiding place, and watch again. Do this often enough in enough stores and you will fast learn which sign, if either, sells more.
With a little imagination, you can figure how to do much the same thing with direct mail, print ads, and the interactive media. More on this coming up.