Accurate predictions of buying behavior would be possible if you could get customers and prospects to state their honest attitudes. But unfortunately in customer surveys, stated attitude is often not their honest attitude – the one that they will base their buying behavior on. (How else could you possibly explain New Coke?)
Even in focus groups, people generally don’t say what they really think; they say what they believe the moderator wants to hear. They will be “politically correct” but not necessarily truthful. For example, focus group participants faced with the choice of one lottery game offering 10 prizes of $1 million and another offering one prize of $10 million will usually choose the one with the 10 prizes. As any lottery insider can tell you, the most popular game will always be the one offering one prize of $10 million. When shelling out real money, the buyers react quite differently from what they say they will do in a focus group.
You have probably been in situations where a prospect says they want to buy, but when the moment came to write the cheque or sign the paperwork, your calls were never returned. When it comes to making buying decisions, people don’t always do what they say they’ll do. So keep this in mind when you do market research and product surveys.