The classic learning model is comprised of three elements: Think -> Feel -> Do. People learn about a product or service, come to feel a certain way, and then take action. A very linear, logical approach.
In the 80s, Dick Vaughn spearheaded the FCB Grid which identified alternative learning models, such as Feel -> Think -> Do (for categories like luxury cars and perfume) and Do -> Feel -> Think for (instant gratification products like candy bars). Still linear, however.
In the 90s, based on the research I was conducting, I started counseling clients that the decision-making process was actually iterative – often with lots of back and forth between the thinking and feeling components. It’s often the case that we rationalize our feelings with thoughts and our thoughts with feelings.
But that’s only one dimension. What’s the situation a consumer finds themselves in? What are they actually thinking and feeling about? How they prioritize, based on their situation, can provide marketers will critical consumer insights.
Take restaurants for example. The diagram below shows quite a number of attributes that might be considered when deciding where to eat.
Here are several situational examples:
- I don’t have a lot of time to eat and I’m alone.
- I’m dining out for a special occasion and don’t have a lot of time because we’re going to the theater immediately after dinner.
- I feel like full-service Thai in a family-friendly setting.
- I’m driving on a highway and I’m hungry; the next rest-stops are in 5 miles and 50 miles.
Where someone “enters the decision-process” – how they prioritize what’s important to them in that situation – will determine which set of restaurants they will choose from. In our four examples, I might have some of the same restaurants on my first two lists. If children are in the party I might have some of the same restaurants (Thai only) on my second and third lists. Example #4 highlights how taking action can supersede nearly all other variables.
What are the decision criteria in your category? How can you use this approach to effectively segment and communicate with your customers?