Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Saying one thing but doing another?

All of us who have conducted focus groups and the like know that the information gathered from those sessions can be highly suspect. People are not always consciously aware of why they make some consumption decisions, which makes getting at perceptions and motives tricky business. Also, it's easy for participants to say one thing even though their behavior says something very different. One advertising agency network is taking a stab at addressing these shortcomings using a sociological approach. DDB has recently launched SignBank, a service that collects and processes bits and pieces of cultural change and their meaning in order to tease out trends. According to the New York Times, trained DDB "sign-spotters" get out into their communities and report back trends or "signs" to SignBank that are collected and analyzed. Interesting!

The So What: Librarians too might want to think about ways to gather more information on behavior as opposed to pouring over survey and focus group data alone. Next time you're cruising the stacks, try actively observing what's going on all around in order to pick up on important trends or needs.

Side note: DDB did make some marketing predictions for the coming year, noting that consumers will demand more specialization and, in contrast to other predictions that state consumers will want to call the shots when it comes to products and services, DDB thinks that consumers will seek out guidance and leadership. If these prove true (and I believe they already are to an extent), these trends will mesh perfectly with librarians promoting their expertise and specialized services in the information world!

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