Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Mon, Aug 22, 2022 @ 04:09 PM

Social Influence in Decision Making-One Powerful Question Every Market Researcher MUST Ask!

1 Powerful Question

In this market research methodology primer, we explore the impact of social influence and suggest that you ask ONE POWERFUL QUESTION as part of your customer persona development research or market segment behavioral analysis. We believe no customer or prospect profile can be considered complete without incorporating answers to this important question.

The basic hypothesis is that we are social creatures and our decisions on what to buy is influenced in part by both our social interactions and social references, the latter being formed by the groups or "tribes" we belong to. This is true for both B2C and B2B decisions, with the latter conferring referral power to their peer groups; colleagues in their organization and other companies they relate to.

Here is the question: If you were to purchase Product X, whom would you want to tell first?

So what will the answer to this question reveal and how will it help your marketing efforts to reach that customer or prospect persona? Here are some benefits of obtaining answers to this question:

  1. As mentioned above, as social creatures, we will want to tell others, even more so in our social media driven world. Uncovering who those others are enables us to incorporate marketing messages that at least subliminally communicate that the person they would want to tell and wish to therefore impress with news of their purchase will in fact be impressed with their decision.
  2. The tribal influence cuts both ways, therefore as part of the go-to-market strategy, you could incorporate the persona they would like to tell/impress as at least a secondary target for your content and messaging.
  3. Lastly, who they want to impress also reveals a lot about them and is an important consideration when building a psychographic profile of your ideal customer profile. I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of not only collecting psychometric data on your ideal target customers but also of interpretation.

One item to consider is whether the question is best asked as a quantitative survey question or a qualitative interview question. We have asked it both ways, but have obtained more meaningful results in a qualitative venue where the question is followed up with an open-ended WHY? We have always been big champions and believers of the power of qualitative data, even more so today in the quantitatively driven world of Big Data we live in. If you have not had a chance to obtain your free copy of my eBook, The Qualitative Edge when we offered it earlier this year, we have now made it available for download from our website; here is the link:

To conclude, we believe the social influence aspects when mapping the customer decision journey are important components of obtaining a full 360% profile of your ideal target persona. We hope you will use this question in your next customer survey. As always, I welcome your comments.

Alan Nazarelli is President & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group.

Topics: Market Research Best Practice