Three Things Every Marketer Needs To Know From Google’s ‘Messy Middle’ Research

Three Things Every Marketer Needs To Know From Google’s ‘Messy Middle’ Research
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, founder of Hardhat agency Dan Monheit (pictured) offers his outtakes on the three things every marketer needs to know from Google’s ‘Messy Middle’ research…

People can say whatever they want to say. Brands can promise whatever they want to promise. But when it’s all said and done, behaviour is the only thing that’s real. 

This belief is what’s driven me to spend more of the last decade thinking about, researching, experimenting, podcasting and presenting on human behaviour, than almost anything else. So when in April this year, Google invited me to help unpack their groundbreaking global research into how behavioural biases impact our purchase decisions, it was a pretty quick ‘yes’ from my end.  

The large scale scientific study delved deep into the “messy middle” – that elongated phase between initial inspiration and eventual purchase. The research covered a two-year-long study of over 250,000 online shopping journeys and draws on decades of behavioural science research before that.

Three key insights for marketers

Historically, there’s been a lot of deeply academic research into the field of behavioural economics. What I loved was that this study specifically set out to see how we can apply these findings outside the lab, and turn them into real-time commercial, competitive advantages. 

There was a lot to take in, but my three biggest takeaways were as follows:

1. You can’t win if you’re not there 

While this might sound obvious, the Google data demonstrated the tremendous importance of presence alone – essentially, just turning up. Researchers asked ‘in market’ shoppers for their first and second favourite brand across dozens of categories. They then ran purchasing simulation, where these shoppers were asked to choose between the two. 

Just having a choice between brands, saw more than 30% of shoppers deflect to their second favourite, which rationally, makes no sense at all. It’s like saying that your favourite ice-cream is chocolate, then being presented with chocolate and strawberry ice cream, and immediately choosing strawberry! 

The power of presence alone was enough for a competing brand to take a third of the favoured brand’s sales, proving the potency of unconscious factors over rational reasoning when it comes to decision-making.

2. We’re all emos

Google’s research also revealed a new consumer purchasing model, known as ‘The Messy Middle’. While the traditional ‘purchasing funnel’ was represented by a linear path, in which consumers move from awareness, through interest, desire and action, the new model highlights the distinct modes of ‘exploration’ and evaluation’, in which shoppers add and remove options along the way. 

Sometimes, shoppers get stuck in that infinite ‘exploration/evaluation’ loop, narrowing in on a decision, before zooming back out again with updated purchasing criteria or new priorities. It’s our job as marketers to nudge them out of this loop and towards a purchase, by triggering an emotion with something relevant and compelling. For example, showing shoppers that people like them have already bought the item, that there are only a few left in stock, or guaranteeing delivery by 9am the next day was often enough to disrupt the loop and make what is objectively the same product, suddenly more attractive. 

3. Marketing as alchemy 

Marketing has swung hard in the direction of data. Ask the algorithm and it will give you the answers! But research consistently demonstrated that consumers don’t act according to spreadsheets. Emotional triggers consistently and predictably drive more sales than rational arguments. 

Most interestingly, the research showed the compounding effect of layering different behavioural biases on top of each other. In categories as diverse as skincare and health insurance, turning up, then activating a range of biases including the authority bias, social proof and the power of now, was enough to deflect almost 80% of preference away from a ‘preferred’ brand and towards a second choice. In fact, in many categories, triggering these biases was enough to deflect half of all preference towards a competing brand that was completely made up. 

The magic here is being able to steal between 50% and 80% of a competitor’s sales with techniques that cost virtually nothing to activate. Whether it’s including reviews, highlighting faster shipping or informing people that there are limited items left in stock, activating biases is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to boost sales in a significant, meaningful way.

With so many of our purchases now moving online, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to experiment with behavioural economics and start enjoying the benefits it can bring in the short and long term.

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

dan monheit Google messy middle research

Latest News

Vision6 Launches First-Ever National Brand Campaign “Simply Reliable”
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Vision6 Launches First-Ever National Brand Campaign “Simply Reliable”

Australian owned and operated email and SMS marketing software company, Vision6, announced the launch of its first-ever national brand campaign and new brand platform “Simply Reliable”. Founded in 2001, Vision6 was one of the first email marketing software providers in Australia and has since been relied upon by thousands of Aussie businesses and organisations for […]

JCDecaux New Zealand Grows Its Team To Lead Street Furniture Tender
  • Media

JCDecaux New Zealand Grows Its Team To Lead Street Furniture Tender

Out-of-Home media company JCDecaux New Zealand has appointed business growth specialist Adam McGregor in preparation for its bid to win upcoming local government street furniture tenders across the country. With contracts for the provision of street furniture including bus shelters across New Zealand up for renewal from late 2022, they collectively represent the biggest advertising […]

ABC iview Goes Virtual With Fetch TV
  • Media

ABC iview Goes Virtual With Fetch TV

Fetch TV has announced that ABC iview will soon be available as a dedicated Virtual Playlist Channel on the Fetch platform. Virtual Playlist Channels (VPCs) were developed by Fetch to promote content discovery, and to provide a clear bridge between the traditional world of linear TV and the growing availability of on demand content via […]

Jackie Gillies Joins The Acast Creator Network
  • Media

Jackie Gillies Joins The Acast Creator Network

Jackie Gillies, businesswoman, psychic medium and cast member of The Real Housewives of Melbourne is bringing her sassy, inspirational and adventurous spirit to her new podcast Shine It Up, With Jackie Gillies, which launches today via Acast. Hosted and distributed by the creator-first podcast company Acast, the show will offer listeners inspiration and motivation to […]

Hungry Vax, Jabstar, JAB Hi-Fi: Aussie Designers Give Iconic Logos A Pro-Vax Revamp
  • Media
  • Technology

Hungry Vax, Jabstar, JAB Hi-Fi: Aussie Designers Give Iconic Logos A Pro-Vax Revamp

Crowdsourcing platforms DesignCrowd and BrandCrowd are promoting vaccination efforts in a unique way, launching a logo redesign contest among their networks of designers. The initiative saw iconic Australian brands such as Hungry Jack’s, Jetstar, JB Hi-Fi, and Bunnings undergo a redesign.  “We thought it would be fun to see some other iconic Australian brands back […]

Harper’s Bazaar Australia Appoints Jillian Davison As Editor In Chief
  • Media

Harper’s Bazaar Australia Appoints Jillian Davison As Editor In Chief

Jillian Davison has been named editor-in-chief of the recently relaunched Harper’s BAZAAR Australia. She will oversee all content, development and creative direction across the iconic magazine’s digital and brand platforms. Davison (pictured) succeeds Eugenie Kelly, who recently stepped down to pursue other opportunities. The announcement was made by Maureen Jordan, publisher of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia […]

72andSunny Unveils First Campaign For Plant-Based Drink Brand Australia’s Own
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

72andSunny Unveils First Campaign For Plant-Based Drink Brand Australia’s Own

Freedom Foods and 72andSunny Sydney have launched the first advertising campaign for Australia’s Own range of plant-based beverages. The campaign introduces a new visual world and identity for the brand and captures the healthy, positive feeling you get when spending time in nature and when consuming Australia’s Own certified-organic, plant-based beverages. As well as featuring […]