What influences consumer behaviour? That’s the burning question for every business and marketing company looking to increase their sales.
Over the past decade, how we analyse consumer behaviour has been revolutionised by tools for social media listening and online behaviour analysis. But there’s a problem: these tools generally only focus on quantitative metrics, giving binary answers to try and answer a very complex and nuanced question: what causes people to make their purchasing decisions?
At Symanto, we’ve developed AI technology to help answer that question. Our tools analyse vast amounts of both quantitative and qualitative data online for you to use as marketing research to understand consumer behaviour.
The difference between quantitative and qualitative data
Quantitative data is about understanding the facts of social phenomena. It assumes a fixed and measurable reality. As a result, it doesn’t allow for nuance and is quite limited in what it can tell us about the psychology behind human behaviour.
However, most of the data collected by social listening and web analytics tools is quantitative. It tells us what they are doing, but it doesn’t explain the cause of the behaviour or the psychology of the consumer.
Qualitative data, on the other hand, can provide us with a deep insight into the perspective of consumers. It is reported through language, and as such, it is as rich and complex as the psychology of the consumers themselves.
Traditionally, collecting, researching and analysing qualitative marketing data to understand consumer behaviour has been time and resource exhaustive. But as we will explore, Symanto has developed AI technology to extract useful qualitative information from existing data online within a matter of minutes.
This qualitative data helps you to understand your consumer base far more accurately than focussing on behaviour patterns and demographic information.
The limitations of measuring consumer behaviour
We’re not here to challenge the idea that measuring consumer behaviour is useful. It is indisputably useful to be able to notice trends in purchasing behaviour, and interactions on social media. But the problem is that this data can only tell you what is happening, it doesn’t leave you with much information as to why it’s happening.
Two people with similar demographic profiles can demonstrate the same behaviours, but their reasoning can be very different, and they respond to very different messaging. For example, two men in their 30s buy a food processor. One uses it to make smoothies to boost his morning workout, the other buys it to make quick mid-week meals for his family.
Will these two men make the same purchasing decisions moving forward? Unlikely, and yet this is the assumption we are likely to make if we try and predict consumer tendencies based solely on demographic profiles and past behaviours.
Symanto analyses qualitative marketing research to understand the personality traits behind human behaviour
At Symanto, our focus is on understanding who your customers are and through that information, we can more accurately predict why they do what they do. In other words, whereas most social listening tools work backwards from the end result (behaviour) to try and predict who your customer is (their psychological traits), we start at the source by studying what people say.
Our text analytics technology mines vast quantities of unstructured open-ended answers (the information that really helps us understand people) for useful insights, and extracts information such as the personality traits of the people behind the data.
Our psycholinguistic AI technology has learned to recognise and analyse patterns in language and associate how people use language with key personality traits.
Understanding personality traits
Personality traits are generally described as continuous patterns of behaviour, emotion, and thought. Various approaches, from behavioural to psychoanalysis, have been utilized to generate a deeper understanding of personality and human development.
One of the popular theories is the Big Five personality traits theory which revolves around five factors:
● Openness to experience,
A relatively similar approach is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), developed by the mother and daughter duo Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Myers. Their work further developed the typological theory proposed by Carl Jung, which stipulated that there are four main psychological functions, namely sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking, with one of these playing a dominant role for an individual most of the time. It is this approach that Symanto’s technology is based on.
How can this information be applied to help companies?
Understanding personality traits helps to inform companies in two main ways:
1. How their consumers make decisions:
For instance, does the consumer make decisions in an impersonal way using logical reasoning, or do they base their decisions on personal values and how their actions affect others around them?
2. How their consumers prefer to take in information:
For example, does the consumer respond better to pragmatic information described in a literal way, or are they open-minded optimists who enjoy imagining scenarios and enjoy figurative and poetic language?
These two key aspects provide crucial insights for companies to enable them to better understand their consumers’ decision-making processes and furthermore inspire them to take an action.
Another significant advantage of uncovering the personality traits of consumers is that they are stable across time in contrast to behaviour.5 While our actions and choices vary considerably over time, our personality traits remain fairly constant.
Get better insights with Symanto
When it comes to analysing qualitative marketing research to understand consumer behaviour, Symanto’s suite of products can be used to extract meaningful insights such as the personality traits of your consumers. With this information you can make better decisions to drive the efficiency of your messaging and forge stronger relationships with existing customers.
 Kassin, S. M. (2003). “Psychology”. Prentice Hall, Inc.
 Matthews, G. et al. (2003). “Personality Traits (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.
 Myers, I. B.; Myers, P. B. (1995). “Gifts differing: understanding personality type”. Davies-Black Pub.
 Kaplan, R.M.; Saccuzzo, D. P. (2008). “Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications and Issues (7th ed.). Thomson Learning EMEA, Limited.
 Matthews, G. et al. (2009). “Personality Traits (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. Pg. 447