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  • Writer's pictureBruce Crandall

Research-on-Research: The Benefits of In-the-Moment over Time

How reliable is memory? Not very as we recently demonstrated. Our last blog, The Realities of Recall vs. In-The-Moment Diaries, shared how in-the-moment responses differ from recall responses. Specifically, our research on eating behavior showed that in a recall study people typically reported paying less and eating later, but in-the-moment mobile diaries showed that they actually spent more and ate earlier. Today we’ll show the benefits of in-the-moment data over several days demonstrating how emotions change and memory fades as time passes, comparing snapshot versus trending average and giving you a deeper understanding of consumer motivations and emotions.

Personal Best: Accurate or an Anomaly?

Just as a personal best (score, time, record) doesn’t give an accurate indication of how a person performs in general, collecting a single day of data gives you an incomplete snapshot of their overall behavior. Extending data collection to multiple days (we used four days) provides more data points and a far more accurate view.

For example, people significantly overstated meals “away from home” in the recall study. But the four-day in-the-moment diary clarified that they actually ate at home more often.

Understanding Why

In recall studies, it’s difficult to go into depth about what and why people eat what they eat, even when you explore yesterday’s breakfast. In our recall study we tried to understand why by asking people to choose a phrase that best explains their choice. People selected phrases such as easy and convenient (31%), healthy or wholesome (29%) or to socialize or connect (6%).

We were able to gather a number of good, but fairly generic responses.

Rich Details Into WHY

However, the in-the-moment mobile diary provided far more depth. Over four days the same person had breakfast to relax, be social, relax again and finally to energize. We were also able to collect comments to understand the day-to-day changes in motivations and need states. This just couldn’t be done with a snapshot survey relying on memory.

Turns out, very few people had the same motivations and needs every day. Most changed things up considerably.

Digging into Motivations

Because the in-the-moment study asked about meals over four days, we were able to explore higher-level need states as well as deeper dimensions of the need state. Based on psychographic work done by Paul Heylen, 29% of people choose a breakfast because it is better for them, which mirrored findings from the recall study.

After digging deeper to explore “better for me” in more depth, we learned it is about feeling healthy and fit for some (7% for breakfast) and about vitamins and nutrients for others (7% for breakfast and 3% for lunch). Still others care about high-quality ingredients. Without the detail being in-the-moment allowed, we wouldn’t have had such excellent context!

Getting the Most Out Of Your Marketing Budget

Clearly a recall study can be useful to answer general questions and will help guide your next phase of research, but in-the-moment mobile diaries, like ours, can take you deeper to guide business decisions based on true understanding of consumer behavior and emotions.

To see the full findings of this Research-on-Research study, CLICK HERE and download your free copy.

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