FEATURE18 August 2022

Doing what you say: Online behaviour and research

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Behavioural science Features Impact Trends

People’s recollections of their actions are often inaccurate compared with their observed behaviours. Liam Kay looks at the data ‘say-do’ gap that can be found in surveys.

Small man staring at big gap

What did you do yesterday? Or the day before that? Can you recall your actions on 11 February 2021? If not, why would you assume a consumer can?

Survey data in market research can sometimes fail to capture the information that companies desire, looking at people’s faulty recollections of past behaviours rather than observed actions, and using that as the basis of future analysis. The ‘say-do gap’ has been observed in numerous settings, in the physical retail world and in online shopping – but can it be measured?

Customer experience firm Disqo set out to measure the say-do gap across three shopping categories: automobiles, travel and groceries. The result was the report Mind the Gap, published earlier this year. The three categories were chosen because of the variety in typical purchase cost and frequency, which the company expected to impact the accuracy of respondent recall when asked about their purchasing behaviour.

The research used Disqo’s consumer insights platform to survey a nationally representative sample ...