From Machu Picchu to mobile market research- understanding human motivations

by DJI

Having just returned from Peru where I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I couldn’t help but identify with George Loewenstein’s post on mountaineering and marketing (see link below). I never quite appreciated the tales of others who had experienced the effects of altitude and exhaustion until I went through it myself. On the other hand, I learned much about myself in the process and am a different person because of the experience. My stories and recollections about the trip are different today than they would have been during, or right after the hike.

View of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the clouds...

While the mountaineering analogy provides some key insights into human behavior that are useful for marketers, it also holds lessons for qualitative researchers. We are responsible for capturing and interpreting reported behavior from respondents, but as this post outlines, the experiences they recount are likely incomplete and even inaccurate. Perhaps this provides additional support for the value in capturing behavior “in the moment” as the new mobile market research methodologies allow. I am also reminded of the value of deprivation techniques (e.g. asking respondents to go without coffee for a week before a research study on coffee) in really understanding human coping and adaptive mechanisms, as well as motivations for consumption behavior. We often don’t know what we are made of until we are pushed outside our comfort zones.