The Tale Of Two Soggy Ladies

In this Thursday night insight David Ward discusses the curious behavior of humans and what drives their decisions.

We’re a funny bunch we humans. We’re really rather strange at times. We make decisions that often leave me baffled. That’s not to say I’m flawless. Far from it. I probably make decisions and do things that seem equally as unfathomable to other people. However, what I saw today really was odd.

Picture the scene if you will. A very rainy, dark and unfriendly looking night in Bramhall. Cars, with their headlights dazzling in the gloom, splashing water up on to the pavement as they went through puddles that had been growing throughout the day. Across the road from work stood two women. One was looking wet and a little fed up. The other looked wetter and even more fed up.

They were trying in vain to cross the road. Maybe they were on their way home from a hard day’s work. Perhaps they were heading to the pub for a restorative tipple. Whatever the destination they seemed in limbo. Stuck between having one foot on the road to start to cross back to having both feet on the pavement going nowhere. So far all seems fairly normal. This scene gets a little unfathomable when I tell you that 10 yards to the left of them is a crossing that when the big button on the lights is pushed the traffic will magically stop allowing a safe and speedy crossing.

What was it that made these two ladies decide it was preferable to stand in the rain trying to cross a busy road than to walk 10 yards and push a button?

I’m actually shaking my head in disbelief as I write this contribution to the Thursday Night Insight feature of the B2B International website. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out something comes along that doesn’t quite fit what you thought you knew. Logically you would have thought that faced with the choice of either navigating across a busy road and getting out of the rain by using a pelican crossing, or standing in the rain like a drowned rat failing to go anywhere, the decision would be a foregone conclusion. The pelican gets it every time. After tonight’s demonstration I have been shown that the logical path isn’t always the one to be chosen.

At B2B International we spend a lot of our time looking at what drives decisions in various different markets, and fitting respondents into segments based on their behaviour. Sometimes, after analysing the data or transcripts of an interview you think you have the themes or story of the research formulated when out of the blue comes something different. Something equally valid but slightly out of the ordinary. We need to always keep an open mind when conducting research. Just as our customers keep an open mind when commissioning a project. They don’t assume they know everything there is to know about their customers. After all, just when you think you’ve seen it all, two soggy ladies from Bramhall come along. Without the research, you just never know.

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