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How customers think, feel, and act: The paradigm of business outcomes

Small data collection and analysis unlocks deeper customer understanding and business opportunity

There is an inherent complexity and messiness when it comes
to designing brand experiences. Like humans, what makes for a
compelling experience isn’t static. Each customer has a unique profile
of tendencies and preferences that shape how they think, feel, and
act — meaning that two people can undergo the same experience and
come away with opposing viewpoints. This dynamic is understandably
frustrating for marketers looking to build loyalty, advocacy, and revenue growth for their brand.

In order to accurately measure the perceptions and impact of brand
experience, marketers must seek the truth behind their customers’
evolving expectations. The good news is that understanding the
subconscious impact of brand experience is becoming increasingly
powerful and reliable — improved technology, a vast and variable
array of available customer data, and emerging neuroscience-based
measurement techniques all contribute advancements. However, while marketers are better poised than ever to understand customer behavior, many are left to wonder: 1) what data is the best fit for building a holistic picture of customers, 2) how do I get it, and 3) how do I make it the engine of our decision making?

In March 2019, Forsta commissioned Forrester Consulting to
investigate the motivations underlying consumer decision making. We
asked 522 US consumers to recall and describe how they thought,
felt, and acted throughout a memorable brand experience. We also
conducted a survey of 228 US B2C marketing and customer insights
decision-makers, including 54 CMOs, to gain insight into how they seek
to understand their customers and what key challenges are holding
them back. We found that the way customers think and feel about an
experience can predict how they will act toward a brand. However, B2C companies struggle to gather and operationalize the data that most reliably measure true customer motivation.

Key findings

The way customers think and feel predicts how they act
Understanding how customers think and feel empowers brands to understand the “why” behind business outcomes. The think-feel-act model in our study predicts how changing the way customers think and feel about a brand will increase revenue, advocacy, and loyalty.

Companies have become over-reliant on big data to understand their customers
Brands misconceive which data properly measures how customers think and feel. As a result, 56% of brands say their strategy is informed nearly or fully by big data. This overreliance has led to challenges in customer understanding, technology, and organizational communication.

Small data is better at conveying how customers think and feel
Brands using small data as a basis for their knowledge of how customers think and feel are more likely to say they know why one customer chooses to buy while another doesn’t. They’re also better equipped to avoid or overcome key challenges in the areas of people, process, and technology.

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