Back to News List


3 reasons why clients don’t take actions off the back of research

January 13th, 2021

There have been significant efforts by many research agencies to understand how behavioural science / economics can help us to better understand and influence consumers, physicians and other groups. However, much less knowledge has been translated regarding how we can improve the chances our research findings will be understood - and crucially - acted on by clients.

Below are 3 reasons why clients may not be taking actions off the back of your research:

1. Most simply of all, despite what you think (and what they, politely, say) you may not actually have told your client anything NEW: a combination of risk aversion and confirmation bias - on the part of both client and research agency – may have led to the key findings simply being a validation of the client’s existing beliefs.

2. However, it’s also possible you’ve told them TOO MUCH: “choice overload” occurs as a result of too many choices being available, with a common outcome being inaction. You may have thought you were over-delivering but the client may be left not being able to “see the wood for the trees”.

3. Finally, and most subtly, your key insights / recommendations may be TOO DIFFERENT from how the client currently, and historically, has thought about the problem. The “backfire effect” occurs when people reject new evidence that “should” cause them to doubt their beliefs - instead strengthening their original stance. If your insights and recommendations are “fresh” – yet deviate too radically from how the client has (often for years or even decades) thought about the problem – there’s a strong chance they’ll be quickly discarded.

By incorporating knowledge from behavioural science into the creation of research insights and recommendations, we can increase the likelihood that findings will be acted on. This will not only help clients’ businesses, but also help agencies build stronger and deeper connections with them.

Chris Harvey
Founder, Activate Research