How did I get here – Unravelling the Subconscious


How did I get here – Unravelling the Subconscious

Have you ever got to work or home in the car and think ‘How did I get here?’ Was I awake driving the car?  You hopefully were, so don’t panic – this feeling of memory lapse is because you went into ‘Auto-pilot’ or ‘Subconscious’ mode.

Conscious actions are the actions we take on an awareness level – where we are fully aware of our choices, experiences and surroundings.  However, for habitual patterns we can often lapse into the subconscious awareness level, which means our actions are the things we do without thinking or contemplating – we just do them automatically.

This poses quite a challenge for researchers and marketers who want to understand the consumer / shopper journey particularly in areas like grocery shopping where people are often set to auto-pilot mode.  Shoppers themselves find it hard to articulate why they buy certain brands beyond ‘habit’ or ‘it’s what my mam bought’!

Therefore, we need to adopt clever ways to reach beyond the subconscious, whether that be disruptive marketing, or disruptive research techniques.

Behaviour modification is a great way to allow us understand what makes shoppers behave the way they do – forcing them to do something differently to put the ‘awareness’ switch back on.  Asking them to live through a new journey enables them to realise what they feel and what they ‘actually’ do.  This could be a simple as a forced brand change e.g. buy x instead of y, or asking them to do a full shop in a retailer they don’t normally shop in.

There are other techniques that can be used, such as, heightening their awareness levels by giving them missions.  Simple things like making them ‘brand spies’ in the lead up to a face to face research session, making them take note of where a brand / competitor is present or seen in any form.

There is comfort in the automatic, but at times we all need a jolt out of auto-pilot to experience things differently.


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