Motivation Research and How It Is Used

People discussing motivational market research results

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While many types of research look at what people do, motivation research looks at why they do it. This information on the motives driving human behavior is used in marketing, social sciences and a variety of fields where understanding and influencing behavior are important.
Understanding why people act in certain ways can be difficult, especially since many people do not truly understand their own motives.

Motivation research attempts to identify the forces behind the behavior, especially consumer behavior. For instance, why do certain trends take off while others flop? Why do certain age groups spend money differently than others? Consumer behavior is affected by conscious and unconscious motives, economic needs, cultural factors and a variety of variables. Motivation research attempts to deconstruct complex behaviors so they can be understood and even influenced.   

Differences in Motivation Research

There are several factors that set motivation research apart from other types of research. Rather than occurring in a lab, motivation research is usually based on a focus group, interviews, and simple observation. In a focus group, a researcher leads a group of the people being studied in activities and discussions that reveal their feelings and motivations. In-depth interviews are similar but deal with each person individually. Simple observation can also be a powerful tool as people may behave differently in real life than in a research setting.  

Because people are often unaware of their own motivations, each study must be designed to extract truths and encourage reflection. It is very important for the research team to be empathetic, nonjudgmental and skilled at getting people to talk honestly. After data is collected, researchers then must be able to look at it without bias and make inferences about the motivations behind the studied behaviors. This type of research requires a great deal of skill and understanding of human psychology.  

Motivation Research Techniques

There are four popular techniques used when it comes to motivation research, they include: 

1. Non-disguised Structured Technique

This technique utilizes a standard questionnaire that collects data on belief and feelings. It's arranged beforehand and the researcher discloses the objective and purpose of the survey to the participant. This is the most widely used technique when it comes to market research.  

2. Non-disguised Non-Structured Technique

This technique questions are not necessarily arranged in a strategic order, the questions are more free-flowing. The questions can be asked in any order that the research sees fit. The participant is aware of the purpose of the information being collected.  

3. Disguised Non-Structured Technique

In the same way that the non-disguised non-structured techniques work, the questions are not in a strategic order and the questions are free-flowing. Unlike the non-disguised non-structured techniques, the participant is not aware of the purpose of the information being collected.  

4. Disguised Structured Technique

This technique uses questions in a pre-arranged order, much like the non-disguised structured technique, but using this method the participant is not aware of the purpose of the information being collected.  

The types of questions in the above techniques can vary from closed-ended questions, open-ended questions, mail surveys, telephone surveys, in-person interviews,  

How Motivation Research Helps Marketing

There are several ways motivation research helps marketers. It allows them to understand why people may or may not buy their product, allowing them to tailor marketing. In addition, it can help in identifying a target audience for different products and services. Last, this form of research can help in branding as it allows marketers to see what will catch the attention and loyalty of their ideal customers.   

Motivation research is becoming increasingly important, especially in marketing and branding. There is no need to guess what will make a market happy; researchers instead can develop a more scientific and likely more successful approach. While human behavior was once a mystery, motivation research is deconstructing it by approaching the subject in a scientific and logical manner.