Issue No. 48 - August/September 2009
Can online behaviour predict sales?
by Dr David Corkindale and Dr David Corkindale
Is it possible to predict accurately who will win a performance competition, on TV, like dancing and singing, where it is decided by viewers’ votes? The answer is yes.
If this is the case, can we also use the same method to predict sales? Again, the answer is yes. So, what is the method?
Behaviour predicts behaviour .
In market research studies it is always much easier, and the answers more reliable, if you ask people about what they have done rather than what they might do. What people search for online tells us what people are interested in, what their needs are and, particularly, what their problems are. It is a good measure of people’s intentions or the solutions they are looking for.
For instance, those who search for information on the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ and/or ‘Hotels in Cairns’ are intending to go there, if they can.
Companies like Google or Hitwise, which have the records of what millions of people are searching for online, can predict future mass behaviour as they have got data on the leading indicators to future behaviour. Searches for ‘Diet’ precede those for ‘Bikini’ by a set period.
If more people are searching for ‘savings advice’ and we are the government just having handed out a financial stimulus to everyone, we should not be surprised if many people save it rather than spend it -this was predictable.
In the book Click1, Bill Tancer, the GM of Global Research for Hitwise, explains how his company successfully predicts the winners of US TV shows like American Idol by looking at the volume of searches for the various contestants – whoever is searched for most ends up the winner.
When is the best time to advertise a particular product or service? This would be not only when people buy them but when they are doing their homework which is increasingly when they search for information on them. This could be several months in advance of the purchase.
Although physical ret...