Do We Consumers Know What We Want?

Early 1980's U.S. 12 oz. "Pepsi Challenge...

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Surely, that’s a stupid question.

In the rise of social media, in the information age, there is nothing that consumers do not know, nor could find out.

Of course we know what we want. The information is out there. The power- therefore the influence- is in our hands. The power of Choice has finally shifted, at last, to the consumer.


Perhaps it is the academia speaking, but I find it quite hard to believe that people truly understand what they want. From the conscious and unconscious forces that act on us every day, I cannot agree with the notion that today’s consumer knows exactly what they want, and why they want it. Or perhaps, they know what they want, but the reason they put forth doesn’t match the action(s).

If I’m wrong, then buyer’s remorse is pretty much extinct. Cognitive dissonance is a dream and halo effects and other survey error elements can be erased from a marketer’s toolbox.

In a section of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, there is a discussion about the Pepsi Challenge, and about how people choose products based on package, and not necessarily the actual attributes of the product.

But of course, if it is mentioned in today’s environment that us humans aren’t actually in total control of our conscious, and that our explanations of our actions may be faulty, one shouldn’t expect that opinion to be welcomed with open arms and ears.

After reading this far, I’m sure you already know my stance on the title question.

What say you?


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