Like many of you, deciding what to eat for dinner can be an ordeal for me and my family. It’s silly because we have the same conversation all the time, and the same question pops up… “Well, what are you in the mood for?” Should we get Italian? Eh, I’m not in the mood for that. How about tacos? Ehh, I’m not in the mood for that either. Ohh, how about Pho! Yep, that’s it!
As an analyst, I can’t help but question my own thought processes and decision making. Why is choosing a food so difficult at times? How do I find my way to a certain choice? What does “in the mood for” even mean when deciding on dinner plans?
That last question is one that really stands out. There’s an emotional aspect of every decision we make, and many times it’s subconscious. When making a group decision, like what to eat, we’re seeking alignment for emotions that we can’t put a finger on – and likely aren’t even aware of. We don’t stop to think, what’s making me lean toward Pho rather than tacos? We just feel it when we hear it, and that’s reason enough. Frankly, probably because it’s just a relief to have finally decided so let’s not ask any more questions.
But again, I’m an analyst. So, I can’t help but ask more questions and dig into the why.
My first thought is that our food-mood is attached to the way we feel during and after the meal. Certain foods are more fun than others and feel like a special treat. Whether it’s the atmosphere at a restaurant or some emotional connection from past experiences, our decision driver could have little to do with the food itself. Another thought is that biological factors come into play. Water tastes and feels better going down when we’re parched than it does at other times. So, maybe our bodies are craving certain nutrients and that subconsciously affects our decision. I suppose it could also be advertising. We saw a commercial or social media post of a glamourized burger and that planted the seed of need.
I bring this up because, well, it’s kind of funny. The dinner decision is something we all experience, yet rarely do we stop to think about why it’s happening. But also, this is a relevant matter for brands and businesses. We want to craft and communicate our value propositions in ways that align with customer wants and needs. But how do we do that if the customers themselves are unaware of their own decision drivers?
In our world of customer insights, this is something we think about a lot. One approach we’ve found effective is within feedback surveys. If decision making is more emotional than logical, then the questions we ask should mirror that. We frame topics within a narrative or story-driven context. The response options we provide have elements of humor or relatability rather than being dry and literal. If we can evoke emotion through the way we present questions and responses, it can put the survey taker in a different mindset than a traditional survey might. And by shifting the mindset from logical to emotional, we tap into those emotional decision drivers that aren’t always top-of-mind.
I encourage you to discuss this with your team the next time you’re building a customer feedback survey. Look for ways to go beyond what’s logical and literal, because many times our decisions are driven by subconscious emotions. Also, bring this up with the group next time you’re deciding your food-mood. It might expedite the decision-making process. If nothing else, it will be good for a laugh!