Projective techniques probe below the surface of a consumer's cognizant behaviors, preferences, and motivations. These techniques are premised on the belief that con sumers in the marketplace are motivated by desires they do not know and cannot express consciously. To access these motivations, the technique, in effect, removes the question from the person through interpretation of abstract stimuli or pictures, sentence or story completion, questions about what their neighbor would consider most important in selecting a given product, descriptions of the personality of a consumer who would select a given product or grouping of products, and so on. Through techniques such as these the consumer unwittingly expresses her or his own underlying motivations while responding on the basis of stimuli, sentences, or other individuals.
Historically, projective techniques have been very meaningful in designing advertising campaigns to effectively move beyond a marketing problem or roadblock. When Duncan Hines introduced a cake mix that required only adding water, it sat quietly on supermarket shelves. Pro-jective techniques revealed the guilt homemakers felt at baking a cake so easily, and the product was reformulated to require adding an egg. Similar projective techniques have been useful in revealing and overcoming resistances in a wide variety of product areas including microwave dinners and instant coffee, to name but a few.
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