Do You Know Your Customers’ “Why?” You Should

I remember when my kids were younger, they went through the “why?” phase. Days were filled with “why?” this and “why?” that. Each of my answers was met with another adorable, “But whyyyy?” A “curious kid” asks on average 73 questions a day. (Thank goodness for Google!) What I also realized as a parent was that this was strengthening my kids’ brains and they were forming their values and belief system and what will be important to them in all aspects of their lives.

In many ways, I’m still trying to answer that question, but this time Google doesn’t have the answers. The why I now answer is for brands and organizations that need to figure out the why behind consumer decisions for the sake of growing their business. You want to know why people love your brand, why they choose a competitor over you, why they once shopped at your store but now they don’t, why they buy specific products online and others in store. The list goes on.

Getting at the why is incredibly complex. People are complicated, and they, along with the marketplace, change regularly. Brand marketers must contend with several layers of why to understand a consumer’s buying decisions. It can range from the pragmatic why, which is based on things like price and convenience, to the why inspired by political and social movements. You have generational differences that affect the why, as well as why’s that can be applied to specific industries that even get down to product and feature levels. People buy Samsung phones because of their camera, and when Apple improved its camera, the company spent millions to keep people from leaving and acquire traditional Samsung buyers.

Traditionally, the only way to get at the why was to ask consumers directly through surveys. But let’s be honest, the traditional survey approach won’t scale and it isn’t very actionable. Understanding a different layer of the person’s behavior, along with surveying them with carefully crafted questions, is the only way it works. At Resonate, we ask more U.S. consumers why than any other company on the planet. While we are asking the person to describe themselves and the many layers of why, we also understand their daily digital footprint and correlate that back to the many levels of why that make up the consumers, voters and members’ decisions. For example, this enables us to uncover not just the 3,000 people from first-party survey data who plan to switch banks because they want lower interest rates, but the exact 2 million people in the U.S. who are switching due to low interest rates and maps them to what banks they currently use and how to find those people on all channels.

So while a brand may know about their current customers inside their firewalls, they know very little about those people outside their firewalls—what makes them tick and what channels are they on? Who are the prospects I can engage with efficiently and get their “why” message into my advertisement on any of my channels to make that emotional connection, move them to conversion faster and form a lasting bond? Getting at and connecting the why at scale is the next wave of growth and efficiency for our marketing industry. The Resonate Platform provide this type of deep consumer understanding.


Consumer insights are incredibly valuable to a company. According to Forrester, insights-driven firms on average grow more than 30% annually and are on track to earn $1.8 trillion by 2021.

Brands that have used Resonate’s person-level insights to uncover the what that drives the why have been able to segment their audiences more strategically and deliver the right kind of messaging and creative to the right audiences.

Resonate’s easy-to-use SaaS platform provides a unified view of the consumer no matter what’s driving their why. We start by distilling the Human Element, which is a holistic understanding of a person that starts with what makes us the most human—our values and motivations.


Values and motivations are just one piece of the why puzzle. Here are the different ways we drill down into the different why layers:

The Pragmatic Why

In looking at the top 5 why’s people choose to bank where they bank, it’s clear that their focus is on convenience and financial perks.

#1 Free checking

#2 Online banking

#3 Convenience of branches

#4 Interest rates on loans

#5 Good reputation

What’s at the bottom of the pragmatist’s list is loan availability, short lines and recommendations.

The Generational Why

In looking at the two largest generations of people and why they shop where they shop, we see some pretty significant differences but also some surprising similarities.

Baby boomers and millennials similarly:

  • Value best prices and sales
  • Shop at stores with larger product selections
  • Gravitate to retailers with loyalty programs

Where they differ:

  • Baby boomers prefer stores with knowledgeable staff, easy return policies and convenient locations.
  • Millennials instead value fast and responsive staff and enjoyable/clean stores.
The Social Movement Why

Consumers are as passionate about saving money as they are about doing business with companies that align with their politics or social causes. Resonate’s insights reveal that people do align their shopping preferences with their views on social issues. Here are a few examples:

  • People who support the LGBT community and marriage equality are 12% less likely than the overall population to eat at Chick-Fil-A, which has faced criticism for its financial support of efforts to ban the legalization of same-sex marriage. Out of the 17 fast-food restaurants, we asked this audience about in our surveys, Chick-Fil-A ranked as one they frequent the least.
  • People who support companies that reduce their energy use and their packaging are more likely to shop at brands known for being environmentally friendly, such as REI, Patagonia and Timberland. This segment was 124% more likely than the overall population to purchase Patagonia products, 115% more likely to shop for Timberland products and 37% more likely to shop at REI.
The Actionable Vertical Why

The Resonate Platform can also uncover many of the actionable why’s important to specific verticals such as financial services or retail. One of the most valuable insights is knowing why people may be switching a bank or why they’re switching their insurance provider. Here are some of our latest insights:

Top 3 Why’s People Are Switching Banks:

#1 More convenient locations

#2 Better online and mobile banking services

#3 Better customer service

Top 3 Why’s People Are Switching Insurance Providers:

#1 New car or home

#2 Rate increase

#3 Seeking better service

Top 5 Why’s People Shop at Amazon:

#1 Best prices and sales

#2 Products are cost effective

#3 Products are high quality

#4 Convenient locations

#5 Larger product selection

As you can see, the why behind a consumer’s purchasing decisions can range from price to how they feel about the environment. It’s complex, and it changes constantly, but the Resonate Platform is successfully helping brands uncover the many layers of the why and shaping their strategies for solving for one why versus another why.

Want to uncover your brand’s why? Reach out to Resonate for a demo.

Categorized as: Blog Page, Consumer Insights, Brand

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