Consumer Devices and Apps May Unlock Door to Measuring Unconscious Emotions
Marc Dresner, IIR
John Havens is on to something
that marketers and consumer researchers should pay close attention to, because
the implications for insights work are huge.
This trend gets to the very essence of consumer intelligence and it may be the wave of the future…only it’s happening now.
The research isn’t
being conducted by consumer researchers; this research is being conducted by
consumers, themselves, for themselves.
Havens’author of ‘Hacking H(app)iness:
Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking
it Can Change the World’ and founder of the H(app)athon Project–is on a
mission to help people objectively take
stock of their lives using data they collect about themselves, and to then adjust
their behaviors, lifestyles and priorities according to what those data tell
‘Hacking H(app)iness involves using the devices and
technologies we interact with every day to track, understand and
optimize every aspect of our lives’
‘Hacking H(app)iness involves using the devices and technologies around
us that we interact with every day to track, understand and
optimize every aspect of our lives,’ Havens said.
‘We don’t always know how we are feeling,’ Havens remarked.
‘The data we can collect about ourselves on our smartphones, using apps and through other devices can serve as a proxy for our emotions and help us to improve our overall ‘wellbeing’ and quality of life,’ he added.
‘We don’t always know how we are feeling’Data
we can collect about ourselves on smartphones using apps can serve as a proxy
for our emotions.’
It’s based on the science of
positive psychology. After all, Havens is about hacking happiness, not misery’a thoroughly noble pursuit to be sure.
But after conducting an
interview with Havens for the Research Insighter podcast series, yours truly
has honestly been preoccupied with the potential applications and implications
for consumer researchers.
So I hope you’ll forgive me
if I focus less attention than I should on the potential benefit to mankind and
more on the possibility that consumers may figure out a way to harness Big Data
before those of us in marketing do.
You’re probably familiar
with the ‘Quantified Self’ movement taking the healthcare and wellness
industries by storm.
It’s generally associated
with using sensor technology in smartphones and wearable devices (think Fitbit)
to track and analyze physiological and other health-related data: heart rate,
blood pressure, exercise, etc.
selfies’ will tell you that monitoring one’s own blood pressure, pulse and the
like barely scratches the surface of the quantified self movement.
And they’re right.
The Quantified Self movement is in many respects the gamification of self improvement.
In many respects, the Quantified Self movement this is the
gamification of self improvement.
Some devotees’there are clubs
of them sprouting up all over (New York has a ‘chapter’)’monitor their
cognitive functioning, blood oxygen levels’even the quality of the very air in
the room they’re breathing.
And they don’t stop there.
Want to know how well you
sleep at night? You need not necessarily spend a night in a medical sleep
center; you can do it yourself at home in your own bed without a bunch of
clinicians watching you thrash around in your sheets from behind glass.
Not all of these data are
What you ate for lunch, for
example, and its nutritional content needs to be manually entered, but that’ll
get easier fast. (Watch for barcodes next to menu items in restaurants that can
be scanned to your smartphone to track your diet.)
Technology that was only accessible to healthcare professionals, the
military, law enforcement, etc., is now becoming commercially available to everyday consumers.
The point is that much of
this, Havens points out, is possible because technology that was until recently
only accessible to healthcare professionals, the military, law enforcement,
etc., is now becoming commercially available to everyday consumers.
For example, he noted there’s
an app available for download that accurately reads your heart rate by just pointing
your smartphone’s camera at your face.
devices don’t even have to be touching
us to collect this data,’ Havens emphasized.
This type of stuff was
formerly the domain of agents scoping out potential terrorists in airports.
And there are other equally
sophisticated, albeit less sexy data collection technologies that are also
making their way into the hands of everyday folks.
DIY online tracking? The data collection and analytics tools marketers
use are making their way into the hands of average folks.
I’m talking about the data
collection and analytics tools marketers use.
Think do-it-yourself online tracking’the
activity, time spent, sites visited, Google searches, etc.
What could this information
tell us about ourselves?
I recently attended IIR’s
Media Insights and Engagement
conference’a sister event to the Future of Consumer Intelligence
, which sponsors this blog’and I can tell you media
researchers are quite keen on getting at cross-platform media consumption data
(not just programming content, but social and any other “media,” too’all of it).
Meanwhile, Havens in his
book proposes that you and I’wearing our Joe Consumer hats’might benefit from looking
at how much time we spend playing Candy Crush, streaming YouTube videos,
Facebooking, listening to MP3s, bidding on eBay auctions, etc.
Now where am I going to get
my tablet, my desktop computer…Eureka!
So what would I do with this information?
hacking is like looking at a monthly credit card statement…You can see what you truly value based on where you spent your money.
Havens compares it to
looking at one’s monthly credit card statement (something else I happen to have
access to, coincidentally).
a credit card statement, you can see what you truly value because there is a list of
what you put your money toward in the past month,’ he told the Research
you know you really like music if you see that you’ve downloaded a ton of it.
maybe it’s a lot of pornography that you’ve been downloading?
where the positive change comes into play.
you ask someone what really matters to them in life, they’ll tell you things
like family time,’ said Havens.
what if you had objective data about how you live your life? If you could track
the things that you claim’that you believe’are important to you’? he asked.
If you could track the things that you believe are important to you, on paper the actual data might suggest otherwise.
might find that actually, according to the data, we don’t really value those
things’at least that’s how it looks on paper. And we can make a change,’ Havens said.
I’m not going to suggest
that this stuff is going to make online surveys look primitive, like leaching’but
you must admit Havens has a point.
Self-reported behavior isn’t
And self-reported feelings?
So much attention and investment is
being devoted to unlocking the unconscious emotional motivations that drive consumer
behavior in the research community for good reason.
‘My hope is that these tools
will allow people the opportunity to improve their wellbeing by making
decisions based on real data, knowing things about themselves that they might not otherwise be
aware of,’ said Havens.
Now tell me the research
community shouldn’t pay attention to this.
Editor’s note: John Havens will deliver a keynote titled, ‘Hacking
Happiness: How to Give Big Data a Direction’ at the Future of Consumer Intelligence conference taking place May
19-21 in San Francisco.