It’s the week of the UEFA Champions League Final. On Saturday, Manchester United and F.C. Barcelona will meet at Wembley Stadium in London to determine who is the best club in Europe.
It will most probably be the most watched sports event of the year, with even more viewers around the world tuning in then for the Super Bowl. It’s a huge event, a hype and an example of great marketing on the emotional level.
Event sponsor Heineken just released results from a market research study which found that more than half of the men (52%) would prefer watching their team lift the Champions League trophy at the stadium to having a romantic date with supermodel Adriana Lima. And if Adriana Lima isn’t quite your taste: There are more comparisons: 62% would skip their friend’s stag party, 48% would skip an important meeting with the boss and 58% would skip a date with their girlfriend or wife.
Let’s just turn this around: 48% would rather have a date with Adriana Lima than watching the match, while only 42% would rather have a date with their wife or girlfriend. So we might assume that the majority of men would prefer having a date with Adriana Lima to having a date with their wife or girlfriend. From a purely statistical stand point, that reasoning may not always be correct, yet it points into an interesting direction: If you would ask men if they preferred a date with their woman or with Adriana Lima, what do you think how many would go for Lima? I am pretty sure the clear majority would state to prefer their wife or girlfriend.
That’s not unusual, social scientist refer to this as the “compliance bias” – when taking a survey people tend to give answers that are socially desirable. This is a classical bias which also occurs e.g. in job interviews when applicants lie instead of giving answers that might not fit with the expectations or values of the interviewer.
This is the beauty of comparisons: They make questions more complex which makes an “expected” answer less obvious, so complying is not so easy. At the same time they allow to create cross-references via the comparisons, resulting in an unbiased answer to the original question.
In addition to that, comparisons allow determining the perceived value of a product, service, etc. by putting it into relation to another product or service for which the value customers/ consumers attribute to it are already known.
Let’s make this more concrete: Just imagine you were working at UEFA and your boss put you in charge to develop a pricing concept for Champions League Final tickets. What would you do?
You could just use the prices they charged last year, but have they been set the right way? Maybe, maybe not. You could just ask some potential visitors how much they would be prepared to pay for a ticket. Most probably they would tell you less than they would actually be prepared to.
Or you could ask using a comparison: Would you prefer a date with Adriana Lima, a ticket to the Champions League final, 500 Dollars in cash or a date with you wife/ girlfriend and 200 Dollars in cash?
You did realize the twist: The comparisons can be altered and bundled. That’s what makes comparisons such a powerful tool. E.g. the statistical method of Conjoint Analysis is built on this idea: You don’t ask participants how important a certain attribute is for them, instead you create bundles of attributes and ask them to rank these bundles.
Example: Please rank the following soccer matches according to how much you would like to be in the stadium to see them live:
A: Champions League Final in London between Barcelona and Manchester
B: World Cup Final in South Africa between Spain and Holland
C: Champions League Final in Madrid between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich
D: World Cup Quarter Final in London between England and Spain
This is rather simplified, but it gives you an idea that with a sufficient number of answers it will be possible to gain insights into the value e.g. London as the venue of the match creates. In real life, this tool is often used in product development (which features really matter for the customer?) or price setting.
More general, comparisons give you a good idea on the preferences your customers have. This can be used in many areas and you don’t have to run a complex conjoint analysis. I’m sure you have been subject to this a million times before, maybe even without realizing it: You buy apples at the farmer’s market. The farmer offers you one pack for five dollars or two for nine with an additional pack of tomatoes on top. Which bundle would you prefer?
Comparisons allow us to better display the value of a product or service to our customer. Therefore you can perfectly use it for complex products or services or parts of your offering. “You can pay 1000 Dollars now or 1030 in a month”. In theory this looks like an easy choice, but if your customer is maybe short of cash and not having a perfect relationship with the bank at the moment, it may help you to explore and also display the value a complex thing like a payment condition represents for you customer.
Comparisons are everywhere, they are simple but they can give great insights. I found thinking in comparisons and offering them to others as extremely valuable. And it’s so easy as examples are all around us. Why don’t you start looking out for them this week? You’ll be surprised how many of them you find.
And on Saturday, enjoy the match. Or your date. And best regards to Adriana…