In an indus­try pro­ject­ed to reach $9.7 billion by 2030, under­stand­ing con­sumer behav­iour is para­mount. Hill + Knowl­ton, a leading global PR firm, rec­og­nized the need for a robust and effi­cient research method to inform their clien­t’s Cold and Flu remedy mar­ket­ing strategy.


The Chal­lenge: Nav­i­gat­ing Tra­di­tion­al Market Research Limitations

Tra­di­tion­al methods of market research — focus groups and inter­views — often lack depth and can be time-con­sum­ing. As adver­tis­ing tycoon David Ogilvy put it: “People don’t think what they feel, don’t say what they think and don’t do what they say.”

Hill + Knowl­ton needed to test subtle changes in mes­sag­ing across dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­ries to better under­stand what prompts con­sumers to pur­chase certain prod­ucts. Their client, a major health care company, required action­able insights to tailor their mar­ket­ing mes­sages effectively.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Hill + Knowl­ton needed to under­stand how con­sumer pur­chas­ing behav­ior changes in response to dif­fer­ent mes­sages in a real­is­tic, clut­tered phar­ma­cy envi­ron­ment that recre­ates how people engage with mes­sag­ing in the real world. It was also impor­tant to run this study in dif­fer­ent markets, to capture any local dif­fer­ences and max­i­mize validity.

Behavioral sci­en­tists under­stand that focus groups only tell them what people think they think.  There is a world of dif­fer­ence between people’s report­ed inten­tions and how they actu­al­ly behave.


So, what did they do?


The Solu­tion: Har­ness­ing the Power of Gorilla to Measure Real­is­tic Con­sumer Interaction

Hill + Knowl­ton turned to Gorilla, an inno­v­a­tive online experiment builder. Gorilla created a real­is­tic online sim­u­la­tion of a con­sumer journey through a phar­ma­cy. Par­tic­i­pants inter­act­ed with various prod­ucts and digital phar­ma­cists in a virtual envi­ron­ment, pro­vid­ing a rich set of data about cus­tomer inten­tions and behaviors.

The team behind the Gorilla Experiment Builder used a between subject design to test how subtle changes in the wording of mes­sages placed real­is­ti­cal­ly in the phar­ma­cy envi­ron­ment changed behaviour.

We can’t share the final pro­to­col, but we do have per­mis­sion to show this pro­to­type which gives you an idea of what is possible:

We tested eight between subject con­di­tions. Each con­di­tion tested dif­fer­ent mes­sag­ing in the form of an advert or series of adverts placed within the con­sumer journey, but other than that con­di­tions were iden­ti­cal. The mes­sages them­selves dif­fered in what behav­iour­al insights they addressed, from a range of insights we devised by com­bin­ing the latest sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence with the client’s own research. 


Data and Valid­i­ty: Unveil­ing Behavioral Insights Through Reli­able Data

We found that there was vari­a­tion in the per­for­mance of the mes­sages, with some ter­ri­to­ries prompt­ing sig­nif­i­cant increas­es in pur­chas­es com­pared to other plau­si­ble ter­ri­to­ries. There was also some evi­dence for vari­a­tion in the effec­tive­ness of dif­fer­ent mes­sages in dif­fer­ent markets.  These find­ings will be tremen­dous­ly valu­able to our client, who can now adapt mes­sag­ing to dif­fer­ent territories.

Around half of the par­tic­i­pants didn’t notice the mes­sag­ing placed in the scene, which pro­vides evi­dence for the valid­i­ty of the sim­u­la­tion and its ability to repli­cate a noisy and complex phar­ma­cy envi­ron­ment — in real-life, people tend not to con­scious­ly attend to such material. 

The com­bi­na­tions of dif­fer­ent treat­ments par­tic­i­pants chose to put into their baskets (oint­ments, vitamin sup­ple­ments, nasal sprays, multi-symptom solu­tions) repli­cat­ed what had been found pre­vi­ous­ly in con­sumer testing, which is another tes­ta­ment to the valid­i­ty of the method. 


The Results: Gen­er­at­ing Ter­ri­to­ry-Spe­cif­ic, Action­able Insights with Gorilla

With Gorilla, Hill + Knowl­ton dis­cov­ered vari­a­tions in message per­for­mance across ter­ri­to­ries, with some prompt­ing sig­nif­i­cant increas­es in pur­chas­es. The best-per­form­ing message increased pur­chas­es by approx­i­mate­ly 10% com­pared to the worst-per­form­ing message. Given the market size these find­ings were tremen­dous­ly valu­able for their client, allow­ing for informed mar­ket­ing adap­ta­tions based on territory.

In addi­tion, Gorilla pro­vid­ed Hill + Knowl­ton a faster, more robust method to measure the results of the inter­ven­tion. The insights were more action­able than those derived from tra­di­tion­al methods, enabling Hill + Knowl­ton to poten­tial­ly charge a higher price point while incur­ring less cost — using exist­ing, spe­cial­ized soft­ware like the Gorilla Experiment Builder is just cheaper than build­ing new, often single-use software.

Gorilla enables robust behav­iour­al exper­i­ments at a speed and price com­pa­ra­ble to most survey providers.  This is rev­o­lu­tion­ary for us because it gives us access to cus­tomer inten­tions and behav­iour­al insights that you can’t get with survey data. Its flex­i­ble fea­tures and expert devel­op­ers make an enor­mous range of designs and sub­jects pos­si­ble to study, which is key when working across sectors that have dif­fer­ent challenges.
- Dr. Adam Flitton, Chief Behav­iour­al Sci­en­tist at Hill + Knowlton


Don’t put it off: Dis­cov­er whether Gorilla can dra­mat­i­cal­ly enhance your busi­ness within 45 minutes

Gorilla Experiment Builder is the next-gen­er­a­tion online research toolset for behavioral science, empow­er­ing research con­sul­tan­cies to become more time-effi­cient, cost-effec­tive, promi­nent in their market, and ulti­mate­ly, more profitable.

If this sounds com­pelling, book a call with our founder Jo Ever­shed. Togeth­er, you’ll assess whether Gorilla is the right fit for your needs.

PS: Not ready yet? Take a look at what other research con­sul­tan­cies achieved with Gorilla in our com­mer­cial showcase.

Jo Ever­shed

Jo is the CEO and co-founder of Caul­dron and Gorilla. Her mission is to provide behav­iour­al sci­en­tists with the tools needed to improve the scale and impact of the evi­dence-based inter­ven­tions that benefit society.