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Beware of revisionism

In a presentation given to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Strategy Conference in 2005, Wendy Gordon, co-founder and brand researcher of Acacia Avenue, talked about the “Iceberg of resistance”. By this she meant that people are clearly affected by emotional brand influences that they may be either unwilling to acknowledge or unaware of at a conscious level.

Resistance to a brand can take many forms and be for many reasons, but when the brand-owners attempt research into this they may not always discover the right ones. Interviewees or focus group participants will often post-justify their response to a brand to make it appear more logical and more rational than the emotions which governed their initial response. Wendy Gordon's metaphor refers to the seven eighths of hidden response that lie beneath the surface of any research interviewees answers.

Good researchers are evidently aware of this and will have the techniques to try and counter it in attitudinal surveys that try to discover consumers' real attitudes to the brands and products they buy and the services they consume.