Yesterday I posted a problem to demonstrate the difficulty of understanding some purchasing behaviors.
Here was the problem:
I get The New York Times delivered to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area every morning. Yet when I'm on the road, I don't buy The Times on Mondays or Tuesdays. I do buy it, however, on Wednesdays through Sundays.Before the answer, an observation.
Pretend you're a marketing strategist, and see if you can come up with a logical explanation for this purchasing behavior.
While most of our purchasing behavior is done for obvious reasons, we each have little quirks that are very difficult for a strategist to intuit or even discover.
For example, there are restaurants I go to not because I like the food, but because I like the bread or the bar. There are also restaurants I avoid whose food I like, but whose bathrooms stink. Likewise, there are a number of categories I participate in in which my behavior is due mainly to personal quirks. I am sure we each have some of these.
The point is, it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that data has all the answers. There are always personal behaviors that are not easily explained by anything other than knowing the person.
Now to The New York Times mystery.
The answer is this. I get most of my news on line, not from the newspaper. I get the newspaper for basically three reasons: the sports section, the business section, and the crossword puzzle.
The Times has a terrible sports section so I don't read it for that. The business section is very good, but not compelling. The primary reason I get The Times is the crossword puzzle.
The Times crossword puzzle gets tougher as the week goes on. Monday and Tuesday are not challenging for me; Wednesday starts to be a challenge; Thursday is usually pretty difficult and contains a trick to it; Friday and Saturday are killers; Sunday is about as hard as Thursday, but it's big so it's fun.
So the explanation is, I don't buy The Times on Monday or Tuesday because the crossword is too easy. It's highly unlikely that this behavior is representative of anyone but me. Nonetheless, I think it demonstrates that synthesizing a correct explanation for a purchasing behavior - when not obvious - can be a tricky business.
Kudos, and a free beer, to Adam and DuBoisterous, who nailed it, and also to Vinny Warren and Charlotte, who made me laugh.