Uncharted Waters at Ventoso Ship Supply: A Sensory Marketing Dilemma (A)
This is a three-part, disguised case series. In June 2009, Diana Zanzi was hired by Ventoso Ship Supply, an Italian sailboat manufacturer, to help them understand their boats' puzzling selling patterns. Zanzi was informed that sales rates for two higher-end boat models were especially odd. Despite one's superior technical specifications, speed, amenities, and overall value-for-money, their higher end models were hard to sell. However, a lower-quality boat was sold at an astonishing rate. Existing survey work conducted by the company only served to confirm the rational assumption that customers generally preferred more technically advanced sailboats; as such, the survey would not solve the mystery. Tasked with solving this mystery, Zanzi was given the contact information for Ventoso's roster of potential customers and asked to conduct her own interviews to discover what could possibly explain customers' preferences when acquiring sailboats. Zanzi was told that consumers may not be consciously aware of how they choose sailboats, and so she needed to figure out a good method to understand these unconscious preferences. In part A of the series, the reader is faced with the task of designing a test that might reveal buyers' sailing-related thoughts. For instance, what should Zanzi ask consumers to understand their implicit and unconscious perceptions of the ideal sailboat? More importantly, the reader is invited to consider when and why such a tool is needed. In other words, what marketing technique should we use when consumers don't seem to be fully aware of their decision process?