Background Note | HBS Case Collection | October 2001 (Revised March 2002)

Implicit Predictors of Consumer Behavior

by Gerald Zaltman, Nancy Puccinelli, Kathryn A. Braun and Fred W Mast PHD


An important distinction is drawn in psychology between explicit and implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge refers to consciously held beliefs about an individual or object that often draws on the remembering of experiences in the past. In contrast, implicit knowledge refers to the cognitive associations a consumer holds between two constructs that exist outside his or her conscious awareness. Although it is possible that explicit and implicit knowledge correspond, the exciting opportunity for marketers is that often there is a discrepancy; that is, what a consumer believes explicitly may have no bearing on his or her actual behavior.

Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Values and Beliefs; Knowledge Sharing; Consumer Behavior; Opportunities; Cognition and Thinking;


Zaltman, Gerald, Nancy Puccinelli, Kathryn A. Braun, and Fred W Mast PHD. "Implicit Predictors of Consumer Behavior." Harvard Business School Background Note 502-043, October 2001. (Revised March 2002.)