The Consumer Insight based research is designed to reveal valuable information about consumers to facilitate, promote and guide strategic decisions in marketing and business. Consumer Insights techniques read "between the lines” and “make non-obvious connections”. It involves the use of innovative research tools and insights generating techniques.
Some common characteristics of consumer insights techniques:
- Taking advantage from consumers curiosity & openness to other ideas.
- Tolerating ambiguity and diversity and working with imperfect ‘data’
- Making connections, using associations tests.
- Fostering the ability to "see beyond the obvious" to see what others can not see, to explore the perceptions, motivations, attitudes and expectations of consumers and customers.
- Greater need to understand the psychology of consumer behavior.
- Involving clients in the insights generating process
The following is a brief selection of strategic consumer insights techniques and methodologies based on my own experience as a market research director and consumer insight consultant.
Consumer Insights In-depth: qualitative interviews that are specially recommended to dig deeper on consumer’s needs, desires, expectations and motivations. Projective techniques represent key elements of this process. Participants are asked to do an assignment prior to attending the interview, such as completing a self-observation workbook or taking photographs of objects that are important in their lives.
Consumer Insights Groups: synergic groups that allow you to deliver actionable insights that represent consumer’s deep beliefs, feelings or behaviors. They use ‘creative thinking tools’ to drive participants to share their beliefs and “think outside the box”. Engage respondents in an open, critical and creative dialogue. More information about consumer insights groups in previous posts.
Enabling Techniques: allow consumers to go beyond the traditional logic thinking (social desirable thinking) with appropriate questions and twists. Instead of asking directly, the insight researcher used indirect associations. It is used to look for new directions and a fresh perspective on already known topics. Example: “What do you like/dislike most about eating in a fast-food? What would make it better? What’s the worst thing about the way fast food stores are laid out? How would you redesign them?”
Projective Techniques: Indirect and unstructured methods of research that allow consumers to reveal unconscious feelings & thinkings. Usually elicit irrational and emotional deep beliefs and emotions. Typical projective techniques are association, completion tasks, analogy and construction techniques (role playing, psycho-drawing).
Semiotic analysis: discovering uncover meanings and new dimensions of current concepts, products, services and behaviors. Is a rigorous analysis of the characteristics of a particular discourse (verbal & visual) whether it be snacks, health or telecommunications.
Profiling & Psychographics: describing consumers in terms of values, lifestyles, activities, interests and opinions.
Deprivation & Inundation Tests: how to find real value proposition after 3 or 4 weeks deprivation in heavy users or loyal consumers, or after 3 or 4 weeks of induced usage. The use of both techniques allows you to compare insights between those who were deprived and those who were inundated.
Ethnographic Safaris (consumer immersions): taking advantage of being in the consumers "habitat" (suburbs, neighborhoods, streets, markets, schools, entertainment boulevards, etc). It provides a more holistic view of what is actually going on in the consumer’s own cultural context.
• Consumers - at home, during their free time, while shopping
• Business users - in the office, at the factory bench
Visual Ethnographic: discovering insights from observational interviews in a wide range of contexts such as point of consumption, in-home or retail environments and virtual experiences - using the discipline of documentary film-making and photography as the framework.
Cool Hunting: discovering emerging trends & styles as soon as they begin to be noticed by the media – newspapers, lifestyle magazines, leading edge publications, films, books and TV/film role models, etc.
Typical day in the life: client executives act as a typical consumer, buyer or other relevant role in order to experience the life as it is. Is a kind of “reality” with deep emotional experience and psychological challenge. It motivates attitudinal change and new ways of thinking. Is it usually used as an input for innovation.
Life-Story: consumers fill out their own thinking’s and feelings in a structured guided diary.
ZMET: Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) is aimed to understand the unconscious connections between emotions and products. Use an image-based narrative research and storytelling approach. Is a proprietary market research tool.
Insights Mining: Taking the time to watch or mine blogs or websites can provide a plentiful source of fresh, consumer-inspired ideas. Some companies have developed relationships with the most prolific and influential bloggers in their realm.
Immersion in Consumers Life’s”: 3 full days immersions in low income households and suburbs in order to experience “real life” and share important activities with consumers as breakfast, lunchtime, shopping, playing, etc. Client main collaborators (commercial and no commercial) actively participate. Requires careful orchestration, expert facilitation and follow-up. A debriefing session post immersion motivates idea generation and actionable insights to come up.
Creative Labs & Workshops: a forum for developing new ideas and directions in which “creative consumers”, client and agency (research & advertising) actively participate. Is a creative session more than a research technique. It prepares participants to a creative session so “creativity” screening is a key factor. Recruitment must be done carefully and also the insight facilitator should encourage creative thinking with the support of specialized tasks.
Innovation Breakthrough Sessions: Is a full day session in which a team of facilitators prepare participants to used there own consumer expertise to develop new product, services and marketing ideas. The participants are emotionally challenged & demanded. The environment is critical to inspire & motivate.
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