Best Practices

The Power of Talking to Consumers in Context

 2021/10/aa-multi-tasking-mom-245.jpg Multi-Tasking Mother Holds Sleeping Baby Son And Works On Laptop Computer In Kitchen
Multi-Tasking Mother Holds Sleeping Baby Son And Works On Laptop Computer In Kitchen

Many brands want to understand the actions of their customers and consumers in context on both conscious and subconscious levels. Our clients often come to us asking if there is a way to obtain both of these insights at once. The answer is yes: It is achieved through a multi-phased blend of traditional and contextual learning.

Choosing a custom approach of traditional and contextual learning drives rich understanding of sub-conscious thoughts and behaviors and provides a more holistic, accurate picture of your customers. Immersive techniques, like those outlined in the case below, are most effective at uncovering valuable contextual findings such as:

• Identifying whitespace
• Understanding underlying needs, behaviors, motivations, and attitudes
• Informing product development, targeting, and communication

Custom approach in action:

A large, global food company had a limited understanding of its target customer and needed to generate significant ideation inspiration in a rapidly growing and evolving category. To address these needs, we developed an integrated and immersive 360 framework designed to capture motivations, triggers, needs and tensions of their customers. The framework also included an alignment session with the brand team to inspire creative thinking, and and action plan to determine opportunities.


Here’s an overview of the insights process and framework:


Online: Bulletin Board

The first step was conducting an Online Bulletin Board. This generated detailed and unfiltered target customer understanding, and enabled the team to make an informed, intentional decision to thoroughly examine and hand pick the most ideal participants for the research’s next phase.

In-home: Ethnographies
Next were comprehensive, in-home ethnographies conducted among the chosen Online Bulletin Board participants. The team was immersed in the life of their target consumer via these ethnographies, watching them and gaining a contextual understanding of their food and diet wants, needs, and experiences. Together, the Online Bulletin Board and In-Home Ethnographies gave the team a detailed understanding of what consumers say about their experience, what they actually do, and most importantly, how actioning these differences can provide a competitive advantage.

Out and About: Immersion Excursion
As restaurants often stand at the forefront of food innovation, it was important to also immerse the team in dining experiences that cater directly to their target consumer. To do so, the team spent a day on an Immersion Excursion visiting popular diet-forward restaurants that served as inspiration and helped identify potential opportunity areas to use for the next phase: opportunity area creation and ideation.


Virtual Insight and Activation Session
With a deeper, comprehensive understanding of the target customer and their lifestyle in hand, the team moved into a day-long Facilitated Virtual Insight and Activation Session to share immersion inspiration and discuss potential opportunity spaces. Once aligned on three key opportunity areas, the team was ready to innovate and get customer feedback.


As a final step, the team leveraged a facilitated three-day virtual session to ideate and refine within the identified opportunity spaces:

  • Day 1: Virtual sub-groups helped brainstorm ideas
  • Day 2: Broader team reviewed and refined existing ideas. Customers joined via webcam to provide immediate, actionable feedback. A virtual concept writer and a virtual illustrator enhanced the top ideas and created fleshed-out concepts for Day 3.
  • Day 3: Optimized concepts were generated and feedback obtained through facilitated Webcam Triads with target customers using interactive, game-based designs. Concept optimization continued based on the feedback prior to moving into an overnight idea screener.

This immersive and contextual approach delivered powerful, nuanced understanding and inspiration that enabled the team to create customer-vetted concepts within a compressed, yet manageable timeframe. Importantly, it’s also possible to adapt this approach to an entirely virtual design, if needed, without any loss of learning or actionability.

Want you like to learn more about this immersive, contextual approach for your brand?

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