Think about the last five minutes of your day and the specific decisions you made during that time.  Did you take a sip of coffee? Rock in your chair? Read a text? Think through all your actions and behaviors—for how many do you feel you have a clear and rational reason for explaining why you did them?

Here is something I have learned in the past 15 years conducting in-context research: understanding the why to a behavior or purchase decision is critical to being a strategic partner and delivering value, but hearing a consumer answer the why themselves is often unnecessary and inaccurate rather than helpful.

What is the solve to this inconvenient quandary?


Context has a radical impact on how we view everything, as a human and as a consumer.  The more understood about the environment, mission, and mindset of the behavior, the more can be understood about the sequence of conscious and non-conscious decisions and actions that influenced an outcome.

We once studied the same product concept in two different grocery store categories.  The same product in the same packaging produced two significantly different assumptions and associations. 

  • In one category, consumers understood the texture, but were not looking for solutions to its assumed occasion in that aisle.
  • In the other category, they understood the intended occasion, but assumed the product would deliver a greater degree of flavor intensity than it did AND it wasn’t compelling compared to its surrounding competition. 

Same product, two different challenges based on the context. Bringing context into the research process adds layers of value, but it also adds a layer of complexity. What I love about the work we do at REAL Insight is that we always find the “why” in a way that is still scalable and efficient.


Expertise is achieved by doing something over a long period of time. The more in-depth data points and parallel experiences a person or organization has, the more they can assemble a set of known success points and triggers that can be overlayed to interpret what the behavior was and why it makes sense. 

Our team has spent so many days standing in aisles and sitting in homes watching real people behave in the way real people behave.  Nothing is simple.  Our lives are full of nuance, inconsistencies, and reactions we cannot explain.  Although our humanness sometimes frustrates marketers and makes research harder to do, our time spent observing and analyzing these authentic moments has enabled us to uncover the insights within the nuance and make recommendations that will more accurately deliver on real life realities.

Because of our extensive experience in real contexts, REAL Insight’s expertise goes beyond research methodologies: we are experts in human behavior.  

New call-to-action

1 comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: