Gain First-Hand Experience.  Gain Intuition. 

People come in all shapes and sizes, income levels, and preferences.  They are inherently inconsistent depending on the day or their mood which makes the jobs of researchers and marketers that much more challenging. This can lead to teams struggling with intuition building and anticipating behavior.   

Getting in-store is a perspective broadening experience. 

One of the most eye-opening experiences of my research career occurred while doing a deep dive in the snacking category across multiple retail channels. I spent the first day conducting intercepts in an upper-class neighborhood, listening to moms talk about keeping their second fridges and pantries stocked with enough snacks to feed the ravenous teenagers that raided their house each afternoon.  The next day was spent in a Philadelphia drugstore where I spoke with people who used this store for everything and would purchase snacks only as the money in their pocket allowed or as substitutes for meals.  These two groups of people were buying the exact same products, but the job snacks fulfilled for them couldn’t have been more different  

My snacking experience is very similar to the shoppers at the first store but seeing firsthand the experiences of consumers at the drugstore greatly impacted my perspective.  Starting with my dad, our company has always encouraged client teams to join us in-store and participate in the research because seeing and experiencing is much more meaningful than reading a report.  It is rarely comfortable standing for several hours, but the richness gained is so good, it makes the sore feet worth it.   

You might not BE your consumer, but you can understand them. 

Jeanine Bassett, former head of Consumer Insights at General Mills, once said, “you can see that small companies are tearing it up. I think a data desert is actually their secret weapon because, by default, they need to know that consumer really, really well.”   She suggests companies need to “find more room for the consumer and making sure that you have the backdrop of a really strong program of consumer intimacy.” 

“Find more room for the consumer and making sure that you have the backdrop of a really strong program of consumer intimacy.”

– Jeanine Bassett, General Mills

Small companies not only know their consumers well, but they also tend to BE their consumer.  It is much harder when you are NOT your consumer.  Just like my eyes were opened to my experience in the drugstore, young/single professionals may not naturally understand the needs of busy families. Or a highly experienced, high-earning professional may not naturally understand the needs and behavior of Millennials or Dollar store shoppers. 

In fact, often, you will NOT be the consumer the brands you work on target.  Making sure the whole cross-functional team has ample opportunities to connect with consumers of your product categories and really get to know them is that much more important.  

Build empathy while moving projects forward. 

Selling-in the idea of reserving budget for just empathy-building can be difficult.  One of the surprising benefits of our in-context methods focused on packaging or innovation is the intuition about the category, shoppers, and occasions gained by brand team members who are in-field with us to see, hear, and feel.  It is the perfect opportunity to build empathy while also moving other projects forward.  A perfect two- for- one. 

 Come join us in the field and meet the unique individuals that hold the key to your product’s success. 

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