Here are three approaches that we’ve successfully put into practice at partners + napier:
- Participate. Whenever possible, we immerse ourselves in the target’s world. In trying to crack the insight for Thule car racks, we sent our most avid outdoor enthusiasts to biking events to hang out in the parking lot and talk to other bikers. There we learned that their gear is about self-definition. And that Thule is not a brand, it’s a merit badge—their own tattoo that proves their enthusiasm. And that when their gear is on the rack, it’s their baby on top of the car.
- Observe in context. When we do have to use more traditional observation approach, we try to get the participants in context. To understand how women felt about specialty cheese, we invited them to a party and asked them to bring their favorite cheese board. Through this we learned that their love for cheese was hampered by the overwhelming "wall of cheese" at the supermarket. From this idea came the Président Cheese Coach strategy—positioning Président as the brand that "democratizes specialty cheese"—equipping today’s hostess with pairing info, recipes and other tips to make specialty cheese more accessible.
- Listen. There are all sorts of tools to understand what people are saying about a category or brand in social media, whether using Twitter or YouTube searches or by using advanced listening tools like Radian6 or Techrigy. One approach we’ve found to be really helpful is reading customer reviews—whether on sites like walmart.com or focused review sites like epinions.com. Unfiltered opinions can lead to insight and the opportunity to engage with the consumer.
A great example of getting insights ingeniously is Project See-Store, a quintessential study on convenience stores by The Palmerston Group, and Cole & Weber United. In addition to in-store observation, intercept interviews and employee interviews, Daniel Berkal, Director of Knowledge and Insights at The Palmerston Group, actually worked the midnight shift at several stores across the country to get a raw perspective on what drives his target audience. Talk about walking the walk.
So are you getting to true insights that spark creativity quickly and frequently enough? Your competitors probably are. So it may be time to dig harder and look for them in new ways.
In partnership with the ARF
Sharon Napier is President and CEO of Partners + Napier, an independent, mid-sized agency that liberates the promises of brands wherever they live. The agency partners with leading brands including Kodak, Constellation Wines U.S., Lactalis American Group, Wegmans, Citibank Student Loans, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Bausch & Lomb, UPS, Thule, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.