The Importance Of In-Context Research
- Artificial Settings Lead To Artificial Responses
No respondent sets out to be untruthful when doing research, but sometimes the act of sitting in a stuffy room, with 4 or 5 people they have never met, being asked questions about things they don’t normally talk or think about can dramatically influence the quality of how people respond. Respondents can over-intellectualise responses or forget important factors completely as the settings are out of context. We think the best way to invent breakthrough products and services is to visit people and understand them in their natural environment e.g. discuss their favourite food in their kitchens, beauty products in their bathrooms, or portable electronics on their commute.
- What Can You Do When You Can’t (Or Shouldn’t) Be There?
If budget and time were no object, we would do all of our research wherever people are in the moment, but as research budgets get tighter and project timings become shorter we need more creative ways to dive in and observe what is happening. Also certain taboo categories require a more sensitive research approach that is less in their face. We are increasingly using a suite of different tools to approach these dynamics. Online diaries, netchats and video posting allow people to record responses in the moment, in their environment, and in a way that is fast & cost effective.
- Today’s World As Inspiration For Tomorrow’s Ideas
Consumer research is often misunderstood and badly designed or executed, and as a result many claim that consumer research is a waste of time. There is a grain of truth in this thinking, consumers cannot tell you what the future holds and what product or service to invent. BUT they can tell you all about their world in today’s context – what already works well & why, what works less well and frustrates them, their coping behaviours & habits, and what they would love in an ideal world. Today’s insights can then be stretched into the future with a semiotic projection of emergent cultural clues. Hidden amongst these deeply contextual discussions are clues to winning products & services. It is the job of the researcher to connect this contextual evidence to inspire exciting, new ideas.
- Pivot Moments & Prototypes
There are key moments during the use of any service or product when certain qualities really come to life. At Untapped we call these ‘pivot moments’, the most important turning point when someone notices how truly good (or bad) a product or service performs. These are the moments that must be understood in painstaking, step-by-step detail so that the MVP and later prototypes can be successful. It is almost impossible to understand these pivot moments from a detached focus group environment so real & natural settings are a must as they ensure accuracy & depth of understanding.
- Story Telling Is Human, The Environment Must Be Too
Think of the last time someone told you a great story that really connected with you – where were you? Chances are you were somewhere where both of you felt at ease e.g. a coffee shop, a pub or at home. Similarly, to really connect with a respondent on a human level and elicit their deep, emotional stories and insights, a ‘human’, in context environment is key.