A special kind of research is making waves in the world of qualitative studies. “Research in the wild” involves researchers leaving the controlled environments of labs and organized experiments to capture sentiment in the moments that subjects experience it.
Unlike traditional qualitative research, like focus groups, research in the wild happens in the community – on the street and inside the homes of participants. It comes out of an emerging understanding that unnatural environments simply aren’t the best place to learn about the impacts technology and advertising have on the real world.
In this post, we’ll look at three creative ways leading brands are using research in the wild.
1. “Brushing Up” on the Consumer Sentiment Around Toothbrushes
YouEye did some concept testing for a company trying out toothbrush ideas, and decided to use research in the wild. Participants were asked to go into the bathroom with their smartphones and physically show us their toothbrushes and other dental hygiene products. The point was for participants to get into the mindset of dental hygiene while also looking at toothbrush concepts for the future.
It doesn’t get much more “up close and personal” than following someone into the bathroom to witness their oral healthcare. This study effectively gave a more realistic picture to our client about what people want in a toothbrush.
2. Moms Serve Up Snack Ideas in the Kitchen
Another study for a different client involved parents, particularly mothers, speaking about their snacking routines. These parents were asked to show us their pantry (via a smartphone or webcam) and demonstrate how they prepare snacks for their children. No concepts were shared during this study, rather, the feedback was simply used to frame how the target demographic currently fixes snacks, as well as highlight areas of opportunity on which the client could zero in for future products.
The following screenshot is a frame of a video in which a participant walked us through a typical snack routine, guided by the prompts we provided:
During the study, the client was able to glean some unique insights about snacking, such as the following from two health-conscious mothers:
3. Consumers Display Candid Letters to Their Favorite Clothing Brands
We did a study for a clothing company in which female customers told us why they no longer shop at a specific store. We asked them to pull clothing items purchased at that store from their closets, hold them up for the webcam, and explain what they love about the pieces.
Next, the participants “wrote” a break up letter (shared verbally) to this clothing company, explaining why they hadn’t bought anything there in six months.
The results were used by our client to give a voice to their target buyers’ suggestions. They used the feedback to assess areas of opportunity regarding what marketing campaigns they might consider, and what discontinued clothing lines might be most missed.
Real World Research for Real Customers
Researchers find they get the most complete pictures of their customers when they’re in natural, comfortable environments. In that way, qualitative research in the wild can be an effective way to connect with consumers, and collect the data that sustains that connection into the future. Plus, brands can get as creative as they want to with these type of research studies, which makes for a lot of fun!