Gaining deep insight into current or future consumer needs often-times goes beyond gathering consumer data through traditional quantitative marketing research methods such as surveys and focus groups. Great product ideas are typically gained through a scientific probing of the consumer’s unconscious thoughts, mindsets, motivations, moods, desires, and aspirations. Such qualitative research requires highly educated consumer psychologists that possess an ability to gain deep insights into the underlying and often unconscious needs and desires of consumers. Other methods used to uncover deep consumer insights include ethnographic research, social media research, and mobile research.
Ethnographic consumer research has also become a very popular research method for the fortune-500 companies in their effort to uncover deep consumer insights. Ethnographic research is a spin-off of anthropology; an area of study that requires anthropologists (researchers) to live with the culture that they are studying. Toyota has been conducting ethnographic consumer research for the past 20 years. Toyota sends its ethnographic consumer researchers to literally live with Toyota owners for a period of time. Then every time the Toyota owner gets into the automobile, the Toyota ethnographer (researcher) sits in the backseat and observes every move made by the driver and passengers. Great consumer insights are gathered from observing the Toyota owners in their “real world” of automobile operation. These consumer insights have led to new product development ideas that have kept Toyota at the for-front of consumer satisfaction.
Social media research has also become a wonderful method to uncover deep consumer insights. Social media research offers an unprecedented access to stream of consciousness feedback. Organizations can now listen to consumers unbiasedly talk about how the products they buy are either solving their problems, or are not solving their problems. Based on listening to consumers through social channels, organizations are gaining great insight into consumer needs; which is translating into very innovative product launches.
Mobile technology is also becoming a wonderful method to uncover deep “in-the-moment” consumer insights. Powerful algorithms are being developed to mine terabytes of mobile data in an effort to gain a deep understanding of consumer needs. Mobile is the next frontier in understanding consumers from a very deep level.