Researching consumer’s daily lives

The problem with focus groups is that those taking part often feel pressured to say certain things. Or, simply resort to talking in clichés.

Jo Roberts
Jo Roberts

I observed a focus group in action a while back and when the conversation turned to changing shopping habits, most people said they were ’tightening their belts’. While that may have been true in some cases, I couldn’t help but think many were saying this because they thought they ought to rather than talking about what was really happening in their households.

Even observing consumers in their ’natural’ environment can lead to mixed results as it’s pretty difficult for people to carry on ’as normal’ with someone watching over you.

So, it’s with interest that one agency is trying to get over this with a different research technique. Firefish is experimenting with something called ’lifelogging’ where consumers wear a camera around their neck as they go about their day. Brands can then see what people get up to without invading their space. As Dr Bob Cook, board director at research agency, Firefish explains: you “Deal with actual experience rather than what most people tell researchers or brands.”

He argues that it can give brands some context to enable the business to understand when and how their product is being consumed. Do people drink a can of coke with friends, or do they gulp it down on the go? Intricate detail that might not be picked up in conventional studies can be picked up with the cameras.

What people say they do and what they actually do can be entirely different things, and getting people to respond to surveys cannot always guarantee a truthful answer. As with every research tool there are some downsides. Filming someone’s daily life results in hours of footage meaning that someone has the laborious job of filtering that information. Brands need to trust the most relevant footage has made the final cut. With the ability to quietly observe how people actually go about their daily lives, this is a small risk that brands like Danone are willing to take in order to observe how people consume their products without getting in the way.


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