Foresight and Hindsight vs. Insight

Many agencies treat research as a means to gain foresight. It’s strategic guessing. It typically takes customers out of their element and asks them questions that point to predetermined answers. Focus groups, surveys and data analysis all have a purpose – but predicting product success, service offerings or communications campaigns are not generally among them. Conversely, when research is used to prove “we’re on the right path and have been this whole time”, it becomes CYA management. Simply put, any searching for data with a preconceived notion will give you precisely the answers you expect. That’s not insight.

At OSIGN, we quest for those jarring bits of information that reveal the ‘beating heart’ of consumers’ connections to brands. It’s more than how and why people buy products. Insight lifts veils on relationships between shoppers, consumers, manufacturers and retailers. Insight digs deep into the complex system of actions, symbols and behaviors that mark brand relationships.

In addition to traditional survey development and data analysis that frames solid strategy, our immersive and proprietary insight design and analysis links individual household cultures, and macro-level drivers of culture. The result is a trustable, well-grounded and contextually rich picture of the daily lives of your consumer. Our data highlights challenges and opportunities for potential new product positioning and messaging.

Some of the things we look to uncover are:

  • Brand as status, play and exhibition.
  • What it means to think in symbols and metaphors.
  • The power of celebrity culture.
  • Shopping as entertainment.
  • Brand as identity.
  • Retail space, online and offline, as social setting.
  • How products are used, displayed and discarded.
  • What kind of things violate our expectations.
  • Culture vs. cool.
  • Fad/Fashion/Trend/Culture – Order of progression.

For our team, exploration means looking at and analyzing events through the anthropological lens, searching for hidden meanings, cultural symbolism, and the contexts in which people experience the world.  Here are some of the tools we use to get at the answers:

Participant Observation

Spend time with people (days or weeks), to better understand the interactions, routines, cultural beliefs and contexts of their daily lives. This is an extremely powerful tool for getting at the complexities of beliefs and worldviews, finding connections and shared meaning so as to tailor subtle but extremely powerful brand messages.

Brand Cataloging

Document things people say are important to them and having them explain what they mean – this can be anything from an old picture to a favorite pair of socks. This helps uncover perceptions, emotional ties, values, and shared meaning, as well as activities and processes of use.

Mind Mapping

Diagramming around a central key word or idea to represent concepts, words, ideas or tasks. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize and structure ideas, and as an aid in developing connections between ideas and mining for product and marketing opportunities.

Resource Flow Documentation

The study of the complex issues around how resources are attained, used, repurposed and disposed of within a household, community or social network. A good way to start is to ask an individual in the group to draw representations of those things in the home that bring in money or goods and where the resources go.

Unfocused Groups

A gathering of individuals in a workshop or open discussion forum where they have access to a wide range of creative things to stimulate interaction and creation. This encourages a dynamic, creative space where ideas can be shared freely as inhibitions are lowered.

Proxemics (Spatial Analysis)

Documenting how space and environments are used and understood in cultural and psychological contexts. This technique is good for getting at what different groups associate with places – what does a dark room signify, what does the card section in a drugstore mean, what does the arrangement of furniture in a home signify?

Cultural Mapping

Tracking of how people and objects move through space over time. This process helps define high traffic areas and the impact images, obstacles and more shape spatial behavior.

Material Culture Analysis

Discover and documents items in people’s lives, how those items derive meaning, and how they reflect the culture to which the owner belongs. It provides information about iconic imagery for a group, establishes what things are most important to them, and how they reflect meaning in daily life.

Social Network Mapping

Categorize the various relationships and communities of interaction within a segment and map their interactions. This is a excellent way to understand the different roles people take on at different times and the various relationship types with a group.


More Posts

The Hazards of Workahol

Tiny Rant: We’ve all heard of the dangerous effects of workahol. But workahol, of course is a made up drug. While people use the term

Send Us A Message

On Key

Related Posts

The Hazards of Workahol

Tiny Rant: We’ve all heard of the dangerous effects of workahol. But workahol, of course is a made up drug. While people use the term