Written By: Ruthie Feinstein, Director of Insights & Strategy
Minneapolis. Paris. Sydney. A five-month long project involving three time zones, two languages, a team of translators, moderators and a film crew. Last month, I was fortunate enough to take a journey around the world with the SIVO team to lead a consumer insights project for a global CPG brand. Here are some highlights.
Client as our co-pilot
One thing I love about SIVO is our commitment to partnership. With our clients, our goal is to act as a true extension of their team, from beginning to end. So, before we even arrived, we established key touchpoints with our U.S., Paris and Sydney client teams to establish rapport and provide thought leadership. We also wanted to instill confidence about the many logistics that happen on a massive project like this.
Client engagement in the project was also critical. Our “relational” vs. “transactional” approach to insights work means that we bring clients along on the insights journey so they can experience the learning first-hand. This also helps clients have more impact when they socialize insights internally and are able to apply them to business objectives faster.
On this project, we developed a fun and interactive consumer empathy exercise where the local teams stepped out of the conference room and put themselves in the shoes of their consumers.
They needed to understand what people truly experience when buying their products…. the good, the bad and the ugly. A work session to discuss their observations and implications to the upcoming consumer work followed. This exercise was a great primer for the consumer research since it provided context and a stronger foundation for the insights to “land.” And – client teams were now more energized and excited to hear what people had to say! They can listen with an informed ear having had recent, direct experiences of their own. Much more impactful.
In preparation for our arrival, we did our own empathy prep work too, by consulting with our strategic partners in Paris and Sydney. These conversations connected us to the local mood, the political climate in each country, and how people felt about an American being in their home. We video-chatted with trusted local experts to understand the nuances that would help us make people feel comfortable. It was critical that we would be curious while being respectful of local norms and customs.
Bonjour and G’day Mates!
Upon touchdown in Paris and Sydney, we were ready to meet our local respondents.
We started with in-home ethnographies. In this intimate setting, people share more about their lifestyles, behaviors and motivations; we also can see how the product is actually used and stored. Interactive exercises help illuminate human behaviors that relate to the product and uncover rational and emotional benefits – the latter being the kind that can strike an indelible connection with people. Pure brand-building gold.
We then shopped along with these same folks, observing their behavior in real-time, paying close attention, and using System 1 techniques to uncover the true emotional drivers of behavior. Many may think that shopping is purely a rational act. However, the act of choosing what store to visit and what products to put in the cart is rarely just a transaction, even when it is a utility product like the one in this study.
Globetrotting has business-building benefits
Digging deep to uncover and bring to life emotional drivers of behavior is SIVO’s core competency. It also happens to be what I love to do. But all of this talk about emotions and feelings isn’t just touchy-feely stuff. The business impact is huge.
In the end, this multi-country, multi-layered investigative journey to France and Australia helped our clients discover key emotional drivers of behavior; and as they said, “was a critical input in defining their global strategy”. Happy clients, happy SIVO. Partnership indeed.
Ruthie brings over 20 years of senior leadership experience in consumer insights, brand strategy and marketing communications to her work at SIVO Insights. She has deep empathy for client needs, high partnership standards, and an eye toward meeting business objectives. Ruthie is a seasoned moderator and strategist whose warm, approachable style makes consumers feel they are talking to a friend and results in deeper insights. Her strong relationships and strategic influence have shaped positioning, innovation, and growth strategies for blue-chip brands across food, technology, entertainment and retail.