Three Key Lessons from the Field

Qualitative research in-store can produce more than just answers to discrete research questions, it can act as a flexible method to unlock insights that delve beneath the surface of a consumer’s interaction with a product, brand or fixture – and uncover their thoughts and actions towards this subject in-the-moment. We believe that conducting these contextual research activities allows you to build an empathy that ultimately benefits the actions taken to address the opportunity at the centre of the research effort.

The following three lessons in conducting observations and intercept interviews can help to maximise the impact of this type of work.


 1. Stop…reflection time

Iteration is key to good design, and the lesson is just as applicable to research.

When structuring field research for observation and intercepts, consider a pause period, whereby you can step back and take stock of the responses. Starting to analyse the information during this stage can help you to refocus on areas for deep-diving, or new topics worth exploration in the final days of fieldwork. This is particularly valuable for disseminating understanding among teams, where one person is not privy to all of the conversations or observations.


 2. The ones that got away

It’s interesting to observe those who interact with your product or brand, but consider watching the behaviour and talking to those who reject and do not engage at all with the research subject.

This is a powerful way to uncover what is behind a lost opportunity for a category, brand or product. It provides context, and helps you to form hypotheses around some of the behaviours you’re noting in observation, to validate in conversations with shoppers.


 3. Loosen up on the discussion guide reigns

Each project has its own objectives but there is something to be said for letting intercept interviews deviate from a specific question set to follow a shopper’s stream of consciousness. After all, going down the rabbit-hole and asking ‘why’ just one more time can peel back a layer of perception that reveals something game-changing.

Taking a pause to reflect – as discussed in lesson one – is a good opportunity to ensure that you have sufficiently addressed specific questions required and to find that balance between prescriptive questioning and behaviour-driven enquiry.


To chat about qualitative shopper approaches, journey mapping and other consumer-centric research techniques, write to us at

Better Living Through Technology

Here at Harvest we love a useful piece of technology and have noticed an emerging category of apps and electronics that have the potential to revolutionise food and beverage shopping and consumption. Shipping right now is Vessyl. Essentially, Vessyl is a really smart drinking container that knows what is in it. This means it can track what you have consumed over the day so you can stay on top of your nutrition and hydration goals (and keep a lid on the caffeine intake). Naturally, Vessyl links to your mobile device and a range of activity trackers to aid in accurate tracking of calorie and hydration requirements.

Think that is like science fiction come to life? Well, check out SCiO – a pocket molecular sensor (we kid you not). SCiO fits in the palm of your hand – shine its little beam of knowledge down onto whatever you are looking at and SCiO will tell you all about it. SCiO goes beyond just nutritional facts though – want to know which watermelon will be the sweetest in the supermarket before you buy it, or whether the plants in your garden are appropriately hydrated? No trouble, SCiO is your new best friend. SCiO is in pre-production at the moment with a launch scheduled later this year. We at Harvest cannot wait to get our hands on one and are intrigued about the potential of products like SCiO to revolutionise the buying of fresh food.

This year we have seen the emergence of new apps that put more knowledge into the palm of the buyer at the moment they are choosing which brand to buy. If your focus is on your personal wellbeing then we present Foodswitch. Developed by Bupa, Foodswitch offers to choose alternative foods for you based on your needs. For example, if you select ‘SugarSwitch’ and then scan a breakfast cereal, FoodSwitch might suggest to you an option that is both a healthier choice, and one that is lower in sugar.

If your focus is a healthy society as well as a healthy body then Buycott is the app for you. Buycott helps you to make sure that what you are buying is produced by a company that reflects your values. Simply scan a barcode and Buycott will determine which parent company produced the item and then cross check that company against any campaigns you are interested in. Buycott is for you if you don’t want to buy from a company that supports GMO, or factory farming, or any other objectionable practice you care to think of.

Interested in how the shopper landscape is changing? Contact us for a conversation at