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