“Our Focus is on What Consumers Do, Not Just What They Say” – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

“Our Focus is on What Consumers Do, Not Just What They Say”

Recently, Senior Director, Client Development Christian Dössel and Insights Manager, Behavioral Qualitative Lukas Steinberg spoke with Marktforschung.de for an interview about LAB, PRS IN VIVO's new suite of consultative qualitative services designed to Leverage Authentic Behavior from consumers in order for brands to realize success across their entire lifecycle of development, design and marketing of products through a behavioral lens. Read the English translation of the interview below, or read the original article in German.

"Our Focus is on What Consumers Do, Not Just What They Say"

How do you capture consumers’ emotions? How can unconscious and spontaneous behavior be analyzed without asking questions? In this interview, Lukas Steinberg and Christian Dössel present the 360​​° framework of PRS IN VIVO LAB.

marktforschung.de: How exactly does LAB leverage authentic consumer behavior? How do you proceed?

Lukas Steinberg: At PRS IN VIVO, we have always held the point of view that we need to focus on what consumers actually do rather than what they tell us. Traditionally, this meant for us that we designed our research methodologies around observational components that reflect the actual context as realistically as possible.

This approach is still very much valid today and at the core of our LAB Behavioral Qualitative framework. However, we also acknowledge that a significant amount of qualitative market research across the industry is still done in a relatively "clean" and rationalized setting. Naturally, it can be tempting to overestimate what consumers say.

PRS IN VIVO have been pioneers in pushing NPD research into realistic contexts that allow us to monitor authentic shopping behavior. With LAB, we enhance our behavioral approach even further and create environments that enable a greater immersion of participants. In combination with our state-of-the-art technologies, we can explore context-sensitive behavior in even more depth. Our observational approach combines tried and tested methods with mobile eye-tracking technology, motion detectors and biometric tools that can track and record objective data on the emotions of participants. This allows us to penetrate additional layers of unconscious and spontaneous behavior. Ideally, we want to answer key questions from our customers without actually asking the question.

marktforschung.de: How does LAB differ from other qualitative approaches in researching consumer behavior, such as observations or facilities recreating everyday environments?

Lukas Steinberg: In a nutshell, PRS IN VIVO's LAB enables our customers to think about the future instead of just reacting passively to pressure and changes.

A considerable amount of qualitative research is carried out without considering where a brand currently stands and, above all, where the market as a whole is heading. We see this with various market leaders and across industries. Attitudes towards research are often somewhat passive and more of a reaction to competitive pressure and changes in the market rather than active and forward-looking. To a certain extent, this "single loop learning" approach to creativity and innovation is understandable and a classic organizational problem.

This is where our LAB offer comes into play. LAB is not just a plug-and-play Qual solution that can answer a specific question at a specific time. Instead, LAB is a 360° framework that covers the entire product life cycle and beyond so that our customers can break through their learning cycle for better business outcomes.

We broaden our approach to behavioral research to inspire our customers from the earliest stage of NPD or brand development, incorporate trends and industry forecasts, and investigate challenges before they become concrete.

An essential part of our approach is our Empathy LAB methodology, which we also refer to as "extreme ethnography." We replicate decision-making processes in a realistic context to activate authentic consumer behavior. Instead of following a purely traditional interview process, our techniques aim at the observation of spontaneous System 1 behaviors and reactions, e.g. through elements such as time pressure, gamification inspired by social media behavior, and emotional measurement.

With LAB, our customers should not only think about the future, but should be able to actively shape their future and be actively involved throughout the process. For this, it is necessary that we always use the right methods in product development and create hypotheses based on a combination of long-term observations and the expertise of our network of cultural experts, behavioral science consultants and semioticians.

marktforschung.de: Have you already carried out projects with the new approach? If yes, can you please outline a project?

Christian Dössel: We launched LAB at the beginning of 2020 and we are already working on an initiative for the future of food consumption behavior of Gen Z consumers and the evolution of meat consumption. Changing attitudes offer both opportunities and risks especially for the market of plant-based foods, meat substitutes and cultivated meat (grown from cells). As the market is changing rapidly, we are pleased to be able to offer a 360° approach with LAB that supports brands on this long-term initiative and never loses sight of the next step.

marktforschung.de: In which situations can LAB show its strengths?

Lukas Steinberg: Many marketing initiatives fail to achieve their goals, even though research was carried out in form of a "disaster check" before the official launch. We observe this globally in new products, packaging relaunches, rebrandings and advertising campaigns. LAB is a holistic approach that combines qualitative and quantitative insights into every phase of the product life cycle. This means that our clients have the tools at hand that they need to think forward and to validate concepts that were developed based on robust research with the end user in mind.

marktforschung.de: How complex is a project with LAB compared to other projects? How long does a project with LAB typically take?

Christian Dössel: LAB can be tailored to the needs of our customers, depending on the phase at which input is required. This can be a short-term review of the market environment by category experts and trend observers or multi-stage concept development workshops with influencers, product developers and consumers, up to the exploration of the product experience and subsequent validation. LAB is more than a solution to only one problem: We can scale LAB and support our customers as partners on the long term over several phases: Immerse & Inspire, Build & Iterate, Guide & Refine, and finally: Always Ahead with an outlook towards the future.

Christian Dössel works as Senior Director for PRS IN VIVO in Hamburg, quantitatively and qualitatively, at the interface of consumer research and behavioral economics. In his 20 years of experience in market research, he has worked closely with organizations of all sizes, business focuses and cultures.

Lukas Steinberg works as a Behavioral Qualitative Insights Manager for PRS IN VIVO and has an MSc in Psychological and Behavioral Science from the London School of Economics & Political Science.

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Published on: 01/31/2020