There aren’t any methods for consistently generating deep insights. However, we might be able to increase the odds by the approach we take. To understand how consumers think about products and make decisions about purchases, we can probe them more carefully using methods such as cognitive analysis. These methods let us examine the things that confuse consumers, dilemmas they face and flaws in their mental models. Even when consumers can’t articulate their thought processes (‘i can’t put it into words’ and ‘it was just a feeling i had’), we can find ways to probe their judgments and decisions.
Here is another project sponsored by P&G. This one sought deep insights into the way housewives thought about laundry stain removers. My small research team visited homes to conduct cognitive interviews. In one of the first interviews i led, i asked the housewife what her mental model was regarding the stain removal product she used. She gave me a quizzical look, turned to my assistants and said: “is he for real?” not a happy moment, except for my assistants who laughed all the way back to our office."
Gary Klein. “Deep insights to challenge core belief" warc sub req’d
More evidence for the vitality of qualitative research that is sensitive to psychology and anthropology. When marketing begins to talk about ‘cognitive” and “mental models” you know that the legitimacy of science is helping people invite the human imagination into the process. And this is wonderful news.
I am so appreciative of his honesty in sharing how his own language and expertise was useless in helping an individual share their own truth.
For this is the piece that gets lost - that academic expertise in mental models and “cognitive” this or that, does not mean you are able to access these insights within an actual conversation with human beings.
This is the craft of brand listening. For better or worse, marketing and brand are the only aspects of organizations that concern themselves with actual human behavior - which is less about fact and more about imagination. The only way to access the imaginative experience is to listen. And listening must be creative. This is the hard truth of the soft sciences.(via peterspear)