Picked up a copy of Business Week while I spent an hour waiting for a doctor's appointment this morning. It was from a few months back. The cover story was about Crispin Porter and talked about their work with VW. At Traction, we've been doing some soul-searching about what makes us different (and hopefully better) than other agencies. One of the things we've zero'ed in on is our approach to research.
Some of the tactics we've used include "wine-and-cheese focus groups" in our office or a cafe (no double-paned mirrors) and one-on-ones in people's comfortable home environments. Last week we were doing some digging into a college-age target, so we went to Cal with a pocketful of fives and walked around campus asking people for "5 minutes for $5." We also did in store observational studies when we did package design for Plantronics last year. Same type of thing when we were doing research for a potential line of products that were going to be marketed in convenience stores.
Anyhow, it was refreshing to see that Cripsin uses unconventional methods for digging up consumer insights as well. When VW parked the account with them, they needed to get work out the door in 2 months. They did 24 one-on-ones with customers, but first gave them a homework assignment: make a collage out of magazine clippings representing a VW owner and another representing people who own Japanese competitor cars.
I'm also reading IDEO's book on innovation. They're really big on "anthropological" studies of human factors. Similar to our team sitting in Best Buy watching people interact with electronics on store shelves to create the ideal in-store brand experience for Plantronics. IDEO also does "unfocus groups" where they mix grandmas, CEOs and teenagers to get a broad swath of opinions on something.
Nice to see that companies I respect have the same basic philosophy. Just because something is typically done one way, doesn't mean it's the right way to do it.