As we reflect back on 2018, one commonality that was consistent across most of our client partners was the shrinking of their consumer insights budgets.  As these budgetary constraints affected many industries and verticals this past year, there was a need to be as efficient as possible.  Simply put, we needed to make every dollar work as hard as possible. 

In this budget-conscious environment, it may seem counter-intuitive to conduct large, strategic studies, but that’s exactly what happened.  

So why would someone who has A SMALLER BUDGET, invest in LARGER STUDIES? 

With shrinking budgets and increased pressure to deliver actionable results, there was a focus on value, not just price.  Large studies can be more efficient.  But the real value comes from getting the organization to act on the insights.  Deeper insights that are vivid get traction.  In 2018, studies were large, whether it be integrating qualitative with quantitative to make the quantitative portion richer and stickier, or conducting comprehensive, multiple-phase qualitatives to holistically understand the core consumer.  

There were two types of situations where larger studies were a good fit:

  1. When people need to understand a new category or growth opportunity

  2. When there was turnover within marketing teams and the new team needed to get up to speed and to quickly develop their foundational understanding. 

Better Understand An Emerging Product Category


The Need - A small appliance manufacturer wanted to better understand an emerging category to grow their business.  Initial efforts to enter this adjacent category were not as successful as planned.  Our client partner wanted to understand barriers to purchase and identify ways to overcome those barriers through better targeting consumers and modifying their communication hierarchy.  They needed to persuade consumers to trade up to their premium products in a category where the bulk of the current sales go to mainstream and value products.

The Solution – Ignite 360’s solution was a comprehensive quantitative attitudes and usage study. The study also included barriers, brand perception, and a mini-consumer segmentation. The added twist was to combine deep qualitative insights to the comprehensive quantitative portion.  We led qualitative online netnographic deep dives into purchase motivations, barriers, and to answer key questions that arose from the quantitative portion.  This was followed by a series of in-situation video one-on-one interviews among non-owners, to understand barriers to ownership and what communication positioning is needed to bring them into the emerging category. Ignite 360’s skilled moderators were able to go beyond what consumers say and do to get at what they think and feel.  The qualitative portion enabled the team to recognize consumer emotions and what the consumers really want.  Consumers also took photos and videos of the setting, timing and situation.  This brought a face to the numbers.  It brought the quantitative survey to life, which made the insights more approachable and more actionable. 

The Result – Implications were far reaching. Through a deeper understanding of the consumer, the company modified short-term and long-term strategies. 

 Communication hierarchy was refined to focus on enhancing brand perceptions.  The study illustrated that there is not enough separation versus the competition on the key brand perceptions that motivate category purchase.  Extra effort was made to showcase the product points of difference. Consumer communication was also updated to focus on claims that drive purchase motivation.

Innovation pipeline was fine-tuned.  Due to the learning, new product development was modified to include smaller sized appliances and new features.

The 360 report, learning summary, and implications, including consumer videos, was shared and got traction throughout the organization, from entry level to the C-suite.

Build Consumer Empathy Within A New Team


The Need - A consumer packaged goods company experienced much turnover throughout the organization.  The new team had not undergone consumer planning, targeting and empathy-building for each of their brands.  The new team members needed to build understanding about the consumer and the consumer’s relationship with cereal brands.  By building empathy, intuition and a deep understanding of the brand mandatories, the team honed their intuition, enabling them to forgo some consumer insight studies that they might have otherwise conducted.

The Solution – Ignite 360 has experience both with training and helping client teams connect with their consumers empathetically, enriching their intuition and decision-making abilities. A multi-phased qualitative approach was designed with the objective of building consumer empathy by understanding them more broadly as people first, then as consumers.

Ignite 360 established work sessions to identify strategic consumer targets, as well as the mandatory attributes of each focus brand, followed by a 5-day sprint program to explore different aspects of the focus brand consumer target’s life and relationship to the category and occasion.  Each workshop and activity built upon each other, leading to a final session that included a deep synthesis of learning and application planning.

The in-context portions included shopalong observation and probing. In-home ethnography was conducted during a key usage occasion, breakfast, for in-the-moment insights. The in-home interviews also included a tour of the kitchen and pantry to explore occasion on product usage, compliments and substitutes.  Dedicated time was spent exploring consumers’ social media favorite content and how they consumed media.

Target consumers were brought in for a Lifeology session. Team members were paired with a consumer to play Ignite 360’s proprietary board game that requires honest conversation on a variety of topics brought up by the game play. The 90-minute play session resulted in seeing a consumer as a person and a deepened understanding of who they are. 

The Result – The team now has firm understanding of the consumer. They are now equipped to be nimbler and to make decisions faster because of their in-depth empathy toward the consumer.  Additionally, there has been a culture change within the organization, transforming from a product and sales-driven company to a consumer and marketing organization.  The voice of the consumer can be heard throughout their new advertising. 

For more “how tos” and practical assistance on conducting efficient studies that build consumer empathy, check out these other posts:




For more information on good consumer understanding habits to transform your business, including our Empathy Camp workshops, contact us at or join the conversation on FacebookLinkedInTwitter or Instagram.