Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

The Dens of Truth

In the market research of the non-durable consumer products, where do we find TRUTH?  I believe there are two locations where TRUTH may be found:  that is, in the store and in the consumers' homes.  I have written a number of Views on the topic of In-Store Research.  I do not remember writing much about the merits of In-Home Research except in the context of In-Home Group Discussions.

Home visits are very strong tools for gaining consumer insights.  These visits offer the opportunity to study the consumer in their personal environment, to learn what real consumer problems and current needs are and to experience how the consumers solve problems and see what products they use and how they use them.  Home visits allow for intimate interactions with consumers on their turf where purchase decisions and repurchase decisions are evaluated.  They allow a unique opportunity to tap into the consumer's experiences and thought processes.

Home visits often provide insights that may be elusive in other situations or environments.  In focus groups, one-on-ones, CLTs and telephone interviews, consumers have to rely on memory to describe situations, problems, feelings and habits.  The researcher must listen carefully to visualize what and how something is being described.  When you are in the home, you can witness firsthand exactly what is actually being done.  You can then ask why something is done that the consumer may be doing subconsciously and, therefore, would never even articulate in an interview.

As best as I can remember, there were only two formal consumer research techniques in P&G that utilized the In-Home environment, In-Home Group Discussions and The Expert Director Test.  For more information on these two techniques, see the website ""  Use the search engine provided to locate Views related to the topics.  In-Home visits were frequently utilized, however, for exploratory research.  Some visits were aimed at resolving specific concerns while others were very open-ended in regards to purpose, being truly exploratory.

There are a few comments that really should not be needed but I will make them anyway.  Remember that you are a guest, courtesy is of the utmost importance.  Ask questions in a conversational style.  Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers.  Visits should be made by two or more people at all times.

Frequently we think that there is one way and only one way in which a product is used or a task is performed.  It has been my experience that there are just about as many ways of performing a task as there are people.  The single biggest awareness that employees coming out of the "Consumer Awareness Program" observed was the fact that almost everyone has a different way of doing a task.  It is the awareness of these variations that leads to new products.

Treat yourself to a day of learning.  Visit a consumer in their "Den of Truth."

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