Let’s Get Back Out There! From The Sound on Vimeo.

So, do you miss it? Do you miss having a participant’s cat crawl up on your lap as you’re observing an in-home ethnography? Do you miss having an impromptu analysis session with your moderator to post a full night of IDIs? Do you miss watching a focus group from behind a mirror and witnessing in person people’s gut reactions to a new ad campaign? Do you miss the candy bowl? You have to miss the candy bowl. We sure do.

Well, it’s time we get back out there. 

As macro forces continue to disrupt everyday behavior, the need for brands to understand the truths of people’s lives has never been more pressing. When the pandemic made in-person research impossible, virtual research methodologies adapted quickly to provide the insights we needed. And while virtual methods have proved to be quite efficient, our recent ventures back into the IRL field reminded us that when we’re aiming to build empathy with people, nothing compares to meeting them in their world. 

Understanding people is at the heart of everything we do. Here’s how our recent return to in-person research is helping us better achieve this.

  1. Encourages deeper trust – Fielding in person allows for a more natural, human-to-human exchange, which builds connection and makes people feel safe to share more. Additionally, being in the same space elevates the importance of the research event for people, signaling that they matter to us, which helps foster reciprocity.
  2. Provides a richer view – When we get to see the context of their lives – personal artifacts, household dynamics, morning routines… and yes, their cat Barney – we really see them. Observing their world first-hand reveals beautiful insights that they couldn’t have shared otherwise and grants us the opportunity to ask more meaningful, relevant questions, all in service of better understanding their lives, tensions, and drivers. 
  3. Gives a sharper read – Live conversations allow for the fullest expression of the human spirit. Body language and micro responses are much more perceptible in person as they reveal people’s truest, often subconscious, thoughts and feelings. These extra signals help us identify their real needs and wants – the foundation of how to best serve them.

While virtual methods are highly effective for most research needs, when the desired outcome is to build deeper, sharper, richer consumer empathy, sometimes you just have to be there. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!

Jacqueline's Awkward teen photo
Written By:
Jacqueline Flavin

Jackie is an insatiably curious researcher on a mission to find truth. Energized by complex problems, she thoughtfully connects dots to deliver meaningful insights that drive impact. Equipped with a unique blend of experience fielding qualitative and quantitative research, Jackie is adept at integrating and bending various research methods. She holds an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business, specializing in Strategy and Marketing.

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