How to create evidence based stories about people

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In the search for the next world changing idea human nature is to think BIG, as the world is a big place. Yet, the most likely next big idea is actually small, and seemingly too simple, solving an inherent problem or just making the complex easier.

Think of a global juggernaut and the fundamental problem they are solving. Facebook created a free place for friends and family to share their lives. Eventbrite makes it easy to manage an event. Uber is providing an alternative to the frustration of taxis. They are influencing behaviour change from finding better solutions. There is a plethora of these still just waiting.

Yet, BIG IDEAS are difficult to find. However, as in many things in life, the key to navigating the complexity is finding simplicity. While everyone is searching for the next BIG IDEA, the small and seemingly too simple ideas solving inherent problems or just making the complex easy are missed.

There is value in using tools such as market research to discover the next world changing unicorn idea (i.e. HUGE financial and world changing potential) amongst the donkey  ideas (i.e. perhaps cute, but no market, no demand, no value).

This all starts with a solid evidence based story about real people incorporating analytical and intuitive thinking. This will likely help unlock the next small, and seemingly too simple idea, solving an inherent problems or just making the complex easier.

Here are some of the evidence based story genres we love to tell …

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Brands and people

Stories of where a brand fits in the hearts and minds of real people can be fascinating. Generally this is less about the brand’s egotistical story, than how the brand fits within the lives of consumers. Why do people need or want the product or service? Quantitative and qualitative research is valuable to build perceptual maps of brand similarity and differentiation within a category, measure awareness, understand typical behaviour and define paths to growth in reputation and revenue.

Culture and community

Ideas can be sparked from evidence based stories about real people. How they live, attitudes and motivations, to how they use technology, shopping, behaviours good and bad, loves, pains and passions. Using deep and robust research such as one-on-one interviews, group discussions and in-home discussions, ethnography, semiotics, surveys, observing trends within and beyond category,  much analysis and story-telling of data, experiences, photos, audio, video etc.

Digital data

Social media is here to stay. The buzz is about ‘engagement’ and gaining a more intimate connection with consumers. It is about keeping it real and leveraging relationships to build virtual word-of-mouth. How very nice. However, the real value of social data [e.g. from Facebook, Instagram etc] is potentially beyond engagement and sentiment towards a consumer research data set.

Experience mapping

Defining the behaviour change journey (e.g. a new home or exercising more), including critical steps in the process such as triggers, balancing pros and cons of change, narrowing options, starting to act, maintaining this and avoiding a relapse to comfortable old ways. Emotions, information needs, drivers / barriers, pain points and  opportunities along the journey.

Financials and segments

Conversations with real customers and potential customers. Collection of robust quantitative and qualitative data, identifying trends and patterns. Each snapshot is tailored to the client and explores issues such as market segmentation, optimal pricing, choice modeling, economic impact modeling and identification of gaps and growth opportunities domestically and in export markets.

Evidence based stories

Rather than seeking a silver bullet idea that may, but likely will not revolutionise the world, professional market research can be used to find a widely held unresolved problem or unmet need or want, that is universally true, beyond minuscule niches. This allows a deep and robust human understanding of real people and the unresolved problems, opportunities, needs and wants to an essence to allow for the igniting of the next BIG IDEA, build better products and guide how they are sold.

The beginner’s mind

The beginner’s mind refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shoshin (??)

(for more read The beginner’s mind)

In contrast, confirmation bias skews thinking towards affirming existing perceptions, rather than critiquing hypothesis or looking for alternatives. Data is analysed with likely unintentional bias, to confirm preconceived views that match the status-quo, category norm. Even potentially unbiased perspectives, data, insights and opportunities are read with a filter revealing “nothing new,” which is likely less about the analysis and recommendations than decision makers unable to think beyond what they wish to confirm.

Look beyond the category, geography and internal perspective. Avoid data analytics that just confirm the status quo (intentionally or otherwise). Look outwards, globally, new data, patterns and trends. Use external providers with a beginners mind with a wide perspective. Think beyond internal teams and category experts who risk simply confirming their own bias. Set hypothesis and seek to disprove rather than innately prove existing views. Allow for thinking approaches that offer a devil’s advocate input.

(for more read Introspection kills innovation)

Originally posted via our weekly ezine. Read it here.