Illumination Studies

“We have worked with Square Holes on a range of research projects and always found the insights not just interesting and insightful but very valuable in setting strategic directions.”

– Executive Director, Government Department

Understand the stories, beliefs and behaviours of key markets, customers and population segments.

Getting the foundation right from the start is essential to ensure strategy success. Square Holes works with clients to crystallise the mission and sub-objectives, explore early ideas and to ensure the team is supportive and excited. What is the strategic problem needing to be resolved? We reflect on lessons learnt in the past, and what is already known, then uncover new data and evidence, what was previously unknown. We analyse seeking patterns and insights, and build an engaging evidence based story to illustrate key findings and priority opportunities.

Typically such studies are conducted every 2-5 years to underpin strategic priorities, depending on the speed of change in the category and/or topic area. Where are the pain points, opportunities and optimal paths to improvement?

Square Holes project examples …

  • Segmenting adult population’s distinctive education needs professionally and personally
  • Exploring attitudes to ageing and elder abuse, community understanding and need for intervention
  • Deeply understanding the caravan, 4WD and camping section in Australia and trends

Three typical key steps

Problem definition

  • Initial meeting with project lead
  • Mission workshop with core team
  • Consultation with key internal staff
  • Finalise methodology / project plan

Insight collection

  • Review of available research / data
  • Observational ethnography / semiotics
  • Key influencer in-depth interviews
  • Focus groups with key segments
  • Survey(s) with target population(s)
  • In-home / in-depth discussions
  • Other where applicable, diaries to big data
  • Analysis of collected data seeking ‘insight!’

Ideas prioritisation

  • Produce compelling evidence based story
  • Presentation of findings
  • Workshop with team(s) to define priorities
  • On-going mentoring and support for team

… Then, recommend concept testing and development, and monitoring focused on action to drive change


Culture and community

Recent years have found people stuck in a juxtaposition of positive and not so positive impacts of life in an increasingly globally interconnected world. We are very much a global community – how exciting! Yet offsetting this is much associated stress, chaos and confusion. We explore our culture and evolving society, the joys and pain seeking solutions.

Brands and markets

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? What is the market size, unique segments, and the optimal strategy to maximise the likelihood of success?

Customer journey maps

Defining a customer journey is critical exercise for any customer focused enterprise. To understand the path of customers, pain points and how to more optimally encourage a smooth process. From initial trigger to conversion and advocacy. We match emotions, information needs, drivers / barriers, pain points and opportunities to critical steps in the journey.

Economic impact

Money makes the world go around, be this businesses selling more units at the optimal price or defining the key market segments to target willing to pay more in order to optimise the profit. Or, government and other funding providers of the arts and events. Research can play a critical role in finding the pricing sweet-spot, and measuring the impact of our arts and culture.

Square Holes conducts research for a wide-range of government, commercial and other clients.

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