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5 Techniques To Uncover The Truth

Intellectual Alibis and posturing are natural human behaviours and interesting challenges to overcome when searching for insight. One example sticks in my mind from a few years ago when I visited a lovely family at their home before going out for an accompanied meal. Despite telling her we would just take her as we found her the house was immaculate and she and the children were dressed in their ‘Sunday Best’. She sat on the edge of the sofa with her hands tightly clasped ready to take our questions and my heart sank. The children were also sitting nicely on the sofa as instructed by their mother. I knew this seemly impenetrable facade was going to be tough to break down by even the best efforts of myself and my colleague. She told us about family life and painted a picture of perfection. We asked about her family’s eating habits at home and said she bought organic and the only treats were raw fruit. As we chatted the children became restless, disappeared into the kitchen, emerged waving in their hands the most unhealthy day-glow sweets you have ever seen and asked to eat them as they do every night! The lady was so crestfallen and horrified! The game was up and she suddenly relaxed and started to tell us the truth.

We were lucky that day and the children destroyed the facade. So how can you break down those barriers?

Get permission to look in respondents cupboards

This is invaluable on home visits and will overcome all the posturing. Not all respondents with be happy with this but if you get permission at the point of recruitment then everyone is fully prepared for what is going to happen.

Look at actual purchase data

Diaries are okay but they rely on the respondent capturing everything accurately. If you really want to know what people are buying and consuming purchase data is the best option.

I’m not a fan of focus groups as I see the most posturing and lies when consumers are in this setting. They want to look amazing in front of others and are reluctant to show their true feelings to the group. However, they do have limited uses and there are two ways you can dig deeper.

Ask them to write down their answers before sharing them with the group

When you are asking for responses to something I have found if they have to write their answers down first without discussing it as a group they tend to be more truthful and will stick with their original answer than being influenced by the group.

Use projective techniques

These techniques can be very useful in a focus group and help consumers to articulate what they feel about something. You can ask them to describe a brand as a celebrity/animal etc to help to unpick their perceptions.

Collage Creation

I have used collage creation as a very useful way to unlock consumers’ thoughts and feelings. They are given a set of diverse images and asked to create a collage in answer to a key question to for the brand such as “create a collage to describe the way you feel about visiting fast food restaurants”. A great way of uncovering the truth!

This is just a snapshot of the range of techniques you can use. To find out more please contact us.

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