Consumer Insights Research

There is rarely, if ever, one right answer, but some are better than others, many are unexpected, and oftentimes they are not the answers a client wants to hear. (Okay, we aren’t for everyone.) We see market research as much more than interviews and mood boards. Research is a chance to experiment and explore; a chance to create; a chance for brands to gain meaningful understanding of real-life experiences from the people they want to reach.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
Consumer Insights Research


If you want to get to know real people, spend a day with them in their lives.

  • Meet them for coffee at 6 a.m. while their family is still in bathrobes.
  • Ride around on duty in a police car or a garbage truck.
  • Peel potatoes. (Watch your fingers.)
  • Join hands during prayers.
  • Eat pizza in the basement.
  • Go skateboarding under the Brooklyn Bridge. (Yes, we really did that.)
  • Hold the hand of a man in a hospital bed as he fights cancer.

This is where life and death takes place, and if you want to learn about the people who will use your products, you need to go there.

Ethnographic film on Dungeons & Dragons produced in partnership with a Plannerzone client.

Traditional Focus Groups

Marketers love to complain about focus groups—and why shouldn’t they. Luminaries like Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer have made a career out of debunking focus groups as a research tool. And we couldn’t agree more!

A focus group is a tool for gathering perspectives. It is a way to learn how some see the world. It is not as insightful as ethnography but it is faster, cheaper and more convenient.

But not all focus groups are the same.

We conduct ours more like salons where people with unique knowledge and experience—the people who are or may be your customers—get to speak expansively about something they are knowledgeable about. The conversations are both challenging and invigorating.

Focus groups fail when employed to solve the wrong problem. Groups can help you trouble shoot creative, but they can’t help you pick it. They can help you understand how some people use media, but they can’t help test a media plan.

Channel Insights

Decisions about distribution channels are crucial to the success of any product. Products can be recalled and ads can be pulled, but managing a distribution channel is a long-term investment with high switching costs.

Oftentimes the most agile and formidable competitors in a category are those that can successfully integrate their marketing and distribution strategies. At Plannerzone we help our clients understand the human factors in channel marketing, allowing them to discover new opportunities to enhance their competitive position, not just brand vs. brand, but channel vs. channel.

In our work with national retailers, insurance companies, hospitals, and financial services firms, we’ve learned to explore the weave and wander of distribution channels.

Home Product Trials

New tools available on the internet make it easier to conduct home product trials and gather almost instantaneous response at either the qualitative or quantitative level.
During product trials for a value priced laundry detergent brand, we used simultaneous qualitative and quantitative research methods to find explanations for the product’s double-digit decline in sales within a category that (for key competitor brands) was growing. The research objective was targeted to specific product characteristics that drive perception of brand performance—characteristics that had been cut back over the years as a cost saving measure.

Online Research

Online is one of the few remaining viable methods for conducting affordable quantitative research. It is fast effect and highly targetable.

We have extensive experience fielding work in a variety of online venues, including Revelation, 20|20, Mommy Blogs (Mom’s Like me), and private blogs for qualitative research.

Audiences reached through our online work:
Women who buy baby clothes at Walmart
Brokers who resell municipal bonds to high net-worth individuals
Loan officers who routinely review credit reports
A short post on an ethnographic blog for a study on coffee consumption among moms.
Online is the perfect venue for the truly hard to find. During one project we generated over 600 pages of content from dungeon masters who lead D&D encounters. In another we led a discussion about travel vaccinations with GPs, immunologists, and epidemiologists. In yet another we inspired a highly emotional conversation among women in Europe and the US who had tried and failed to get pregnant three times in the year prior to our study.

Product Development Research

Where do great product ideas come from? From creative minds. (Sorry, were you expecting another flow chart?)

It takes an open mind and a clear horizon to look at the world, see an opportunity that no one else sees, and match it up with a workable solution. Novel and effective product concepts are few and far between, but the success rate for new product development can be improved by researching key product attributes and understanding the needs of lead users.

“I like when my dishes to sparkle like this.” An excerpt from a consumer journal used during product development for dishwasher detergent.
Our goal in product development research is not pick the winners or the losers. Our job is to gather the information that will inform critical thinking by specialists with expert knowledge. We record consumer experience to guide the creative thinker, and capture market knowledge contained within the competitive products and innovations. Our team can help you research and develop early stage concepts, looking for new information that can be used to refine creative thinking. No voting—No testing—Just observation, questions, and critical evaluation.

Connections Planning

Customer satisfaction scores and some specialty tools like Net Promoter have tried to provide an objective measure of customer relationships, both across and within brand categories. While these tools may measure degrees of satisfaction, they don’t explore how people engage with the brands they love, why emotional attachment occurs, or which touch-points make all the difference.

Motista, an application built on validated proprietary tools and an evolving database of thousands of surveys, can define how and why a brand engages with customers. Using its dashboard, marketers can identify and enhance the touch-points that drive consumer engagement.

This web-based application provides Fortune 1000 brands with on-demand consumer insights.

“Building on its database of consumer research, Motista’s consumer connection platform provides marketers with the ability to see, for example, whether or not the people following their business on social networks have a stronger connection to their brand — and if they actually buy more of the product as a result. The startup’s web-based app also enables marketers to answer questions, test and justify hypotheses, view their highest performing connections, and explore competitor data.”


“Motista’s real-time data pool allows marketers to quickly access fresh consumer intelligence that can be translated into specific campaign directives.”