Go Out and Explore!

Too often we substitute the ease of exploration on the internet for actual experience. But it’s really not the same.

Maybe we’re too busy, maybe we’re lazy…but I think if you are really serious about innovation you’ve got to get out and experience the world.

A few years back I was working as part of a team of consultants on a re-positioning for a pet food brand.

We met with the clients, read the research decks, did our competitive scavenger hunt online.

But it was months into the project when I realized we had yet to come face to face with an actual dog or cat, or their human companions for that matter.

So we quickly turned that around. We went into pet stores and talked to people who worked there and people who shopped there.

We went to the famous “dog run” in Central Park and observed and interacted with pet owners and their offspring and got to see first hand the behaviors and rules of social interaction on “doggie play dates”.

We did an in-home interview with a puppy owner who calmly told us how she didn’t treat her dog like a human baby, but her body language revealed something all together different as she lovingly stroked her Cockapoo.

The reserach decks and internet gave us valuable information for the project. But the real world and person to person efforts gave us something that was much more valuable…insight.

A great team exploration activity that I’ve used successfully for both clients and internal audiences is a Brand Safari.

Here’s how it works: split the group into smaller teams, pick neighborhoods or landmarks, equip each with a map, a camera and a list of tasks or questions and then send them off into the real world.

Set a time limit so there’s a sense of urgency and healthy competition. Encourage interaction with real consumers at their destinations. Re-group when everyone comes back to the office and share what you’ve learned.

The best way to get insight into consumers and brands is to go out and experience the world – not the computer generated world- the real one.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
What inspirational places would be on your Brand Safari list?

3 thoughts on “Go Out and Explore!

  1. Nothing better for gaining insights and unexpected ideas than observation and ethnographic research. You can end with sharing the observations from the Brand Safari (love the name, by the way) or you can go full bore after that into persona development to really dimensionalize your target audience. The thing that kills me is when clients describe their target audience as Female 35+. Seriously. When you try to market to an abstraction you deliver an abstract campaign that no real human beings can relate to. Getting to the human, behavioral, relatable, insight-driven strategy requires getting out there and bringing the audience to life.

  2. I would include historical landmarks in the safari. Once the destination is reached, speak with visitors and tourist and ask what the landmark represents to them, what emotions they feel being there and does it live up to their expectations.

  3. Great comments. I agree, bland briefs lead to mediocre work. I like to do Brand Personification exercises where you bring target to life. What's their secret passion, what's in their waller etc. Like creating a character in a novel. So you could almost recognize them when they walk in the door. I also love landmarks as stops on a Brand Safari. Anyone got any specific ones to recommend?

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