Drive Results with Your Business Strategy by Mining the Subconscious

About a 2 minute read

Authors
Eileen Sullivan
Director, Qualitative Insights & Strategy

The quantitative division of CMB designs surveys that identify the what – how many, how long, how big, how much – but qualitative market researchers are tasked with finding the why behind the what. The tricky part is, it’s not always as simple as just asking “why?”

What do we risk by just asking? While we may voice our authentic attitudes/beliefs/behaviors/selves some of the time, oftentimes what we say is what we want to project (case study: Instagram!). What we want others to perceive we think, or feel isn’t always what we actually think or feel. What we think are our reasons sometimes aren’t actually the same when we look deep-down within ourselves, and sometimes we may not even know what we think or feel about a given thing. Convoluted, isn’t it? The point is, qualitative research is not the business of taking things at face value – a Quallie’s job is to mine the gold that underlies everything: what drives us to do what we do and feel what we feel.

Below are some strategies qualitative researchers use to dig into the subconscious mind, and unearth richer, deeper insights:

  • Narrative: organizing information, constructing meaning, and communicating aspects of ourselves in the stories we tell is critical to uncovering insights. Quallies often leverage the TEDW framework (below) to elicit the information we want to know within the context of the way our participants tell their story.
    • Tell me more…
    • Explain that to me…
    • Describe what that was like…
    • Walk me through your experience…
  • Laddering: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often referenced as a framework for understanding human motivation. Qual researchers employ laddering techniques to explore how products/services/brands can tap into higher order benefits.
    • For example, this technique begins with a product’s attributes, ladders to the benefits and then to the meaning a participant makes of those benefits. While initial responses are likely concrete and rational, laddering enables researchers to reach more abstract and emotional territory, and understand how products, experiences, and brands can help people reach higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy.
  • Mind mapping: sometimes we even surprise ourselves with the connections we make, and mind mapping is a tool researchers deploy to see where participants minds go when put to the task. A mind map extends an individual’s thinking about a product, company or topic, and can move someone past a single thought or experience to previously unidentified associations, and even emotional discoveries.

Uncovering the emotional underpinnings of your brand can be a daunting task but engaging with a firm such as CMB can help you discover what the subconscious mind is thinking about. Let’s start the conversation today.