By Maury Giles

The 2020 pandemic has accelerated technology adoption and innovation in almost every facet of our personal and professional lives. While not every new tech experience lives up to its promise, this dynamic has opened meaningful new ways for people to interact. 

Importantly for our industry, the widespread shift online also opens new ways for us to connect with the human experience.

This trend led us to explore ways to use our Illumination Lab (iLab) tool and the Zoom platform to create a novel primary research experience online. The method enables deep exploration with a large group of consumers – 20 to 50 at a time – in a single session, immediately followed by smaller moderated breakout sessions probing more deeply on their earlier responses.

It is like doing 4-6 in person groups in a single night, but getting detailed responses from EVERY respondent. And it feels similar to doing a quant segmentation followed by a qualitative deep dive, all with many of they cherished dynamics of a 1:1 in-depth interview. And, again, all in one night!

This online, large scale segmented qual is a powerful insights tool that COVID dynamics have enabled. Nearly everyone now knows how to use Zoom with relative ease. The practice of toggling between multiple apps on your device is commonplace, even for older participants. As a result, the sessions are fun, interactive, and compelling for our clients.

This approach is perfect for testing concepts, messaging, white space, or innovation territories. It has also proven effective for issue, policy, or positioning exploration. You get to profile people through “survey” work, then immediately probe them for deeper understanding. 

The iLab lets you gauge individual reactions to stimuli, ideas, and/or themes via typewritten responses. Language matters. And it is captured realtime from each participant on the fly. 

The Zoom breakout sessions allow you to create custom segments based on how people respond to the iLab survey, rating, and/or open-ended probing questions from the first hour. The tool makes it easy, then, to facilitate smaller group discussions so you can close any gaps ion learning or clarify their documented answers from the first hour.

Ultimately, the technique takes advantage of a cultural trend driven by the pandemic. It yields actionable insights from emergent consumer segments. And it will arm you with human understanding to empower more effective decision-making.

Contact us at Heart+Mind to help you connect with your audience in this time of rapid, massive change.


About the Author

Maury Giles is the Chief Growth Officer at Heart+Mind Strategies. A story-teller at heart, Maury is a three-time David Ogilvy Award winner for his work at Wirthlin Worldwide, Omnicom’s GSD&M, and PURSUIT.