Consumer Immersions

Our experience in immersions

Our Vibrand team is a senior team of researchers who each have over 25 years of experience in conducting immersions in both developing and developed markets and providing strong strategic direction based on these. We have conducted groups in rural areas while chickens clucked at our feet, chatted to consumers as they do their washing, stood in showers to witness the pain of cleaning grout and experienced the excitement of a stadium prior to a soccer match to name just a few immersive experiences.
What is an immersion?
Consumer immersions or ethnography involve spending time in your consumers’ natural environment in order to gain a deeper understanding of their needs, behaviour and experiences. It uses a combination of observation and conversation. For example the team may spend a day in a rural area to understand the challenges of everyday rural life and the product needs related to this. The insight gained from this experience is used to help better meet consumer needs and pain points.
Why conduct immersions?

Consumer immersion can be a powerful research approach as it allows the research and marketing team to move closer to the consumers’ life, thus creating empathy and understanding to develop meaningful solutions to consumer problems.

Immersions are a helpful methodology to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of consumer needs. M-PESA is a mobile money transfer and micro-financing service that was developed in response to understanding the unique challenges consumers in Africa face when accessing financial service.
  • Identify pain points. Woolworths developed their Easy to Cook range in response to the consumer pain point of not having the time to prepare healthy, home cooked meals.
  • To develop empathy for the consumer. Capitec Bank has demonstrated empathy to middle and low income earners in its development of financial products and services, such as offering low cost-banking products and providing financial education and advice.
  • To generate new insights in order to generate innovation. The WATER ATM is an innovation that was developed in response to the need for safe drinking water in areas where piped water is not available. These are low cost, self-contained, automated water vending machines that store clean water.
  • To test assumptions about the target audience. For example Lego made the assumption that boys were their key target market, but managed to turn the brand around when they realised that girls were interested in building sets and expanded their product offering to target girls.
How do we conduct immersions at Vibrand?

As immersions require in-depth engagement with consumers we conduct them using one or more of the following qualitative techniques:

  • Observation/ethnography – this involves observing and interacting with consumers in their own environment to gain insight into their experience and behaviour, e.g. at home, at work, in a shop, etc.
  • In-depth interviews – these are one on one, semi-structured interviews to engage with the consumer in their own environment. They typically work hand in hand with observation.
  • Accompanied shopping trips – these are retail specific immersions where we accompany the shopper as they go about their shopping trip. It enables us to observe the shopper’s actions and the store environment using these as a springboard for discussion.
  • Vox pops – these are short semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted in store. We spontaneously recruit shoppers while they are in an area of the store of interest to discuss their actions, their purchase decision, etc.
  • Focus groups – immersion focus groups may be conducted in-home providing an environment that is similar to the respondents’ home. This allows the research and marketing team a chance to immerse themselves in the natural environment of the consumer.
  • Digital diaries/journals – here individual consumers or a group of consumers share photos, videos, text and voice notes which reflect their own environment/experience. This is a great visual way to gain insight into a consumer’s life.
  • Digital Depth Interviews – these are one on one qualitative interviews conducted via WhatsApp with a sample of consumers over the course of 3 days. We can use them to spend quality time with consumers, e.g. asking them to send videos of recreational activities, chatting to them about their hopes and dreams, etc.