Why we use conversations, not interviews, to drive insights.

More flexibility leads to better insights for brands and businesses.

Barry W. Enderwick

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The single best way to gain insights into your customer, and your potential customers, is to talk to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that enterprises big or small ask customers what they want. But I am advocating for them to think of their customer as the treasure trove of insights that they are.

Over the course of my career, starting at Netflix, I have been fortunate to learn what real consumer research actually is and why it is important. When done well, it provides the insights that can move mountains.

The problem most folks run into though is that they have a vested interest in the results. This means, without even knowing it, they tend to seek validation — rather than insights. The good news is that there are ways to escape the gravitational pull of validation.

Trust the process

If you’d asked me when I left Netflix, I would’ve said that consumer research is great for just that — consumer research. But one of the most interesting things that I’ve learned since is that it can be applied to nearly anything. From brand positioning to messaging for an NGO to gaining adoption of an open-source software solution. That’s because insights don’t just drive brand and marketing, they drive everything.

Both qualitative and quantitative have important roles to play in providing those insights. Qualitative tends to be focus groups and one-on-one interviews — and are more personal. This provides deeper insights, whereas quantitative is less personal — and can be anything from a survey to A/B testing.

At Kaizen Creative Partnership, as we did at Netflix, we always started with qualitative, as it allows us to have respondents “ladder.” That is, get to the “why” behind their answers. And there are a lot of reasons why qualitative research is great.

The benefits of conversations

Our qualitative research method is to personally have one-on-one conversations, for about an hour. And while we do have a list of questions we use as a discussion guide, that allows us to get insights…

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Barry W. Enderwick

Brand/marketing executive, Kaizen (ex Netflix). I write on startups, strategy, business, culture & design. Also Sandwiches Of History on Insta/TikTok/YouTube