Want Good Research? Need Innovation? Go to the Dog Park.

If you want good research to innovate, don’t go focus group.  Go guerrilla.  Go to where your consumers are.  Where your customers actually do real things in real-time under real conditions.  This is where you can have casual, comfortable conversations.  And where you can make observations and gather subtle insights that consumers would never even think to articulate, let alone be comfortable enough to mention in a sterile focus group setting.

By way of example, on a client assignment several months back, elevation spent a couple of weeks with dog owners.  We went to dog parks, backyards and trails.  We hung out.  And yes, we learned a lot by striking up casual conversations.  But where we learned even more: observing subtleties and taking note of the occasional frustrated look on a dog owner’s face.  In particular, many dog owners tried to tie their dog’s leashes up to trees, fences, park benches, etc. (while answering their cell phone, checking their email, stopping for a sip of coffee or to chat).  More times than not, the leash would slip and the owner would have to lunge after or chase their dog.

From this, elevation created a series of leashes that easily attach/detach to trees, poles, fences, benches and more.  The result: two feet of incremental shelf space at a major national pet store retailer for our client – and a competitor who never saw this shelf space raid coming.  All because we went guerrilla and went to the dog park.