News & Perspectives

Market Research and the Art of Listening

Market Research and the Art of Listening

Perspective// Posted by: Christine Mason / 17 Mar 2014

When you work in early stage technologies, market research has some added mandates. Of course it must support of strategy formulation, including messaging and positioning and pricing and targeting, but you have to speak the language of the defiantly “new” – and understand the dynamics at work when introducing radically new concepts. This is for 2 reasons. First, people often don’t know what they want until they see it (in the case of radically new offerings or categories), so will say no to something that actually does meet an underlying need, if not explained in a context that relates to their need. Second, people also gravitate to what is familiar to them, which therefore creates bias toward incremental change, not toward revolutionary or really big ideas.

Quantitative surveys at this stage are used for specific purposes, and carry less weight than in mature markets. So, while we leverage numbers when it’s relevant, we always begin with extracting qualitative “aha moments” from key stakeholders and target audiences, using a process we call Immersive Listening. In addition to experienced business strategists, everyone on our team has training or experience in a soft science: a master’s in speech therapy, extensive psycho-social coursework or training, yoga and meditation, NVC coursework, somatic training – and even conscious parenting. When we do interviews, we listen as humanists to the whole person, and filter with a strategist’s mind.

Words are only one element of feedback to an idea. We guide the conversation based on multiple signposts other than the initially expressed opinion, such as:

  • Indicators of an underlying need
  • Facial and body cues indicating a holdback or unexpressed desires
  • Trigger, unusual or colorful language
  • Experiential-based bias
  • Voice and body triggers indicating degree of conviction

And we listen to a wide variety of stakeholders to make sure the opinions we gather synthesize strategic intent, operational constraints and market potential, including but not limited to Founders, Shareholders, Experts, Clients, Target Market, Customers, and Employees.

Immersive Listening™ for Qualitative Insight: 1st person research at Milsal McCaull

  • Recruiting and conducting 10 – 20 people Focus Groups
  • Identifying, recruiting and conducting in depth interviews with subject matter experts
  • Identifying, recruiting and conducting In depth interviews with representative customers

Other research approaches for clients:

  • Writing, conducting and interpreting online surveys
  • Competitive Research (Qualitative/Positioning, Numerical, Intelligence)
  • 3rd party Quantitative Research
  • Research Aggregation
Christine Mason
Christine maps new markets for emerging technologies, scouts for strategic expansion opportunities, and guides internal innovation strategies for leading companies.