Data isn’t that interesting. The rise of creative research methods is.
My dad keeps sending me TikToks. The content consists primarily of remixed Bowie concert clips and snowboard tricks. It’s pretty interesting/scary in itself, but this newfound family hobby points to a wider trend we’re seeing — people are becoming less predictable. The world changed, covid happened and a tonne of new channels, subcultures, and types of content appeared. It is an incredibly interesting time to be in communication design. Predictability is out and creativity is in.
We can no longer rely on data, numbers are being replaced with collections of patterns, grassroots trends, and shared views creating virality. What data lacks is an in-depth and necessary analysis of audience intent & needs. So, how can strategy adapt?
Here are a couple of alternative ways to approach market research…
This activity is really helpful for projects where you can’t directly interview the target audiences due to logistics, budget, etc. Traditionally, personas are created by the project team in response to a research phase — combining market data with client workshops. It’s effective and says to the client, “We’ve taken it all in and we understand the humans you’re trying to reach.” Internally, you can use these personas as a constant ‘return to base’ to validate your concepts.
With a bit of planning and creativity, you can supercharge these personas by getting diverse people in a room pretending to be people. These co-creation sessions can begin by presenting the standard market data as an intro session. From here, focus on facilitating a workshop that gets your team and your clients to create characters and roleplay their situation, needs, and intent.
Some tips on how to run a good co-creation persona workshop:
To harp back to my dad’s newfound love for TikTok, social media is now a staple across most generations in most parts of the world. It’s used extensively by businesses, communities, and individuals. A social media analysis gives strategists real-time insight into cultures, subcultures, and what’s making people tick.
Here are some unconventional ways we use social media as a research tool:
To summarise, the point is that an effective research process in this new climate can (and I would argue) should be creative. Keep the data analysis, keep the stakeholder questionnaires, and definitely keep the workshops. But, take into account that social media now leads all trends — changing how businesses and people think. Apply that thinking to channel exploration and/or planning your next co-creation workshop.
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