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Tales from the garden

The lowdown on the Prosper Riley-Smith finalist, Ferro Explore, and its project with Philips Lighting.

Philips Lighting, following its acquisition of Massive, had entered a new market, garden lighting. Sales were good, but it wanted to improve the brand's performance by introducing new innovative garden lighting concepts based on strong consumer insights. First, though, it needed a better understanding of consumer needs in relation to gardens, and sought insights with the potential to really effect change.

For Philips Lighting it was very important to involve the whole interdisciplinary team: researchers, technicians, marketers, designers. It wanted them not only to "read research outcomes" but also to "live" them. So we took a narrative approach with several stages and placed a heavy workshop load on to the Philips Lighting team.

This guaranteed both a high "imagination" factor and the means to better "pull" Philips into the consumer world. In the workshops we co-created insights with the multi-disciplinary team, a way of ensuring maximum impact. The following is a short description of the various phases:

  • Gathering of "garden stories": Ferro Explore! and Philips visited selected consumers and elicited over 300 engaging oral garden tales.

  • Workshops with consumer to get insights from the stories: found the consumer archetypes (illustrated by an artist) and themes.

  • Workshops with Philips using the same stories: this threw up differences in interpretation between the "Philips view" and the "consumer view".

  • Mass qualitative story gathering in three countries (involving 300 consumers): consumers were encouraged to identify their story by answering a set of simple questions that added a layer of meaning. These could relate to the story's emotional tone, or its values. Alternatively, each story could be placed on a triangle each of whose corners represented a semantic value (such as openness/privacy/safety). These tags gave a comparative means of questioning the story database later, looking for patterns in the metadata, and then finding stories that matched those data.

  • To achieve greater insights, we gave the Philips staff homework: visiting garden shops, special gardens and landscape architects for context.

  • Workshops to create "connected insights" based on the previous phases and to create new product ideas.

  • Mass qualitative narrative testing of ideas (We asked 1,200 consumers: imagine this idea was on the market and used in your garden. What stories could you tell us about it?). This created a narrative database containing all the stories, which could be analysed based on the metadata (for instance, all negative stories of younger respondents who indicate their story is about "openness" rather than "safety"). This could be used in further development and proved to be an instrument of much greater impact than the traditional "research outcomes".

The whole approach is seen by Philips Lighting as highly effective. The co-creation of insight proved to be a very strong method, empowering its staff with a bright vision on "what moves consumers and how they can be moved beyond". The quality of these insights led to concepts that were really good, even by Philips" very high standards.

 

Jochum Stienstra
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2011