Street Research Insights

How do you get inside the head of your customer? What really motivates them, and how do you reach them where they are?

Our current answer is a dual-learning model. We bring companies we’ve trained in design thinking together with people who are also training in design thinking to collaborate on insights.

Applegate Farms works with us to develop a more agile and autonomous atmosphere of innovation. Coming to this workshop to get insights about their customers and products (instead of paying a consultancy to tell them what to do) is one way they’re changing their culture.

This class had three phases:

1. Workshop One: The Company and the Class interact, exchanging information and framing the challenge.

2. Field Work: The Class goes out into the world and does low-barrier ethnography – one-on-one interviews, shadows, intercepts.

3. Workshop Two: The Class comes back with their user research and synthesizes it, pitching back their findings .

Why should this company listen to these people? Firstly, they were an astounding assortment of people, that any company would want to have in their corner. They work in the Mayor’s office, as business consultants to the mental health industry, VPs at ad agencies, doctors and teachers. Secondly, they were able to bring in about 50 user profile data points – far more on-the-ground insight than most market research firms can complete in the same time frame.


The first group focused on interviewing families while grocery shopping and at the butchers. They thought that health would drive decisions more than they heard from their interviews. They pointed out that taste and quality of the product were more important than labels and brand.

The Second group peered into the extremes: A Key Foods in Bushwick and the Dean and Deluca store in SoHo. What they found was a hazy middle section of consumers. Sandwiched in between the extremely informed and those who don’t want to be informed are a large segment of people who know some buzzwords and know they “should” care more than they act on.  What will get this “twilight zone” of people into the more active region of engaged customers? Ethics and health played a role, but very few do research before going into the store. Their data and insights sorted on ‘hyper-informed vs. disengaged’ by location is pretty interesting.

Group Three felt that some buzzwords fell into the noise…they look at ingredients, and want to compare items in the store, where it seems that many purchasing decisions are being made. Applegate products should be placed side by side with other products to allow users to see the better ingredients and healthier product that Applegate provides.

Group Four insights included the recognition of “single” issue voters on food, and that labels needed to have information as clear as possible in order to win them over.


Daniel Stillman
[email protected]
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