Highs and Lows from a Global In-home and Shopalong Study

Last week I gave an overview of one of my favorite projects from last year, a global qualitative study on beverages. I thought you might like to see what a few days in my life look like when I’m doing this kind of work…

For my last interview in New York, four of us (me; the videographer; the client; and someone from the research company that hired me, who was mainly tasked with taking notes and pictures) took a car service to the outer reaches of Brooklyn, where our respondent, a guy in his twenties, lived in a basement apartment with a roommate. We’d talk to him for an hour, then the roommate and two other friends (their bandmates, it turned out) would come for the second hour.

The apartment looked and smelled exactly the way you would expect the apartment of two late-twenties guys to look and smell. Because there were only four chairs (and four respondents), I ended up sitting on the floor to moderate the discussion. The note taker stood at the kitchen counter with her laptop; our client, along to observe, lurked in the bathroom doorway. We got some interesting insights, and the guys each got $150. We bid them farewell and were off to India.

On our first day in Mumbai, our translator told us that the city’s population was 1 million (it’s actually closer to 12 million). I worried about what else she might be leading us astray on as our Hindi-speaking respondents rambled on about their beverage behaviors, but we ended up learning a ton. The last few respondents chose to be interviewed in English, which was great– although we were stumped when they referred to almonds as “dry fruits.”

From India we flew to Casablanca, where every home we visited had the same stiff, brocade-covered sofas along two walls and trays of the same sweet mint tea and dates for us to nosh on during the interviews. We did one interview in a coffee shop where a soccer game was playing; our video had to be edited to cut out all the roars when the favorite team scored. After a week there, we had had enough “avocado juice” (a delicious concoction of milk, sugar, dates and avocados) to last a lifetime and headed home to start writing the huge report that could only begin to capture our adventure.

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Founder of Southpaw Insights