For my Design Planning Workshop, my project team has been tasked by a major retailer with gaining a better understanding of shopping and retail experiences among Generation Y and how the company can gain a greater share of wallet among this age group as they become an even larger force in the market.
Using ID methods and tools, we are beginning by digging into secondary research and conducting extensive primary research including camera-journal studies, one-on-one interviews, shop-alongs and more. We're looking for insights that will allow us to form hypotheses, and then concept and deliver recommendations to the client. We are conducting in-home interviews with the participants from the camera-journal study, and are therefore limited to the Chicago area.
So, how do we follow Gen Yers in other parts of the country as they go through their daily routines, following their shopping experiences and purchases, their interaction with media and the like? Our team had the idea to use Twitter, which if you're unfamiliar, is a site that allows you to tell the world in 140 characters or less, what you're doing via instant messaging, cell phone text messages or the site itself. Or as the site says,
A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?
The idea is a Web 2.0 version of beeper studies from the 90's, with a handful of Gen Yers from all over the U.S. recruited to create Twitter accounts and then, for a period of 3 days, they Twitter their way through their daily life.
From the time they get up in the morning until the time they go to bed, the participants send updates to Twitter when they go shopping (online or off), make purchases, see or experience something remarkable, etc. On the last day, we provide them with a gift certificate for use at the retailer client and ask them to report on that experience as well.
Since Twitter posts are time-stamped, we're able to then download all their posts, sort them by day and time and gain insights on their habits. We then follow up with phone interviews to clarify posts, gain context and ask some follow up questions.
The benefits are great:
- Gain insights in real time
- Understand shopping and purchase habits regardless of geography
- Thoughts are documented online and time-stamped for later review
- No hordes of researchers hanging over the participant's shoulder
- Quick feedback with little cost and easily scalable
We'll see how it works and I'll post on the results in a few weeks. It could turn out to be a neat new research method. Haven't seen this done elsewhere, has anyone else?