What you can pick up from an hour of powerful observation
This week we set our innovation team an afternoon challenge: with London as your canvas, what clues can you uncover in just one hour of powerful observation?
We split into teams and each took a slice of London life to explore, ranging from academic London to creative London, London youths to ageing in London. Happen innovation consultants are trained to notice things that others miss, through heightened sensory acuity and buckets of curiosity. By tuning yourself to be on high alert for clues you’ll up your chances of spotting things that might reveal new consumer behaviours, remembering that context is the key to unlocking the deeper reasons why consumers are behaving in a certain way.
Some highlights from our hour of observation:
Ageing in London
One group joined a healthy hearts circuit class at the YMCA, exercising with the over 50’s and over 70’s:
• The over 50’s class were more focused on socialising, and exercise as we know it
• While the over 70’s class were more focused on staying mobile
• After the class finished many then used the space as an opportunity to socialise – one lady even brought Bakewell tarts to share with her friends!
Youths in London
Another group headed to Oxford Street to shop and mingle with the younger generations and this is what they observed:
• A demo against terrorism in Oxford Street
• Negative statement ironic t-shirts vs hyper sexual clothing
• Sensory overload with bright lights, club music, mirrors on every pillar
• Selfies taken in-store as well as reviewing personal photostream of selfies on phones, just selfies – no other types of activities seem to have been recorded!
Central Saint Martins was the chosen hub of creative activity to explore:
• Mixed range of drinks in the bar from detox juices to cocktails and fizz
• No rules apply to traditional meal times – eat what you want when you want
Another group headed to The Geffrye Museum to explore the history of the way people live:
• Home-grown creature comforts – food delivery to our door, provenance of ingredients, comforting products from our homeland
To experience the Latin-American community hub in London some of the team visited the Severn Sisters Indoor Market:
• Despite the amount of food and drink stalls here, this space has become much more about community than commerce
We also explored the space inside The Wellcome Collection which describes itself as the destination for the incurably curious – a must-see for all curious innovators:
• Architects and designers can try to control how we move through a space, but ultimately everyone is different and will experience it in their own way
• The changes in energy through the space – high energy in the café with loads of engagement vs quiet reflection in other spaces
Blue Collar London
Another group went to central Wetherspoon pubs to experience the atmosphere on a mid-week afternoon and this is what they spotted:
• Solitude while surrounded by others
• Male consumers, alone, with more than one drink in front of them
• Quiet space with no music
• A pint lasts longer than a coffee
Kids in London
• Differing levels of energy/personality when kids are by themselves, with their peers, with their teachers, with their parents
• The ritual of the treaty after-school snack – every parent was waiting with a snack in hand for their kids
• London through a child’s eyes: some can’t see out of the bus window as they are too short
Women in London
• A sense that the market has yet to catch up with shifts in gender stereotypes: magazines are selling sexy women but most of the women on the street were wearing flats, comfort is key
• Men are encroaching on women’s spaces: a separate barber shop inside the female-focused Aveda salon
Observing clues is just the start; the next step is to connect the clues and create hypotheses that explain the consumer behaviour and the motivations behind those clues in the form of an insight.
Check out some examples of winning insights we’ve worked on here.