Wharton MBA’s Martin Lautman Ph.D on Mobile Video Qualitative Research and mindswarms


In a collaboration between Wharton MBA’s Marketing class and mindswarms, students under the guidance of Martin Lautman Ph.D tested early stage concepts with potential target audiences. Some of the student concepts went on to get venture funding, others pivoted based on the feedback they got via mindswarms.


Although Dr. Lautman is a strong advocate of the power of Big Data and A.I., he feels that the field is largely analytic, and not interpretive.


The missing piece, according to Dr. Lautman, is the lack of emotional understanding behind the numbers that Big Data provide. mindswarms, he says, taps into how humans relate to information more intuitively, and completes the picture to provide more sound guidance.


Download the highlights of the video transcript here.


Ogilvy’s Leslie Stone on Mobile Video Qualitative Research and mindswarms

When mindswarms founder Tom Basset recently sat down in Brooklyn to interview Ogilvy NYC’s Director of Strategic Services, Leslie Stone, he wondered if the whole thing was going sideways right from the start.


Leslie began by provocatively saying, “I think online basically ruined qualitative research.”



She went on to say that the many tools and techniques she had honed over her career in qual research and strategy didn’t easily migrate to digital platforms. Despite her proven success with past research techniques, and the genuine pleasure in human connection she found in using them, many of her core, go-to research techniques simply weren’t thriving in the digital world.


Her experience with mindswarms changed that.

The Freedom and Serendipity of mobile video qualitative research


As Leslie describes it, mindswarms differentiates itself from other digital research tools and platforms in a few key ways:


  • Respondents via mindswarms are highly self-directed; the mobile video selfie format gives them the latitude to respond in ways most relevant to them.
  • The self-directed nature of responses via mobile video eliminates moderator bias and supports ethnographic observations, which tend to be absent from other forms of digital research.
  • In mobile video qualitative research, the serendipitous observations (of environment, interactions and emotion) made possible through video are often as valuable as what participants say directly.


To amplify these aspects of mobile video qualitative research, we often use the Show + Tell technique in mindswarms studies. If you’d like to see examples of how this works, this mindswarms best practices report profiles five mindswarms studies that used Show + Tell.

In-home research using mobile video studies


Participant freedom, comfort and serendipity are part of what makes mindswarms such a great fit for consumer insights research in the home, an environment rich with context for participant responses and opportunities for interactions.  Home is where many of life’s most important decisions are made: emotional, financial and experiential.


When asked about best uses of mobile video for ethnographic research, Leslie replied, “It’s a no-brainer for anything in the home, and ‘anything in the home’ could be any consumer good or any food or anything in your closet or shopping.”


It’s one thing to hear a description of a room, but it’s a different experience entirely to take a personal, narrated tour inside someone’s home.  Our mobile video study of Millennials & Home Cleaning is a perfect example.  (For in-depth analysis of lessons and insights learned from that study, read Tom’s in-depth article on LinkedIn.)


In our study with Leslie for Ogilvy, we asked people to show us their favorite room in their home and tell us about it.  It was amazing to see how animated people became in sharing the important details and emotional significance of a space they had crafted with such care.


Leslie reflected on partnering with mindswarms and using mobile video as a qualitative research tool: “One huge benefit is that I don’t have the time or resources to go do this myself.  It’s amazing to go home, come back in the next day and just watch videos.  It saves a gigantic amount of operational time.  I used to travel all over the place talking to people, and that was fun, but I don’t have the time to do that anymore.”


Using mindswarms for mobile video qualitative research gave Ogilvy a personal invitation into the homes and lives of people across the country–far from Ogilvy’s NYC office.  And we took the project from start to finish in less than a week.


Watch the video of our interview with Leslie and download interview highlights here.


Impulse Buying is Dead

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When we originally started the study that culminated in our latest report, we aimed to get a handle on how online shopping has affected the Hunter and Gatherer binary.  However, as the video responses to our question rolled in, we were struck by a prevalent theme: there was no passion in shopping.


As technology plays an increasingly bigger role in people’s lives, the impact is a vastly more rational relationship with shopping. Impulse buying is dying, and the charm of shopping in store appears to be dying along with it.


Download our report to learn more!



Selfie Culture is Driving The Cosmetic Boom

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A recent Washington Post article indicated that women are spending less on clothes, but more on cosmetics. The prestige beauty category saw a 7% increase in sales last year, while the makeup subcategory enjoyed a 13% increase in sales. Our report highlights the impact “selfie culture” has on millennial women’s increased spending. In the report, we cover how selfie culture creates a need to always be “beautiful,” engenders a fear of being caught without makeup, and affects the image of social and professional success.


Download our report to learn more!



Drivers Aren’t Afraid Of Self-Driving Cars

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AAA recently surveyed 1,832 drivers about various automotive topics. A major takeaway from the research was that 3 out of 4 drivers reported they would be afraid to allow a self-driving car to drive while they’re in it. We wanted to get a clearer picture of drivers’ fear so we ran a mobile video survey with participants that reported they were afraid of riding in a self-driving car. As their video responses came in, we noticed that these drivers weren’t highlighting a fear of technology. Instead, these drivers were afraid of giving up the act of driving.


Download our report to learn more.



Beer is losing Millennial attention

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The Wall Street Journal recently reported that beer lost a portion of its share of U.S. alcohol revenue in 2015 for the sixth consecutive year and the 12th time in the past 15 years, according to data released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Our team is obsessed with understanding the “why” behind data, so we set up a mobile video survey, and asked millennials why they were shifting from beer to liquor. Their answers told a personal story that big data only hints at. Download the report to understand why liquor is booming.



Who’s The Customer? 8 Questions That Complete a Buyer Persona

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When you’ve got a great idea for a new product or service, it’s easy to assume that just because you’ve always wanted something like it so will everyone else. And a lot of times, it’s true — that big idea actually does fill a gap in the market that customers will appreciate.
Just because you built it, doesn’t mean the users or clients will automatically come.
To ensure that your product or service is on the right track, it’s helpful to craft a buyer persona before you even get started.
“Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention,” according to Pamela Vaughan, writing for HubSpot.
Typically, when designing or developing a new product or service, it’s easy to get hung up on the actual usage — when your customers will use it, how it works and how you want them to view it. But these eight questions help you get outside of your usual thought process and really humanize the people who might love your product but may not find it if you don’t take the right marketing approach.


  1. Who is my ideal customer? How old are they, what’s their gender, where do they live?
  2. What is most important to this customer?
  3. What similar products or services do they already like?
  4. What do they like about those products and services?
  5. What media do they consume? How do they get their news?
  6. Which tastemakers do they follow?
  7. How often would they use this product or service? Why?
  8. What’s the difference between my product or service and a similar one that they may already be using? Why would they choose mine?

This exercise helps you figure out which other brands or services you’ll be positioned next to and what potential advertising opportunities might exist, based on your ideal buyer’s taste and lifestyle.
If you advertise on Facebook, what kinds of other ads or posts might yours end up next to? What will your website look like in your buyer’s RSS feed? Do they listen to podcasts, and could that be a good advertising opportunity?
If you’re still having a hard time visualizing the buyer, consider this tip from business consultant Kari Chapin: Use Pinterest to pin products, services, and ideas that your ideal customer might like.
By determining not just what your product is for, but who will use it and why, you can get a better idea of how to talk about, explain and publicize it when the time comes.
Image courtesy of Mufidah Kassalias. Image license here

What the Google app’s progress could mean for mobile research

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Yesterday, Google announced some big news in terms of understanding meaning and context in voice search. Check out their announcement HERE.
What this means for mobile video surveys (and mindswarms) is that in the longer term, there will be more – and better – analytics on the back end of the data collection. Transcripts are helpful for mobile video analytics, but they don’t provide the context necessary to accurately interpret respondents’ intent.
There is still a long way to go to extract meaningful and actionable consumer insight from mobile video surveys. But Google’s news today is an important step; and validation that extracting meaning in a scalable manner from voice is in the works.