Context Is Everything: The Power of In-home Interviews

In-home interviews are often overlooked as a method to learn about consumers. They can be thought of as too expensive, geographically limited or time consuming. But the learning is invaluable, as it’s a wonderful view into the true context of products and consumer lifestyles. Context is key to marketing success because it helps us keep the consumer front and center in our strategy development and planning. Every consumer approaches a usage or purchase occasion with the following three contextual considerations. In-homes may be the ideal way to understand them.


Values in context: Values in context are not limited to issues of price, public school or private school, Southern or Northern. These are, instead, elements that are learned through exposure to people over time and imprinting a value system: a way of acting, looking at and communicating in the world. Spending time with consumers in their kitchens, living rooms, garages and yards will show you what is important to them, and what is really not part of their value system. For example, discussing how a consumer spends their free time can illustrate how much they value spirituality, physical activity or intellect. This may be further reinforced by religious symbols found throughout the house, a cluster of hiking boots by the door or a stack of biographies next to the reading chair.


Aspirations in context: Everyone has things to which they aspire. Understanding the wishes for life or personal changes your target holds can allow your message to tap into that. Not all bad cooks want to be good cooks, and not all mowers of the lawn care about the perfect yard. In-homes can create the trust and depth of conversation to uncover those hidden strides your consumer wants to make and the barriers that get in their way. Information consumers share in focus groups tend to skew a bit to the idealized side of life: healthy food, retirement in reach, household repairs complete. But seeing the refrigerator full of leftover pizza, the 401k statement with a low balance and the furnace records showing the last cleaning was six years ago tell a different story. Consumers don’t mean to deceive, but they do tend to blur the lines between aspirations and everyday realities.


Product or service in context: In-homes are an ideal method of understanding product context pertaining to usage and life challenges. A consumer can walk marketers through a usage situation, while showing where product is stored, whether or not competition is there too, how easy or hard something is to reseal, in what way are leftovers kept, etc. Knowing basic demographics doesn’t get to this level of knowledge. In today’s world, some formerly solidly middle class consumers are doing everything they can to stay afloat. That might mean buying more store brands and eliminating ice cream from the dessert menu every night. The consumer becomes the storyteller, detailing what happened before dinner was served and describing the time pressures faced. Doing a walkthrough of the home will also bring to light possible storage issues, what takes precedence in the refrigerator and how organized the closets are.


Conducting in-homes will give your team the full context of life and illustrate the opportunities that lie within. Let’s chat about your opportunities. Contact Fountainhead today.