Besides being present and alert, I always want to have the attitude of being open and curious-keeping a fluid point of view, in defiance of Enemy of Innovation Two.
One of the goals of this kind of consumer exploration is to explore the context of the answers. You may think you know why people are saying what they're saying, but as soon as you start to explore beyond the obvious, you discover the underlying connections, the way people put things together for themselves.
When I interview someone, I make sure that each response leads to another question:
Why is that important to you?
Where are you coming from with that?
That's really interesting. Explain to me what you mean by that.
How does that fit into your life?
Have you encountered that before? How have you solved that in the past?
With each subsequent answer, you learn more and more about the layers of context in the particular situation. People are motivated by contextual things, by the push and pull of their immediate environment. Most interviewers don't pay attention to context; they just pay attention to, 'How do you spread your cream cheese on your bagel?' They never think about the woman they are interviewing beyond her cream cheese preferences. They don't progress to wondering, where is this woman coming from? Does anybody do anything nice for her in her life? Does she get even two minutes a day to do anything for herself? What secret luxuries does she allow herself?
When you fully understand the context, you'll think about cream cheese differently. You can shake yourself free of your preconceptions about your product and the people who are using it, and begin to open your mind to new ideas.
We'll talk in Chapter 5 about how effective marketing shifts the emphasis away from the company and the product (the cream cheese) and toward the customer (how the cream cheese fits into her life, along with everything else). You can't do that if you don't have this sort of context.