Research News Live

Using Video to Tell Research Stories

The Research Society asked researchers to share how they are using video, and over the next few weeks we will be sharing the responses in a series of posts to highlight use cases for video.

The Power of Video

Several years ago, one of my clients gave us a brief for an ethnographic piece of work in the quit smoking space. We ran a 3-month experimental trial to watch what happened when people tried to give up with a variety of methods including cold turkey. The challenge was to debunk the cold turkey myth. The use of video back then was embryonic, but the impact of the edited video journals was crucial in understanding the quitting journey with real people, warts, and all. We uncovered through video analysis and editing, clear examples of the cognitive and behavioural challenges as well as finding that there a pre-quit journey to contend with which was why cold turkey often failed. The video was so powerful that Sarah, one of the participants, was used in a future ad for nicotine patches.

The secret sauce for us back then was not to use research panels to recruit, but a casting agent to get everyday people who were not afraid of filming themselves or being on camera (in the days before smartphones and Instagram). Our casting agent also helped us with another brief – to understand snacking and its impact on different life stages and backgrounds. We ended up turning this into a documentary, with one of the participants as the host and we showed it in theatres in Sydney and Melbourne. We turned images into poster art and served popcorn and choc tops to the marketing and sales teams across all relevant categories in the business, as well as the creative agencies attached to those. It was a huge hit. Video was also used in facilitated workshops and ideation sessions to develop snacking concepts. With another client we gave rice to women of 12 different cultural backgrounds and filmed them cooking everything from breakfast to snacks, dinner, and desserts. Sunrice brought out a range of rices of the world – Basmati, Sushi, Thai etc, because of that work. A shopper video demonstrated how difficult 40 odd SKUs of pasta sauce were to shop, which lead to a massive rationalisation for a client who was more loss averse than consumer centric.

The key thing with consumer video was and still is, witnessing the joys and struggles of real people in their everyday lives to uncover insight. Video is not just about the insight story, it’s about client immersion, walking in someone else’s shoes and understanding context in the lives of others. Not all video needs to be documentary style, video snippets can bring segments to life, shopper moments and hype reels can provide richness and context and set up behavioural experiments and proof points for the non-believers or those who are hard to convince, at executive level. The challenge – in these days of agile and video analytics – is that we must not lose the gems of genuine storytelling. The nuggets that must be unearthed, considered, polished, or combined, not just ‘thematically presented’. Importantly the story is best told by those who are objective storytellers, without skin in the game, and that is the value of skilled researchers.

We need video to humanise the data and relate emotional resonance that will move clients to action; allow them to see opportunities or jobs to be done and draw their own conclusions as well. 

Ellen Baron
CEO Ruby Cha Cha


Telling human stories to engage senior leadership

“Video is extremely powerful in bringing the consumer and shopper to life. I notice just how much more traction and buy in I get from the business and especially retail customers when I can show actual footage focusing on the issue at hand. This always adds depth to the story and connects the individual to the consumer in our business.”

Alla Nock 
Head of Consumer Insights, Marketing Analytics & Capability|Kimberly-Clark Australia & NZ

“Using video is a really great way to bring our customers and insights to life.  We are increasingly looking towards including short videos in our presentations, particularly when communicating to senior leadership teams.  It is also great to have them as a take-away where the story is clearly communicated so that any stakeholders can access the videos and be left in no doubt about the key takeaways and how we got there.”

Virginia Meikle

Snr Manager Consumer Insights and Segmentation at the NRMA

Would you like to share your experience using video in research in future weeks? If so let us know at editor@researchsociety.com.au