Zeitgeist is an innovation-oriented market research company founded in Brazil by Rodrigo dos Reis in 2010.
Our mission is to provide uniquely - delivered, methodology - agnostic insight by being as fluid and fast-changing as the culture we observe, while keeping data quality principles we strongly believe in intact. Orthodoxy in research should only be means to better data, not as an excuse for not evolving.
The insights industry in general is remarkably slow to adapt to change, and as the ones who should be paying attention and anticipating what people will want and how society will work in the future, that’s ironic to say the least. How can a company that’s structurally still stuck in the past help you relate with your future consumers?
“The fearful try to avoid collisions,
so they avoid movement."
These are the principles that support our vision:
Good research needs to be bespoke every time.
Ad hoc projects demand ad hoc teams.
The voice of the consumer is a huge source of insight, but cannot be the only one.
Results are not final if insights are not tangible.
We take responsibility for our role as mediators of public interest.
We call this vision Insight Craftsmanship.
Good research needs to be bespoke every time
How many times have you seen completely different qualitative briefings being addressed by the same approach, often with underwhelming results? The search for scalability has made a lot of victims and we don’t want to be part of a race to the bottom.
“Research has to be bespoke. It has to come from the interviews in a particular way. It has to speak to the problem in a particular way. It has to be custom made. No prefab archetypes. No Jungian dartboards.”
Ad hoc projects demand ad hoc teams
Many research companies usually have client or sector based teams. We believe the best way of creating value for our clients is just the opposite: building teams according to projects needs so we can always work with senior professionals and masters of their crafts. We make sure clients pay for talent, not for structure. We see ourselves more like a network of high level professionals than as a traditional company.
The voice of the consumer is a huge source of insight, but cannot be the only one
Qualitative interviews are mostly defined by perceptions and subjectivity and this is why they can almost always benefit from data from other sources, contrasting these results to the bigger picture. We believe all studies should triangulate data sources by design.
"This 'bigger picture' approach has been in the works for some time. A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, asks us to see consumers more broadly. Edward Snyder, the dean of the Yale School of Management, asks us to cultivate a breadth of vision, what he calls a “third competency.” Robert Dolan of the Harvard Business School asks us to transcend the usual preoccupations of the innovation process, and see the broader context."
Results are not final if insights are not tangible
Market research work is usually final when all insights have been presented, with little concern for how they’re going to be used. As a result, plenty of expensive studies lie forgotten on your corporate network folders or hidden in a cabinet. We believe true insight leads to prototyping - and through a network of all types of designers, economists and other specialists, we are able to deliver more than just good ideas.
How we work
This is a non-exhaustive list of our most important methodologies. This is not definitive but an everincreasing list. Some methodologies can be combined and adapted or we might devise something from scratch depending on each project needs.
Focus groups and panel-based surveys
Empathic interviews are redesigned in-depths that maximize insight output by going beyond verbal language and eliminating inherent biases as much as possible. We do that by:
Recording video - a more fluid and accessible portrait of those we’re talking to, capturing rich subtleties and increasing the lifetime and reach of our deliverables.
Making sure they always take place in somewhere natural to interviewees (home in most cases).
Documenting the environment and softer lifestyle cues.
Recruiting them through our own networks whenever possible, in order to be as diverse as possible in terms of particularities. Life stories (attitudes and lifestyles) usually matter more than hard quotas (income, demographics) when it comes to insight generation.
We prefer interviewing extreme users, specially if business issues are about innovation, new product development or centered on experience (hint: most are).
An extreme user is not (necessarily) a hipster or whatever the word du jour for a cool and pretentious early adopter is. An extreme user is someone with a particular and extreme relationship with whatever it is we’re studying - could be an ultra-marathonist, someone incredibly tidy with finances, a coffee nerd and so on. Their particular needs and deep repertoires help us identify emerging behaviours and untapped markets, usually yielding a lot more insight than typical consumers, so we are able to achieve more from less interviews.
"There are many ways to explore current behaviours and to understand how this insight can be used as a foundation to extrapolate the future. One method is to find emergent behaviours, essentially things that people have only recently started doing and that might, if the conditions are right, become widespread. Emergent behaviours can be triggered by cultural memes(…)”
With influence networks getting ever more complex, it makes a lot of sense to investigate cultural references and benchmarks with similiar audiences elsewhere in the world for innovation, rather than looking inside our own backyard.
Our presence through our Trend Scouts in the world’s major cities gives us a global perspective through a very lean operation. Our trend scouts are people from humanities, marketing or design backgrounds with a keen eye for newness and cultural nuance, as well as plenty of empathy. They work for us on investigating the global Zeitgeist for your particular business issues.
“Even with the majority of the city’s inhabitants living in poverty, São Paulo’s massive population – just under 20 million – creates a substantial upper middle class whose youth can afford expensive import records and which supports the existence of specialist stores catering to really narrow Europhile or anglophile music tastes. Really, location doesn’t matter any more: members of the Hipster International have more in common with each other than with their physical-world neighbours.”
One of the most underrated research methodologies, observations lead us to insight that simply cannot be found elsewhere. We identify the most representative spaces then monitor the relevant variables with a script, bringing high quality records and context-sensitive discoveries to your business issues.
“Designers often talk of staying in step with the zeitgeist, a German term that translates literally as “time spirit” but is in itself far from a literal substance. The zeitgeist is much bigger than contemporary trends and styles: it’s a mood, an essence, and through cultural absorption a good designer can gain an intuition about whether designs are congruous or incongruous with the zeitgeist. The same can be said about what I like to call the platzgeist, a gestalt sense of the spirit of an environment, whether a neighbourhood, city, region, or country.”
Social media, a plethora of sector and audience specific news, technological advances, books, documentaries and previous studies done by your company are all valuable as sources for an essential, cost-effective triangulation methodology that really makes a difference while putting issues in perspective. Desk researches should be the starting point of every study.
Innovation and market research work can often fall prey to unseen barriers inside the corporation when it comes to implementation. Workshops help us identify those barriers and involve both strategists and execution teams in tangibilizing solutions based on fieldwork findings, as well as prioritising opportunities according to cost, time or other relevant variables.
One of our most hands-on methodologies, Trend Tours have great appeal for clients who want to see things with their own eyes.
We curate the most influential spaces for a certain business issue, trend or subculture and take our clients for a ride - this involves people watching, aesthetics, retail design, business strategy and lots of great photography. There’s no better way of empathise than through experience.
We’ve already organised custom tours for the sports, automotive, interiors and other industries, through both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Focus groups and panel-based surveys
Focus groups (online and offline) and online surveys are still the meat and potatoes of market research. At Zeitgeist, we work with these more traditional methodologies and projects as well. Our way of adding our own flavor to these classics is combining them with other perspectives and going beyond diagnosis when necessary.
To improve passenger experience for Latin America’s largest airline, we’ve investigated some of the world’s top airports through our trend scouts, observed experiences in 8 of the most important Brazilian airports, interviewed 96 people in 7 different cities for a whopping 180+ hours of raw video material, did a series of focus groups with front line personnel and organised a workshop for key stakeholders in order to refine and prioritise improvements.
In order to improve the web experience of a client, we’ve interviewed extreme users and ran cocreation exercises in 6 countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and the US). Our main deliverable was a 40-minute “quick wins” video of low cost, high impact changes to their ecommerce platform.
REDE METODISTA DE ENSINO
MEET MYSTERY SHOPPER:
To understand local competition dynamics for a major player in education in Brazil, we’ve built a hybrid methodology combining in-context observations with mystery shopper, capable of evaluating and comparing schools from both a service and infrastructure perspectives. We’ve visited over 12 schools in each of the cities the study took place and did focus groups with parents of students to probe for brand image issues. These data was complemented by local demographic information and geomarketing data from a desk research.
In order to investigate new potential streams of revenue for a client, we’ve interviewed extreme users and observed retail spaces of a broader category tangent to their core business. We also prepared two trend presentations based and after qualitative field was done, we worked together with an economist to quantify size and growth of the highest potential areas of opportunity found in the first stage.