Mapping the customer's mind

Date of publication: October 10, 2004



The authors attempt to understand and access the respondents inner thoughts and ideas during qualitative research by applying academic physiological and social anthropological theories and tools, relying on the work of Hampden-Turner who theorized that the human mind is complex and can best be understood by applying a series of 'Maps of the Mind'. After a brief survey of the concepts, the critical differences between traditional focus groups (based on respondent personal traits) and the alternative Mapping of the Mind approach (based on respondent personality traits) are indicated. Phases of a focus group project cycle are summarized, indicating how psychological and social anthropological models aid in making the alternative Maps of the Mind approach more conducive to gathering more valid, reliable, and ultimately, more useful information for the client and research team. An automotive ideation case study applies the approach to obtain detailed respondent comments concerning unmet 'needs' and 'wants' in regard to vehicles, driving habits, lifestyles, and life cycle. The goal is to introduce an alternative framework for qualitative research and offer the first steps in integrating academic theories into the mainstream of the market research discipline.

Michael Francesco Alioto


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