Let's go on an online safari

Each year around Christmas, Diageo plans a big campaign to promote their Whisky brand Johnnie Walker. For the campaign of 2008-2009 they decided to extend the television campaign with an online activation campaign. In order to better manage the content and set-up of the campaign, they wanted to get a better insight in how their target group was. What are their interests, ambitions and opinions? How can we best target them?

The blind spot

How well do we really know our customers? Our insights are always obtained by deliberately interviewing participants. This brings us to questions like how good do participants know themselves and how well do they want us to know them?

  • People are not always aware of their own habits or behavior
  • Research participants forget to mention certain relevant aspects
  • Humans are also social species and hence influence one another


Online observational research

In order to overcome these shortcomings, researchers have engaged in observational research. For long observational research has been done offline. With the rise of social media however, more and more people live part of their life online. The success of these social networks brings a new opportunity for market researchers. They can now engage in participative observation by becoming friends with research participants on social networks.

The case: becoming friends with Johnnie Walker consumers

In cooperation with Diageo, the InSites ForwaR&D Lab became friends with Johnnie Walker consumers on social networks. The goal was to get a more in-depth understanding of the online life of this target group by observing what they were saying and doing on social media.
Based on an online screener questionnaire, we determined if a certain male belonged to the target groups. Those participants who qualified the criteria were asked to become a friend of us on their social networks. For a week, we followed our new friends online. With the aid of web scraping software, we extracted information from each research participants e.g. profile information, group membership, tags for pictures, conversations with other social network members and so on. The analysis was done with the aid of text analytics.
The input of the online safari was used by Diageo in order to adapt their initial idea for their online campaign. It also served as inspiration to built the website. Despite the fact that they knew already a lot based on qualitative research, the study also changed their beliefs about their target group.
Want to find out more about this study? Contact Annelies Verhaeghe, our Head of Research Innovation ([email protected])

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