How to Understand How Consumers Really Think and Feel

How to Understand How Consumers Really Think and Feel


To grow the Feminine Care category in markets with high protection needs is a big opportunity. The issue, however, is that discussing sensitive topics of this nature with consumers is considered taboo and is strongly discouraged in many countries around the globe, even in some developed countries. Key barriers are cultural, religious, or both, and raise a key challenge towards understanding what products are likely to best meet the needs of target consumers.

How we did it

To drive a meaningful innovation in sensitive and personal categories such as feminine care it was imperative to break the barriers to understanding the deeper meaning of consumers behavior, and the contradictions associated with it. Going through rounds and rounds of research with different consumers was not expected to reveal the truth and tension in consumers experience. It was necessary to build trust among a small group, and accompany them throughout their experience over an extended period of time for them to:

  • Entrust us with their issues and frustrations, sharing their emotions and feelings in remarkable details.
  • Participate in the co-creation process, critiquing and iterating the prototypes we provided by trying even the most crude ones.

This trusted relationship was critical to determine what makes the insight real and alive, and the underlying motivation to the consumer need.


The learning was quick, leading to a rapid translation of consumer feedback into actionable next steps, including physical product and package prototypes to experiment with. The impact touched almost all aspects of the business, leading to an impressive innovation program with a 3-year innovation roadmap. The critical insight we identified led to winning initiatives on both the technical and commercial fronts. It allowed the business to gain market leadership in a relatively short time by reaching the heart and mind of the consumer, displacing a very well entrenched competitor.


The Fusion Methodology™ is powerful in driving deeper insights in sensitive, personal categories but also across cultures, among kids, in the Health & Nutrition domain, as well as in low engagement and low differentiation categories.

The approach for identifying critical insight through an extended interface with a small group of highly engaged target consumers is Valen’s Fusion Methodology™. It is designed to bridge the gaps inherently associated with the broadly used traditional qualitative research:

  • It drives an open and honest exchange, and a deeper and richer insight, by engaging fewer consumers in a relationship built on trust.
  • It leverages many on-line and off-line tools, including face-to-face interviews, discussion boards, multiple and frequent touchpoints, daily observations, and usage diaries for a deep rather than broad exploration of how to delight the consumer.
  • When used in combination with new Entrepreneurial Methods, the learning is iterative and results in a continuous co-creation process.