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How to Bring Your Blind Spots into Focus Through Online Anthropology

Posted On  November 13, 2020

Nearly every business has a story about a blind spot. We’re talking about something that seems so obvious once it is revealed but, it never previously occurred to anyone at the company. They look around at a room of experts and ask, “how did we possibly miss that?”

The big mattress companies missed the emergence of Casper. Traditional razor companies missed the emergence of subscription razor services. Financial firms missed the emergence of investment companies like Robinhood and Acorn.

The reason businesses miss these blind spots is not for a lack of intelligence, motivation, or effort. Rather, blind spots exist because they don’t know the questions to ask to find them. How are you supposed to find an emerging competitor if we have never heard of them? How do you spot the trend that will overwhelm our business model if we can’t even imagine it?

Blind spots are a fact of business life – but finding them early positions you as a disrupter

It’s easy to forget how much traditional research relies on known information. Qualitative and quantitative insights require at least some ingoing hypotheses to pick the people to talk to and the questions to ask. Even pure ethnographic work requires ingoing hypotheses about where to go and what to observe.

This reliance on known information is what makes it so hard for traditional research to reveal blind spots. Sometimes you get lucky and observe something unexpected. Sometimes you have a really smart strategist who comes up with new questions.

But given the high stakes of blind spots, you need an approach that delivers more consistent results. You need a method that isn’t built on ingoing hypotheses. A method that listens rather than asks. Armed with such a tool, you can consistently identify and seize opportunities before your competitors.

Online Anthropology is your blind spot solution

The best way to reveal your brand’s blind spots is to shut your mouth and open your eyes and ears – or at least take them where they’ve never been before. At LRW, a Material Company, our team of cultural anthropologists listen to millions of naturally-occurring, detailed, and authentic conversations. Our approach is unlike any traditional research methods, allowing us to find the questions you really need to be asking. We call it Online Anthropology:

It is this combination of capabilities that makes Online Anthropology unique. Traditional research is critical to measuring brand attributes, but it’s limited in its ability to find the unknown. Social media dashboards are great for tracking brand sentiment, but when was the last time you saw an authentic, detailed, and rational conversation on Facebook or Twitter?

Online Anthropology can provide a broad perspective—like searching for emerging behaviors in your category—or a narrow perspective, like exploring pain points with your new product. It can be used to augment your existing knowledge—like digging into an unexpected shift in brand tracking data—or to explore a completely new space, like a new product category.

Online Anthropology provides these benefits with great flexibility and speed. As we listen to existing conversations, early results can be shared within a few weeks, allowing clients to guide the exploration. Final results are typically delivered within a month.

Fast and reliable insights that reveal your brand’s blind spots like never before? Now that’s an eye-opening proposition!


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