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Unlock the power of online co-creation

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As a brand consultancy, we are always using interactive workshop and focus group methodologies with clients or consumers (and sometimes both!), to gain a deeper understanding of needs.

They enable us to use projective techniques, to get under the skin, to reach the subconscious and to shape and co-create new ideas in both brand and innovation. Lockdown has presented us with new and interesting challenges as we have been forced to adapt different ways of running focus groups and workshops, whilst still building the same levels of empathy, understanding and rapport.

1) It’s easier than you think to build rapport online

Surprisingly, in some ways, it’s been easier to build rapport online – maybe because people have been locked away from others and are keen to engage. Perhaps also because we make sure we conduct a tech-test to check sound and vision beforehand, which helps to build an initial relationship with each participant. You’re also looking them straight in the face, one-on-one, when you first meet.

Of course, you don’t see all the body language, so you have to make sure you’re keeping a keen eye on everyone. To help with that, we’ve made sure that we only have 4- 6 of us at any one time working in groups and teams. We’ve found that people have been more engaged in the stimulus and the interactive tasks – both in client and consumer workshops/groups – perhaps again because it’s easier to see, to move around and because we can interactively shape the content in real time.

I couldn’t believe how engaged everybody was in the 1HQ workshop and how well they interacted with the stimulus.

Sara Metcalfe,

Senior Brand and Product Group Manager, Tate and Lyle

2) There are greater opportunities to gather diverse opinions

We’ve been able to work more remotely with a wider range of participants from all over the UK and the world. This has meant for both client and consumer workshops/groups, that we’ve had a more diverse profile of attendees (who turn up on time more often, perhaps because there are no parking or traffic issues). And of course, our carbon footprint has been so much smaller on each project.

It’s also meant that we can build and shape stimulus live online in a way we haven’t been able to before, between and during workshops. I think when we’re face to face again, we will definitely incorporate some of these methodologies and approaches more often, keeping our carbon footprint down and only conducting face-to-face meetings when relevant. 

3) Using online sub-teams can help encourage further consumer insights

People are much more used to online tools now and are confident using them in a way they weren’t ten years ago – when online groups became much more common. Although you can’t have 12-16 clients/consumers in a workshop all at once, we’ve found its great if you create little sub-teams, go off in smaller groups and then reconvene and share. In many ways this has also been better, as the teams build a great rapport by working together.

I loved the Apprentice task where 1HQ asked participants to work as a team to create their own mood boards to articulate how they felt our brand could better connect with customers. These rich and valuable insights, straight from the minds of our target audience and extracted by 1HQ will play a critical role in the next stage of our brand’s development and ensure that we hit our brief.

Katie Sheppard

Brand and Marketing Manager, Optibac

4) New online tools are able to keep focus and inclusion high during workshops

As well as using familiar platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and PPT, we have also used new tools like Miro – which enables everyone to shape, annotate, share, vote and move stimulus around, all at the same time.

This helps to keep engagement, focus and inclusion high throughout the whole workshop process and we continue to use a high level of visual stimulus from our studio throughout.

As a strategist and qual researcher, it has been brilliant to use amazing stimulus produced by the wider 1HQ studio team – such as semiotic projective imagery as well as exploratory interactive mood boards – to help me get to the subconscious brain.


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