Getting close to customers and putting customers at the center of decisions is always at the crux of research – how do we get to see people’s authentic nature? How can we learn from their every day?
And most importantly, how can their actions impact what brands do?

During the pandemic, we all had to do things a little differently and our online communities moved to the forefront of the insight world. Our typical approaches shifted from in person to online, seeking input from customers using forums, surveys, vox pops and all the other elements in our arsenal. Coming out the other side of the pandemic means that we get to combine the best of both worlds again, blending online approaches with those tried and tested in person conversations to get closer to customers.

With Screwfix, we got to do just this – starting online and shifting to an in-person approach. We simply wanted to get to know trade customers; what does their day look like and what are their highs and lows? All to better understand the average day of customers; keeping their real, lived experiences top of mind and heard across the business.

Our starting point? Our community of 21k Screwfix customers. These are genuine customers, provided directly by Screwfix and carefully managed by Verve. We know their thoughts, ideas and opinions are real and they come from a place of experience with the brand.

We recruited Trade customers from our community to take part in a simple vox-pop – just 2-3 minutes of their day to give us a snapshot video of a day in their life. Who are they? What do they do? Where are they? What’s on their agenda for the day? They are simple questions, but they opened a window into trade life, allowing us to understand their struggles and which bits of they job they enjoy – as well as giving us lots of food for thought that we might not have got to with a less open-ended research question.

Next, we wanted to understand more. How does their day develop? What crops up in their day and how do they overcome it? We used the video snapshots we’d collected as a springboard to recruit a handful of tradespeople to take part in a series of mini-depths; just three 15 minute chats in the morning, at lunch and at the end of their day. We used these chats not only to build up our understanding of these customers’ day, but also our rapport and relationship with them – for example, communicating via WhatsApp and finding times to talk that worked for them and their schedule. Everyone was matched with one researcher so we could accumulate understanding and build on conversations we had earlier in the day. That delivery that didn’t show up on time - how did they overcome that? An urgent request popped up - how do they fit it into their already busy schedule? We gathered rich insight into their mentality and priorities as the day goes on. It also helped us to understand that the day doesn’t just begin and end for a tradesperson; it often continues at home or elsewhere.

Screwfix really wanted to bring their customers to life, so we created a showreel of snippets from our vox-pops and mini-depths, highlighting the key themes and showcasing the breadth of customers Screwfix have. Our video is playing at Screwfix head office. In other words, it’s not limited to the insight team or key stakeholders; it’s pride of place for everyone to see, learn from and build into their roles for the business.

Here's where we shift into the real world – Screwfix invited two of these tradespeople to join them at an event where they were the star of the show. They were invited on stage for an hour Q&A about their jobs, their priorities and their relationships with the brand; again, putting their customers front and center. By keeping them top of mind, they serve as a reminder of who the brand serves and highlights potential opportunities outside of the everyday. In fact, Screwfix are now planning to invite two more tradespeople from our community to their head office for a learning event open to all, to highlight the needs and priorities of customers and bringing the outside (customers) in (to head office).

Insight communities, whilst inherently online, don’t need to stay online.

They also present us with opportunities (just like this) for in person conversations, acting as a jumping off point. Ultimately, communities give us the perfect place to start.

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you to put customers at the heart of all you do