Lightspeed Blog

Whirlpool’s Recipe for Tapping into Emotional Insights

Posted by Edward Staples on Nov 10, 2014

Of the many great sessions at this fall’s TMRE, one that stands out (aside from Lightspeed GMI’s!) was led by Cynthia Soledad from Whirlpool.

A talented speaker, Cynthia described the upsides and the challenges of leveraging the iconic status and high affinity for the KitchenAid stand mixer to build a brand framework supporting their entire product portfolio. On one hand, the stand mixer is so beloved and iconic she’s encountered people who’ve tattooed an image of it on their bodies! On the other hand, Cynthia described a reaction she’s heard many times from people when she mentions their other appliances – “I didn’t know you made anything but the mixer!”

During the session, she described their quest to understand what consumers felt were the relative strengths of each of their products to facilitate 1) creativity, 2) identity reflection and 2) practical outcomes. In other words, 1) can the range help me finally make a good vindaloo? 2) when guests see my coffee maker will they recognize my good taste? 3) does the toaster make good toast?

To tap into these deeper, non-obvious, emotional insights, Whirlpool used unconventional research including observing their products in their brand-enthusiasts’ kitchens. Partnering with brandtrust they used a style of research called Emotional Inquiry. Consumers are asked to visualize and describe experiences in order to get to emotional responses and subconscious motivations instead of staying at the surface in their responses. We’ve seen the power emotion can play in our own work at Lightspeed GMI, wherein our client partners find their ideal respondents in our consumer panels and uncover that jackpot insight that you could only observe in the moment.

What really resonated with me during the narrative was their recognition of an “affirming moment” - that moment when you do prove to yourself how capable you are. To illustrate, Cynthia played a commercial in which a woman felt confident enough in her own abilities (facilitated through a KitchenAid product equipped kitchen) to accomplish culinary feats she once felt were beyond her capabilities (i.e., dazzling friends with Moroccan cuisine).

This reminded me of some wonderful moments my family shared this year. My 8 year-old son, 12 year-old daughter AND my wife learned how to ride a bicycle. There’s nothing that compares to the satisfaction you feel when you discover how capable you are – I got to see it on each of their faces. For my wife it was a cascade of things – though she never viewed herself as being athletic, she joined a fitness center and began waking at 5:00 AM to exercise 5 days a week. Empowered by her success in this arena, she decided to learn how to ride a bike. And when the school year began, my daughter - not known for being a morning person - successfully committed herself to getting up and getting ready for school without any prompting or help from her parents. I know this was inspired by seeing how capable her mom is.

What a wonderful insight for KitchenAid to tap into. As a part of Lightspeed GMI, a company which enables consumer research through access to a highly profiled panel of over 5.5 million consumers worldwide, I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with many companies on transformative research. What really makes it fun, interesting and satisfying is uncovering a genuine insight which not only helps your brand, but also helps you realize something interesting about people.

Topics: Emotional Insights

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