Some researchers are using video to show clients how consumers really behave.
Taped interviews, consumers filming themselves as well as cameras in stores are just a few ways researchers are using video.
Jeremy Warshaw, president and founder of the New York-based Observatory, said he uses video "to bring research alive" for his clients.
One client, Angotti, Thomas, Hedge, needed help convincing French liquor marketer Pernod Ricard to use more drastic techniques to sell its new cinnamon schnapps to U.S. Generation X consumers.
At Angotti's request, the Observatory interviewed young alcohol consumers in bars and filmed a typical Saturday night of barroom fun. The results from Mr. Warshaw and his team astonished Pernod Ricard. The video showed the bar as an aggressive fraternity party with people doing waterfall shots and beer bongs.
"Pernod Ricard was convinced [by the videotape] of this age group's drinking mentality," Mr. Warshaw said.
The videotape even gave the company insight into competition. For example, Jagermeister was the liquor most talked about in the bars visited. Those interviewed said the secret to having a successful liquor, like Jagermeister, is to make it taste bad enough to challenge the drinker.
The Observatory also had a role in producing commercials for AT&T's 1-800-OPERATOR collect calling service. For those spots, Mr. Warshaw interviewed college students about why they call home.
He's convinced his method helps enhance interviewing and quantitative research.
"Eighty percent of the impression people make in conversation occurs from body language, compared to the tone of voice, which constitutes only 13%, and the actual words, merely 8%," Mr. Warshaw said.
Chilton Research Services, Radnor, Pa., uses a different approach to videotape consumers. Called "Right There Research," the company puts a video camera in consumers' hands.
Richard Luker, the Chilton account exec who came up with the methodology, believes the camera goes "into the context where products live and where consumers can live intervention-free, taping on their own."
He believes video data cannot simply stand on their own but are useful to "generate questions for surveys and validate what clients believe to be true."
Last year, Chilton did a study for Bugle Boy Industries, Simi Valley, Calif., which gave the company insight into language used by teens, their behavior at school and the type of clothing worn for specific occasions.
Mr. Luker added the video helps in "providing idea generation, direction in product development and even creating advertising campaigns."
Envirosell is a New York research company that captures consumer in-store shopping habits. Using cameras that look like those used for security, the company analyzes how much time a person spends with an item or how they read the label.
Through this type of observation along with in-store surveys, Envirosell is able to determine the effectiveness of packaging and displays and what affects sales and merchandising.
Tom Moseman, Envirosell VP, believes the videotape plus data from surveys provide valuable information.
"To show a client what people are really doing" helps back up numbers and survey results, he said.