Contextual Research & Modeling

Why do people say one thing in market research and do something else in the real world? It’s probably the most underestimated problem in marketing:

  • Focus group reactions to advertising differ from in-market reactions.
  • What consumers say they want in a product differs from what they actually buy.
  • Stated reasons for purchase differ from derived reasons in quantitative research.

The problem is that your customers don’t know everything that influences their purchase decisions especially when asked about it in traditional market research. That’s why The Seidewitz Group created contextual research and modeling. Our contextual research techniques apply the latest theories of human memory and motivation to uncover implicit (or non-conscious) and emotional needs that traditional research methodologies miss. Our proprietary techniques include:

  • Context StorytellingTM and Context LadderingTM These techniques are adapted from the cognitive interview, a methodology used in eye witness testimony and shown in dozens of published, peer-reviewed studies to dramatically increase memory recall and accuracy. They are highly effective for discovering true customer experiences or gathering competitive intelligence.
  • Visual LadderingTM Using multiple research stimuli to activate multiple brain systems, this technique uncovers otherwise hidden implicit and emotional memories. It is highly effective for identifying the full set of explicit, implicit and emotional needs that drive customer decisions.
  • Ethnographic LadderingTM By combining classic laddering with ethnography (observing customers in a typical product usage setting), this technique provides a deep understanding of the connections between product usage and the fulfillment of emotional needs.

The output from these research tools provides the raw material for contextual modeling. Our proprietary modeling techniques transform complex research information into a simple, detailed NeedsMapTM for each target audience. These NeedsMaps serve as the foundation for your team’s customer understandingand for making marketing and product development decisions that deliver results. The Seidewitz Group has used contextual research and modeling in consumer, B2B, and pharmaceutical markets with large and small companies, including ConAgra, Blockbuster Video, Intuit, SYSCO, and Schering-Plough.


Gunter Kohnken, et al., “The Cognitive Interview: A Meta-analysis.” Psychology Crime & Law, vol. 5, January 1999: 3-27.