Perceptions & Attitudes

Framed as a video selfie talking head, Perceptions & Attitudes captures people’s facial expressions with a proximity closer than any other methodology can provide (literally, and arm’s length away).

The beauty of Perceptions & Attitudes is there is no moderator bias, and no possibility for group-think that can be common problem in focus groups.

Micro facial expressions, including eyebrow raises, mouth movements, involuntary twitches, voice intonation and more help establish their response authenticity and candor.

Given their comfort level with speaking into their own mobile devices or webcams, the following is a list of strategies for getting the best out of Perceptions & Attitudes:

    • Get personal: they are in their comfort zone, usually alone, and amazingly open to questions that probe deeply into their personal experience and/or feelings. We have asked people about chronic illness (delicately, of course), intimate wear (in relation to their body image), impotence (you’d be surprised how comfortable men are on the topic) and more; and are constantly inspired by how open people are via mobile video
    • Be provocative: ask them about their deepest fears, their greatest achievements, their trigger points for anger, injustice…even politics! Provoking – without insulting them, of course – helps elicit more emotionally-charged replies
    • Benchmark: ask them to compare and contrast things like brand associations, competing product perceptions, standards of customer service against the industry norms; or even the ideal
    • Be emotional: while some respondents are better than others at answering questions about emotion, don’t shy away from literally asking them about emotions surrounding a topic. We’ve even had brand loyalists write a love letter to a brand and read the letters on camera
    • Allow them to dream: one of our favorite questions is to have them suspend disbelief, and describe the ideal . By understanding the dream, you will be better able to gauge if/how you or your brand/product/service lives up to their ideal

Show & Tell

Show + Tell is a way to see into people home environments: pantry, closet, den, fridge, entertainment system, home office….you name it.

In our experience, having people show objects – or processes – and talk about them tends to not only authenticate them as users, but also makes them much more animated and articulate because they are touching objects, or pointing out parts of a journey.

We define Show + Tell as something that happens within or around the home (versus Retail + Events which can take place outside the home).

Show + Tell has been used for a wide range of projects including clothing (show us your favorite sports bras, and explain how brands and product features vary), cars (walk around your car and tell us about brand/features/ design), food (fridge dive to understand brand assortment; prepare meals to understand process), entertainment (TV and audio ecosystem), furniture (favorite room, biggest villain in the house), laundry journey, shaving experience, and kitchen (storage container lids).

To get the best out of Show + Tell:

    •  Be specific: ask them to show you their favorite X, or top 5 articles of Y (e.g. show us your 5 favorite handbags)
    • Walk-throughs: ask them to walk you through a process – laundry, for example, to understand the Before, During and After insights (sometimes breaking it out into multiple questions)
    •  Pan-arounds: or closet dives, or home entertainment ecosystems, have them pan over a variety of objects and explain what they are, why they have them and note brands (e.g. we had a big tech co whose designer wasn’t born in the US and wanted to understand what a college dorm room looked like)
    • Expect variable video: if you request consumers to show their laundry journey, for example, the video itself might be a little shaky as they pan around and explain things, or walk from room to room. We can mitigate AV issues with instructions, but lighting, sound and video quality may vary if they are asked to move from room to room while filming, from light to dark, or spinning the smartphone around to show something
    •  Involve a partner: for a study for baby wash basins, respondents had their partner hold their phone and record moments where both of their hands were occupied

Prompt & React

Getting consumers to respond to prompts can be accomplished on mindswarms digitally, or physically. Digitally, by attaching a link to a study, respondents can view PDFs, images, web sites, video, UX, UI…basically anything you want them to provide unvarnished reactions to. To date, we have prompted consumers with links to early stage concepts (designer sketches, advertising territories, brand positioning), work-in-progress (ads in development, taglines, potential product names) and finished assets (existing TV commercials, websites, digital products, print ads).

    • Similarly, we have sent product to people’s homes for a number of objectives:
    • Understand the out of box experience
    • Gather feedback on packaging
    • Get reactions to messaging and positioning
    • Conduct a home use test (prepare food; try out makeup, try on new prototype shoes) In terms of best practices for working with Prompt & React, the following is a loose set of guidelines:

In terms of best practices for working with Prompt & React, the following is a loose set of guidelines:

    • Keep it short: if a PDF that is attached contains too many pages, images or words, people will tune out
    •  Think about it as stimulus: sometimes, their literal reactions to the artifact aren’t as important as the reactions they elicit – what you’re really looking for is how the stimulus prompted them to reveal something interesting or new…so it doesn’t always have to be stimulus you are literally testing that elicits a great insight (for example, get them to respond to an article about their generation and explain how they feel)
    • Plan for shipping: if it’s an actual product you want sent to consumers, shipping will be your responsibility (not mindswarms’)
    •  Need 1 or two more

Missions & Events

A lot of retail experiences require no assistance on the shop floor (e.g. headphones, QSR). So hearing from consumers in a retail environment as they first enter the store, look for sections, search for products, compare competing options, evaluate packaging, look at signage, navigate the aisles, and ultimately choose a specific brand or product can be very insightful. Especially as more and more shopping and buying shifts online.

Retail & Events has been used to have consumers shop for e-readers at Big Box consumer electronics stores, do a walk-through of a car buying journey, sample food at QSR, do competitor store checks, shop a new category in a store, evaluate drive-thru menu boards, provide feedback on the inclusiveness of in-store marketing messaging and more

In terms of pro tips for Retail & Events:

    • It’s its own study: while we can – and do – include Perceptions + Attitudes, Show + Tell, and Prompt + React in one study, getting folks to go to retail requires a dedicated study devoted to the retail visit
    • Incentives need to be higher: we typically pay $50 for consumers to answer 10 questions, but if they need to travel to a retail store and/or buy something, we often sweeten the kitty to compensate them for their time, effort and travel
    •  Incentives need to be higher: we typically pay $50 for consumers to answer 10 questions, but if they need to travel to a retail store and/or buy something, we often sweeten the kitty to compensate them for their time, effort and travel
    • Studies can take longer than normal: we promise <7 days for US studies and <14 days for international, but if the study requires people to do a retail visit, we like to give them a little more time to complete, especially if weekends are the only time they might be able to fit in a destination trip to – say – a mall
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By Tom Bassett

4 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your mindswarms Video


4 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your mindswarms Video

What’s the best way to go through video responses and glean insights? Tom Bassett, founder of mindswarms, discusses best practices for extracting relevant data and weaving powerful stories to share within your organization.

Mobile video surveys provide powerful first-person accounts that speak customer truths. But how do you get the most from your data? Using his more than 20 years of experience working with companies like Microsoft (link to Microsoft interview), Virgin America (link to Virgin interview), and Nike, Tom Bassett shares 4 tips to help you effectively analyze your data and draw conclusions.

01. Reviewing Results

When analyzing your mobile video surveys, there are a couple of things to look for up. First, you’ll want to identify patterns and themes. What are people identifying with? What are the recurring problems or issues with the product, service, or experience? Come up with a list, aiming for no more than 5-10 patterns. Once you’ve identified these, it’s important to run them through your brand filter. Ask yourself: How are the insights related to my brand? Which are the most relevant for you (versus insights that are not related to my brand)?

During this stage, it’s also important to look for original insights – outliers. For example, what’s something you didn’t expect the respondents to say? What’s something unique you noticed, when seen through the eyes of the consumer? Since it’s very hard for brands to differentiate these days, the off-speed pitch is often where you find the interesting angles.

02. Organizing Results

Next, you’ll want to bracket your insights into two main buckets: problems and opportunities. This is a relevant way to share insights back internally at your organization. Senior leadership teams often want to help solve problems – but they also want to understand where the potential zones of opportunity are to help grow. Are the respondents articulating a problem or need that hasn’t been met? Have they mentioned a totally new idea? An expansion of idea?

03. Identifying Story

This is an important step because although it’s great to lots of insight, it’s essential to find a focal point. Ask yourself: What is the overarching story? How do you articulate this? Try to hone in and articulate one story. Philosophically, we like to see things through the eyes of consumes. For example, for a Nike project related to the SPARQ brand (which they ultimately acquired), the story was simple: “Kids would give their eye teeth for a 10th of a second at the combines.” Or for Yahoo Personals: “Women don’t want to let go of the idea that Fate played a role in finding the partner of their dreams.”. Once you determine THE story, you’ll want to come up with chapters, or building blocks that help build that story. Ask yourself: What are we trying to teach or tell people? What’s the big reveal? In simple terms, there is a beginning, middle and end. The middle is usually the reveal (the point of tension, the climax) while the beginning introduces it, and the end wraps it up.

04. Sharing Results

When you give your presentation to colleagues, use the video to really engage them! Video lifts heads, because there is sight and sound and motion. So, make sure to show video clips of respondents in order to get their attention. It’s worth it to put together a 2-3 minute series of clips in order to share the data in the most powerful way possible. But don’t use video to be a surrogate for PowerPoint; use video to tell a compelling story. Otherwise, if video just lists points as opposed to adding up to something singular, viewers will be confused. (One additional tidbit: we also like to sprinkle in single mindswarms clips throughout a debrief deck, to help keep things lively. These clips can be links to the study matrix, or videos can be downloaded and placed into the presentation).

How to Write Effective Mobile Video Survey Questions


How to Write Effective Mobile Video Survey Questions

The art of asking questions

In study after study, great research, creativity and innovation revolves around asking the right questions. Since the mindswarms methodology is unique, below is a set of best practices for ask question on the platform in order to reach the “unlock.”

Start broad, then get specific

We are big proponents of trying to understand consumers in the broadest possible context, including culturally. So beginning studies with a sense for how they think the culture of is changing is a great way to anchor their later insights within a cultural context; so much consumer behavior is shaped by much greater forces than product features.

Ask specifically vague questions

It’s tempting to go straight at an issue or a problem. But often times, it’s best to understand where THEY will take the story. So, for example, if you ask whether they like cars – or not – you will understand whether they like cars. But if you ask them to explain their relationship with cars, you’re never sure where they will take the story. And understanding the broader context of their automotive relationship may be much more insightful than a specific like/dislike question.

Ask very pointed questions

Seemingly contrary to asking specifically vague questions is to flip the script and be VERY direct and pointed. Sometimes even revealing the real question at hand can help consumers provide highly pointed responses.

Be provocative

Ask about shifts in behavior

Video is the most emotional medium, so embracing what it captures best by provoking (without, of course, insulting them) can be an effective tactic. Prompting them with statements, or published articles will allow them to react. For example, linking to Millennials to an article about their perceived attitudes and behaviors and asking respondents to weigh in on whether they agree or disagree can provide deeper levels of understanding.

Use polarizing questions

espondents are opinionated. Take advantage of their strong opinions by asking them what they love or what they hate, especially if an emotional response is what you’re looking for. For those who are less opinionated, forcing them to choose left/right or high/low – basically making them choose – helps clarify which side of the divide they are on.

Ask why

The thought processes behind the decisions that people make are perhaps even more important than the decision themselves. Have the respondents explain their perspective and why they do things. Asking “why” seems perhaps too elemental sometimes, but by asking the obvious why question, it can help unearth new ways of understanding consumers (e.g. why do you run? Why do you shop?

Get respondents into relevant space

The big advantage of using mobile video (and webcams) is that you can be in the respondent’s space. Have them bring you to the environment that makes the most sense for your mobile video survey. We have had respondents record from their kitchen, bathroom (for a shaving study), garage, pantry, bedroom (for a closet dive), den (for home entertainment studies).

Don’t cram 5 questions into 1

Imagine we toss you a tennis ball. Easy enough to catch, right? But what if we toss you three? Not so easy. Stick to one question (or tennis ball). At mindswarms, respondents have one minute to respond, and you have 200 characters to write your question. You don’t want respondents to spend the entire minute just listing off things or juggling their focus. A good stress test is to make sure you are only using one question mark – at most, two.

Tug at respondents’ emotions

The best insight comes when people talk about things that they really care about, whether it is something that they love or a secret pet peeve of theirs. Ask questions that aim at eliciting these emotions. To that end, for a pet food study, we had consumers introduce us to their pet in the first video; people projected voices, personalities and deep emotion in the first response. Similarly, for a study about Millennial women and cleaning, we had them hold up a photo of their mothers in the first reply, and it choked some of them up!

Use their language, not theirs

Use language that the respondents are comfortable with, and would use if they were talking to a friend. For instance, a respondent might not know what an “asset” is.

Allow for open-ended questions

We’ve found that respondents usually have some additional thoughts at the end of the survey that haven’t been addressed by any questions. Giving them the freedom to share these thoughts with you can lead to even more novel insights.

Refine on the fly

Time permitting, what we like to do is have the first few participants respond to see how they interpret the questions. Questions can be amended as the study progresses, so sometimes even slight alterations to questions can be help drill down to a deeper level.

Prepare for follow ups

Follow up questions can be asked on mindswarms in a number of ways: (1) obviously, more mindswarms question (2) tel or webcon interviews (3) in person ethnography, IDIs or focus groups.

Make sure your respondents explain why.

The thought processes behind the decisions that people make are perhaps even more important than the decision themselves. Have the respondents explain their perspective and why they do things.

Be creative

Put your respondents in hypothetical situations, use similes and metaphors, or ask a question that is completely “out there.” The more creative your question is, the more creative (and interesting) your responses will be.

5 ways to ask follow-ups on mindswarms

5 ways to ask follow-ups on mindswarms

The primary ways to follow up after a mindswarms study include:

    • Scheduling telephone interviews
    • Organizing Skype/Facetime/Hangouts interviews
    • Conducting in home ethnographies
    • Inviting participants to a focus group
    • Lastly, serving up more mindswarms questions

How Online Interactions Impact Time-to-Make-a- Plan Moments

How Online Interactions Impact Time-to-Make-a- Plan Moments

Online interactions are increasingly shaping how people make a plan for their next trip. New clickstream data from Luth Research’s opt-in panel and mindswarms video surveys provide a snapshot of what a real traveller’s time-to- make-a-plan moments actually looked like. Check out the Think with Google study here.

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By Tom Bassett

Mobile’s Role in a Shopper’s Purchase

Mobile’s Role in a Shopper’s Purchase

Online interactions are playing an increasing role in influencing a shopper’s ultimate purchase decision. But how much so? New data from Luth Research opt-in panel and mindswarms mobile video surveys show just what this means. Hint: You need to be fast, and relevant. Find out more in this Think with Google study here.

Ad Testing: 72andSunny and the “truth” campaign

Ad Testing: 72andSunny and the “truth” campaign

Following up to their successful truth campaign, American Legacy Foundation and 2014 Ad Age Agency of the Year, 72&Sunny, needed to test their creative to see what resonated with today’s teens. mindswarms put the new ad concepts in front of the teens, and had them record their responses via smartphones. The results? Positive vibes win out over negativity.

72andSunny, a Los Angeles-based ad agency working with the anti-smoking campaign, truth, used mindswarms to get reactions on three new concepts for teen-targeted anti-smoking ads. truth’s ads of the early 2000s drove a generation of potential smokers to rebel against Big Tobacco. A new generation of teens, however, required a new approach. 72andSunny wanted to field a test of their new campaign before launch.

Mobile Video Surveys

mindswarms mobile video surveys give ad-campaign testers access to high-quality video responses across a wide geographical area without the hassle of traveling. More importantly, they allow direct and intimate entry into the varied world of individual opinion, free from the group-think that’s characteristic of some traditional research methods. Participants respond from the comfort of their own home, while researchers can view responses in between office meetings. With these benefits in mind, 72andSunny partnered with mindswarms to create a survey that would net them the insight they needed to confidently go forward with a bold, new campaign.


In their survey, mindswarms and 72andSunny collected video responses from 42 participants across a carefully curated demographic range in three metropolitan cities – Detroit, Birmingham, and Pittsburgh. Respondents were exposed to the ads and asked to discuss the efficacy and resonance of their messages, and react to the ad campaign as a whole. From the comfort of their homes, respondents provided 60-second answers to 14 thoughtful, pointed questions, generating over 550 minutes of consumer video – video showcasing a degree of personal, private reactions unachievable in focus groups. All possible in a week’s time.


Question responses were reviewable by 72andSunny and mindswarms’ project managers as they filled, meaning that each individual video was accessible after a respondent submitted their responses. Responses filled a shareable matrix for easy viewing, allowing agency planners and clients to watch each respondent’s answers to every question (by row), or to watch each question’s varied answers across respondents (by column). Beyond the stated answers, the nuances in these video responses – of body language and tone of voice — speak volumes, and allow an in-depth analysis beyond that of old-fashioned ad testing.
Nearly tfive hours of unfiltered consumer honesty, and all the richness of its subtlety, were delivered to 72andSunny via a cloud-based study link (each video response including a transcript), giving them the answers they were looking for.
72andSunny’s ads revolved around the concept, „Be the Generation to End Smoking,” and utilized the emphatic tagline, “Finish It.” Included in the campaign was the promotion of shareable content on social media and ads showing how Big Tobacco shamelessly uses celebrity smokers as unpaid advertisers for their product.

Dr. Lautman – Professor at Wharton’s MBA program – on Mobile Video Surveys

Dr. Lautman - Professor at Wharton’s MBA program - on Mobile Video Surveys

Wharton MBA adjunct professor Dr. Martin Lautman appreciates the benefits of big data. But when it comes to diving deeper in order to understand consumer emotion and how people really feel about something, he sees mindswarms mobile video surveys offering the most credibility. You can watch our interview with him. here.

When Dr. Lautman, MBA adjuntc professor at Wharton, asks his students to come up with business concepts, he knows an important part of the process is customer feedback. But before discovering video ethnography, this was a challenge. How would his students gain access to real-world customers within an academic setting, and how would they get responses in time?

mindswarms mobile video ethnography has changed all of this. Dr. Lautman reached out to mindswarms, and asked them to help his students develop mobile video surveys. This alone was educational, with students learning the importance of asking the right questions in the right way, and also best practices for gleaning insights from the videos. Plus, the students were easily able to get responses within the semester.

The feedback students got from real-world consumers was formative: Beyond the respondents’ words, the students were able to see facial reactions and subtle nonverbal cues, providing valuable insight into consumer emotions and motivations. Wharton believes this guided his students forward, putting together the needs they’d identified with what consumers say. “This is where the great insights come from,” he said.

Perhaps the best result of all: Several student projects went on to get real-world VC funding. It doesn’t get more successful than that. Hear Dr. Lautman’s insights here.

How mobile has redefined the consumer decision journey

How mobile has redefined the consumer decision journey

The consumer journey, from I-need-some-ideas through I-want-to-buy-it, is increasingly guided by the smartphone.This means retailers need to show up in a useful way online in order to help guide that decision. How can you do this most effectively? You can check out the Think with Google study (powered by mindswarms) here.

Mobile Video Surveys Reframe Global Qual

Mobile Video Surveys Reframe Global Qual

Rob Klingensmith, Chief Strategic Officer of Marcel Worldwide, worked with mindswarms to collect consumer insights in 5 different countries for Luxottica, makers of the world’s iconic Ray-Ban and Perso brands. He discovered mobile video surveys are redefining global qual, opening doors for companies to efficiently and affordably test foreign markets.

In The Past

Up until relatively recently, global qualitative research was out of reach for a lot of companies and occasions. Yet, many companies are looking to expand globally and have very little understanding of how their products or services may fare in foreign markets. Historically, executing a global qualitative research study in multiple countries could run companies anywhere from US $300,000 to US $600,000, making it cost-prohibitive for a lot of businesses. In addition, global qualitative research could often take at least three months, and even six months or more, to complete. The result is that global qualitative research was not even a realistic option for many companies and/or research occasions.

A New Frontier

[Mobile video surveys allow a broader range of companies access to global qualitative research, quickly getting feedback from consumers around the world, in their native language, in situ. In addition, mobile video surveys’ flexibility enables global research to be applied to a wide variety of occasions from early stage need-finding in R&D through prototype testing, packaging testing, and all the way into marketing and advertising]


On assignment with Luxottica in Italy – makers of some of the world’s most iconic eyewear brands like Ray-Ban and Persol – Marcel Worldwide needed to gather insight on attitudes towards the different brands, globally. Based in France, Marcel Worldwide’s Chief Strategic Officer – Rob Klingensmith – had a specific list of countries he needed to gather consumer insight from. He was also faced with a very tight timeline in order to inform Marcel’s upcoming campaign.

Rob’s team worked closely with mindswarms to identify the right type of consumer in five countries around the world. Each respondent was asked to respond in their native language to seven survey questions via mobile video. Those responses, translated by a dedicated project manager, were fed back to Marcel Worldwide where the study helped shape the creative brief and key messaging platform.


Luckily I knew about mindswarms from my days in San Francisco when they were a start-up. There would have been no other way to get global qual insights in time to inform our work, with the budget we had.

~ Rob Klingensmith, Chief Strategic Officer

The insights that Marcel Worldwide gathered not only created the foundation for their work across multiple brands, but also helped the client feel more confident in the messaging. Thanks to mobile video, the clients could literally see for themselves that the messaging was addressing real consumer insight versus speculation gathered anecdotally through organic internal channels. Marcel Worldwide reaped the benefits of this innovative method, and they see it as a paradigm shift that opens up so many possibilities for the future.


I’ve been in this business over 15 years. Mobile video surveys have dramatically changed the way we think about global qual; it’s not just for special occasions anymore. And global qual is not just the province of only the elite brands and companies with deep pockets.

~ Rob Klingensmith, Chief Strategic Officerr