Lowe London have started something called lowe Groundwork, a sceme where 24 planners will be sent to live, shop and breathe with the punters.
Every fortnight, two Lowe planners will be 'relocated' to live in one of the areas that have the most typical population of a distinctive consumer types, from single mothers in council flats to families of four living in suburban semis, inner-city Asian families and wealthy countryfolk in rural areas.
The groundwork began this June when a team of planners from the agency's Knightsbridge offices relocated to Hastings, a tourist and fishing community. The planners will be activly engaged in the community, even completing tasks like managing a local supermarket shop on a budget, and joining the communities in their daily routines. Future locations in the study include the Scottish Highlands, Morpeth North, Aberaman in South Wales, Beckton in London's East End, North Norfolk, Solihull, Glasgow and even the Isles of Scilly.
Russ Lidstone, the Planning Director of Lowe, explains:
"Planners at Lowe are expected to be cultural weather forecasters, and this type of ethnographic research is designed to give them a deeper and richer understanding of Britain and its communities. It is also a genuine exercise to address the core criticism which is too often thrown at adfolk - that we are out of touch: Groundwork is about ensuring our planners understand the Harrogate Volvo owner as much as the 18 year-old single mum living in Moss Side. We are pulling ourselves apart from other ad agencies and sprinkling an understanding of reality into everything we do, and using innovative research to complement standard techniques such as focus groups."
Cathy Lewis, the planner at Lowe who conceived the scheme, chimed in:
"Real consumer understanding is vital to commercial success, but modern research is no longer generating the required level of insight. Focus group research has created a composite No-Man who resembles no-one anyone has ever met. We do need to know consumers' buying cycles and product usage but we need more than that - we need a view of the whole person if we are to truly understand and influence them."
Source: Lowe Press Release - Image: Media Guardian June 04.