Whether in commercial or social marketing we are all in the business of behaviour change.

We want to understand a particular aspect of human behaviour in order to influence it.

For a long time, the prevailing view was that individual attitudes and motivations (i.e. personal characteristics) drove behaviour. That if we understand those, we can change behaviour.

We now know this isn’t really the case – behaviour trumps attitude pretty much every time, and we’ll even change our attitudes to justify our behaviour.

So to influence behaviour, we need to first and foremost understand it – and understand it fully.

We need to immerse ourselves in the ‘culture’ and the ‘context’ that shape the behaviour we are interested in changing.

For we qual researchers, this means we can no longer be just a skilled interviewer / moderator, we need to also be a ‘consumer anthropologist’ – adept at immersing ourselves in a consumer’s world, in being able to understand and formalise the patterns and drivers of behaviour our clients want to influence.