Uncovering Tacit Motivations

To finish expanding on the techniques used to uncover explicit and tacit motivations, let's talk about uncovering tacit motivations.

As mentioned in the previous post, tacit motivations are those that consumers either cannot or do not tell you about directly.  As such, the research to uncover them needs to foster a deep connection with the consumer.  Specific interview methods should be developed based on the type of information you need to learn, the overall goal of your project, and the types of people you are interviewing.  

This type of research is conducted when you want to develop something new and different, and it is important to remember that the consumer may not be able to imagine something new and different.  When we talked about uncovering explicit motivations, we talked about conducting in-context interviews to learn about problems consumers may have with your current products.  In this case, we may also conduct an in-context interview, but the conversation with the consumer is different.  It is less focused on having a consumer give you an answer, and more focused on having the consumer tell you how they feel when they perform a certain task.  The interviewer may then probe about other tasks that make them feel the same way, or other solutions that may make them feel better.  Direct statements are used mainly to exemplify deeper thoughts, and consumers can only be expected to describe their current reality. It's then your job to do translate this information into criteria for your new offering. 

Since you're trying to create something that does not yet exist, you cannot take the consumers' suggestions at face value.  The translation between what they say and the criteria you need to develop for a successful new product may take several iterations.  For example, you may discover a strong theme in your research that consumers lack confidence in performing certain tasks related to your category.  You may then find out that other situations may build confidence, but may not be related to your category.  Your job then is to identify the basic elements of confidence building, and find ways to incorporate that type of criteria into your new product.  This may take several iterations, will require multiple translation steps, and it is not a linear process at all.  

These research methods can yield great insights to establish criteria for new products, services, and business models.  Just remember that the process is messy and indirect.  Failure tends to occur when the group tries to derive new offerings from things consumers have said directly.  The time must be taken to make the links from tacit motivation to tangible offering.