OXFORD: A new approach to understanding consumers' needs and the mindsets in play at certain occasions or within specific categories can enable brand owners to identify where their greatest opportunity lies, and target it accordingly.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Luisa Robertson, research solutions director at MMR Research Worldwide, argues that simplistic frameworks based on demographics or occasions are no longer – if they ever were – a good enough approach to researching and fathoming consumer behaviour and attitudes.

Instead she favours a method that acknowledges that people change according to situation, emotional state, context, and who they are with.

This, Robertson terms 'Mindsets' and says it enables MMR to explore the prevailing needs that exist in a market, rather than the alternative of treating everyone as an individual and a fixed entity.

"Mindsets provide a collective way of looking at things that enables brand owners to build a proposition around a set of emotional and functional needs that will exist for a proportion of the population at a given time," she explains.

Having established the Mindsets, it is then possible to overlay those products that people are currently using when in those Mindsets and to see where "white space" exists for innovation.

An important advantage claimed for this approach is that it does not limit understanding of product usage to one category.

For instance, a chocolate maker exploring a 'comforting' Mindset would find it extremely useful to also understand which other products – coffees, crisps, biscuits, etc – people choose when they are in that Mindset.

That could enable it to potentially "steal" from other categories if it was able to deliver against the needs of a Mindset. Alternatively, it could understand why these products were being selected and use those findings as inspiration to move in a new direction through NPD.

"It [Mindsets] enables an understanding of potential stretch and the opportunities for category growth," Robertson says.

Data sourced from Admap