NEW YORK: Heineken, the brewing group, has been able to gain a deeper understanding of the habits displayed by upscale consumers through utilising Instagram as a research tool.

Mark van Iterson, Heineken's global head of design, and Thomas Troch, senior research manager at InSites Consulting, discussed this topic at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Re:Think 2015 event.

And they outlined how the photo-sharing site helped inform the "Open Designs Exploration" project, with the goal of creating upscale branded nightspots for high-end consumers. (For more, including how these insights were translated into physical spaces, read Warc's exclusive report: Heineken dresses up for upscale quaffers.)

One aspect of this initiative saw Heineken drinkers around the world upload thousands of images to the social media platform, showing what they regarded as the perfect "lounging" experience.

Through examining such "experiences and emotions" – which are a priority for Heineken – the team at InSites Consulting could delve into the wider factors of importance to upmarket customers when going for a night out.

"We started looking at what people were sharing on Instagram: what type of emotional experience were they sharing when they're thinking about nightlife?" said Troch.

The hashtags available on Instagram – and employed by users to identify that their posts reflect specific themes – offered another route for drilling down into this subject.

"We looked into a variety of nightlife names, from #nightclub, #loungebar, #champagnebar, #cocktailbar, #pub, #café – you name it," Troch said.

Understanding the attitudinal and behavioural distinctions concerning these locations also allowed Heineken and InSites Consulting to get more granular in their analysis.

The questions they examined, said Troch, included: "How is it different when they're talking in a club, versus in a pub, versus in a lounge bar? How is the drinking behaviour different in these venues?"

Pulling all this information together "basically gave us the DNA" of a lounge night out. And to build on that, Heineken recruited a panel of consumers from Instagram to expand its research further.

According to Troch, this platform ultimately provided "small, beautiful – but still impactful and very robust – data" enabling Heineken to supplement its bigger datasets regarding the same subject.

Data sourced from Warc