“It’s an interesting time to be talking to people about cleaning,” according to Natalie Swanson of Folk Research, “because cleaning is actually quite cool at the moment. There’s lots of people on social media who have been dubbed ‘cleanfluencers’, who are out there doing extreme cleaning and extolling the practical and emotional value of cleaning your house.”

At the same time, consumers are becoming more aware of the cleaning products themselves and the chemicals contained in them – great for cutting through grime, not so great for the user, their immediate family or the wider environment.

That’s the context in which Alkimi, a small family-run company in the UK that makes cleaning products, approached Folk Research. It had an idea to create a new non-toxic product, it knew the kind of thing it wanted to make but didn’t really know where it might sit in the market and what the brand would be.

When you’re developing a new brand “you need to talk to people about their unexamined behaviour”, Swanson told the IIeX conference (Amsterdam, February 2019). “You need to get consumers thinking about stuff they’ve never thought about or expressed [a view on] before”; that way you start to understand what needs exist that haven’t been addressed.