At Procter & Gamble, the future of marketing research could well begin with the washing machine.

The owner of brands like Tide and Cheer detergent, as well as Gain and Bounce dryer sheets, has long been an expert in studying consumer behavior in the laundry room. But as new technologies for generating insights emerge, the ways of understanding how people wash and dry their clothes are changing.

“We used to do a lot of habits and practices studies – big surveys, very often, [and] diary-style type of things,” Michael Lancor, Procter & Gamble’s director/consumer fundamentals and insights, explained at The Market Research Event (TMRE) 2018, an event convened by KNect365.

But as digitally-connected appliances, smart sensors, and other innovative tools grow in popularity and sophistication, self-reported information can be complemented (and, as appropriate, replaced by) indisputable behavioral statistics.

“Why do a laundry diary study when you can put a device on somebody’s washer and dryer that tells you exactly when they’re doing laundry, how many loads, what type of loads, etc?” asked Lancor. “I can guarantee you that [this new] data is wildly better than anything that they were telling us in any survey that we were doing before.