Watch and be inspired: learnings from Gogglebox


I’m sure many of you have seen Gogglebox, Channel 4’s slightly surreal reality TV show that has us watching families and groups of friends from around the country reacting to British TV shows from their own homes.

A very simple, but clever concept, Gogglebox has won numerous awards since it first aired in 2013.  But why is it so popular? Why do we love watching it so much?

The concept is novel and characters are great of course, hand-picked for good TV viewing, but I think it’s the refreshingly honest, sometimes controversial, but ultimately real reactions of real people that makes good viewing. 

In the world of market research and design research, getting honest reactions and meaningful feedback from consumers is the Holy Grail when it comes to testing new ideas and concepts, but this can be much harder than it sounds.

In traditional forms of qualitative research such as focus groups and depth interviews, the moderator leads the discussion, introducing stimulus and ideas and gathering feedback. Having observed and moderated many of these myself over the years, I often have a nagging feeling that we’re not getting the full picture. 

In the research world, we often joke that some of the best conversations in a focus group are when the moderator leaves the room. Respondents often feel they are on best behaviour when attending a research discussion. Sometimes they say what they think you want to hear, sometimes they exaggerate an opinion in order to have something to say, and above all they tend to over-rationalise their responses.

Inspired by the Gogglebox format, we decided to trial a new approach to concept research by taking the moderator out of the room. We designed a living room “set” and recruited friendship groups to take part in creative research sessions to review a range of early packaging concepts as part of a packaging innovation project for Tetra Pak, a global food packaging manufacturer. Each concept was introduced through a short video, and a second screen was used to direct the discussion through questions and prompt the group to interact with prototypes and other stimulus available to them on the set.

The approach proved to be both fun and effective. Initial reactions were much easier to gauge through facial response and body language. Conversations were much richer, more natural, more honest. Above all, the relaxed setting and shift of responsibility from moderator to the participants made them more proactive and creative in mindset, helping to build and develop the concepts rather than simply critique. 

We continue to experiment and push boundaries with our insight and design research work, introducing new approaches that are influenced by a diverse set of disciplines.

We are looking for more brands to join us on this journey and trial new approaches to help create truly meaningful products and brand experiences for their customers.

For more information, contact Kate Leckie Head of Research