The Cult Marketing consumer insights ethnography research team is on the road again, this time in search of the perfect smile whitening system (SWS). Our client, a luxury teeth whitening company, asked us to evaluate several top-secret new product concepts as well as to obtain more information and uncover refinements to their current 7-day smile whitening system. The client’s current SWS is distributed in Sephora, Neiman-Marcus and other retail stores nationwide, as well as through direct sales on HSN and the client’s Web site.

To get real and useful information for our client, we are digging deep into the psychology and emotions surrounding teeth whitening, perceptions of beauty, and the various rituals and practices associated with this deeply personal topic.

We are constantly asked how we are able to recruit people to participate in brand research studies that deal with personal issues. Basically, here’s our recruiting pitch:

“We want you to let a few market researchers come into your home, watch you brush and whiten your teeth, dig around in your bathroom drawers and delve into your deepest emotions around dating, beauty, and self-confidence.”

“Oh, and by the way, we’d like you to create a collage, use the product for 7 days and attend a concept brainstorm session.”

No, we are not kidding. This pitch actually works. But why do people do this?

Surprisingly, compensation is not necessarily the reason many people opt to participate in these types of market research studies. The fact of the matter is people want a voice. They want to feel important and are excited that we – an important market research company – value their opinions and thoughts. After the camera is up and rolling, we have had many people exclaim, “I feel like I’m on the Barbara Walters Special!”

At Cult Marketing, we want our research subjects to feel special and important – because they are. One inspired person can give us the breakthrough insight we need to spawn an idea that will have a huge impact on branding and marketing. It is a unique and mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the Cult Marketing and our research subjects; we rely on them for information while they count on us to voice their opinions.

So we pack our bags and video cameras and travel across the country in search of the breakthrough insight that could mean millions of dollars to our clients. In this case, there was never a “dull” moment.