Worldfish tool navigator for market based research 2018
research methods for
About the Tool Navigator
When you are doing research in low-income countries and their informal markets, investigating and
gathering information and data to inform user-responsive innovation can be a very complicated task.
Applying conventional tactics and relying on desk research often do not produce efficient results in
Base of the Pyramid (BoP) markets. Even though many of those countries have national bureaus of
statistics and other information agencies, access to sector-specific data is typically very poor.
The Tool Navigator aims to guide you in doing on-the-ground, user-oriented research in low-income
contexts. In particular, it is meant to support you in understanding farmers', retailers’ or consumers'
own needs, perspectives and preferences so that technical or market innovations can be more
responsive to their needs. This includes generating insights needed for crop, fish or animal breeding
programs. This user-oriented research will help you complement, verify or sharpen your secondary
information sources. In the end, the most effective approach in establishing an understanding of your
users is to be present in the market, making it possible to see the conditions on the ground and meet
the different stakeholders. We have selected a range of user-oriented research methods that have
been developed for and successfully practiced in BoP markets as they allow researchers to
overcome distrust and cultural gaps.
This publication is in no way a complete set of tools. Neither does it provide you with all of the
background and instructions needed to implement the suggested methodologies in a user- or
gender-sensitive way. Instead, the Tool Navigator refers to practical tools that are already publicly
available. Some of these (unconventional) tools have been historically used by designers, but they
have found their way to a broader audience of researchers and development practitioners. We hope
they will also help you in your research.
Why you need these tools
It is important to differentiate between what people say and feel. Many of our dreams, desires and worries take place in our subconscious, which
makes it hard for your target group to express their ‘real’ feelings. Through user-oriented and participatory research methods, we can help
respondents understand and explain their latent needs. By understanding people’s contexts we can explain the underlying desires and place
them within the total customer experience (based on research by Sleeswijk Visser et al. 2005).
interviews, focus groups
Learn from others
Watch these videos to learn how others have
used user-oriented and participatory market
research methods to drive their social
A business case for a reusable
menstrual hygiene product in
Development of a market
strategy for off-grid power
Endeva market research
Development of a solar kiosk for
communities in Madagascar.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_havfQUMZns www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Iii9Rfe5oI www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5RpR7XXiBs
How do I use the Tool Navigator?
We want to understand the intra-household decision-making process
for food expenditure and consumption, from both women's and men's
perspectives in poor households in district X, so we can develop
more effective behavior-change campaigns.
Define your target group and your research purpose
First take a moment to clarify who your target group is (be specific in terms of
geography, gender, wealth, livelihoods and whatever else is required) and what you
are trying to understand from your target group.
Make sure you are thinking about your target group in gender-inclusive terms.
We will use SenseMaker® to capture 800 stories from different
rural household members, balancing input from women and men.
We will gently guide the conversation by showing pictures of food
Select a tool
Then, select an appropriate tool from the Tool Navigator on the following pages, based
on best fit of the tool purpose with your research purpose. You might also want to
We will ask a local artist to make sketches people can relate to.
We will use the app offline for rural areas where the connection
is not secure.
Tailor the tool
Make sure to study the tool and tailor it to your own needs as well as to the
constraints of your target users or research environment.
Assess and plan how to make the tool gender-integrated, drawing in gender expertise
as needed (see also the section ‘A note on gender-integrated research’).
We will invest in good translation and run qualitative analysis at
the end to detect interesting patterns (depicted in heat maps). To
‘make sense’ of these patterns, we will have an analysis
workshop with field experts.
Already think about how you will manage the data that you will collect to make sure you
get the most out of it with the least effort.
Plan for how you will disaggregate the data by gender, and by other aspects if relevant
(for example, by wealth group if your target group has more than one wealth group).
Think through and plan for ethical aspects, including permissions and how to minimize
burdens on people's time, while maximizing value to them.
We need a recruiter, field coordinator, trainer for data
enumerators (men for men), quality translators and field experts
for our workshop.
Create a team
Involve the right people including local authorities to make sure your research goes
Instruct your research team carefully and practice all methods first. Then you are
good to go!
Overview of 16 tools
Get a better grasp of
things that are
complex or sensitive
for your target users
See how people
respond to new
Figure out what
people value in their
life or work
Learn about people’s
daily habits through
Observe your users
group to understand
what cannot be
Sit together with
your target users
and listen to their
Tools, summaries and resources
Supplement your quantitative market surveys with semi-structured interviews with individuals from your target
group. With this activity, get a deeper and more varied insight into your target groups, which is critical to identify
real opportunities and understand their current challenges. You can use different methods to dive deep such as
the Five Whys.
Find a complete list of resources on page 11
Focus groups often consist of 4–8 people from the target group. These sessions generally last 1–2 hours and
provide a quick overview of the opinions and needs of the target group. Remember to run separate groups for
different subgroups, such as for women and for men, as needed. Part of their value lies in the unexpected
findings that can come from a free-flowing discussion in the group, using a topic guide. When deeper and more
individual information is needed, go for interviews instead.
(Unstructured) visits in selected places and shadowing people (with their permission) help understand what
people do in a specific situation in ‘real life’. At the start of a project, shadowing helps familiarize yourself with a
certain practice or group of people, including differences by or relations between women and men or other
groups. People’s everyday lives can be so habitual that some issues may not be as apparent to them; sometimes
observing them can reveal hidden aspects. Observation is also very important to check and contrast ‘what
happens’ with ‘what people say happens’.
MC Toolboxpage 68DIYToolkit
Go the extra mile, spend time with women and men from your target group, and participate in their daily activities.
Taking part in their daily activities will reveal not just the physical details of the person’s life but the routines and
habits that animate it. Honesty, reflections and good ideas are often expressed while people work together or
during informal chats in the evenings.
MC Toolboxpage 70IDEODesign K
With self-documentation methods like photo journals, you invite your target group to become active researchers
themselves and document their day-to-day activities. This can give you insight into areas that are hard to access
from the outside, such as family routines. This can also be empowering for the person doing the documentation.
Make sure you sit together afterward and ask the person to walk you through what was captured.
Low-power, low-maintenance cellular or satellite-enabled sensors are becoming increasingly affordable, allowing
direct measurements of the performance and use of interventions in an entirely new way. They fill critical gaps in
understanding the habits of people. Unilever, for example, has used sensors to monitor usage of toothbrushes
and soaps. As with all tools, they require appropriate and explicit consent from the people involved.
ITO CiscoReportKopernik Catal
By putting a deck of cards, each with a word or single image, in the hands of people in your interview or focus
group, you can quickly spark a deeper conversation about what matters most to them. Challenge your target
group to actively value and rank products, services or detailed aspects of a solution in accordance with their
MC Toolboxpage 76IDEODesign K
People use stories as filters to make sense of the world around them. The SenseMaker® methodology allows
you to capture stories and visualize them to find interesting patterns that will give you a deeper understanding of
what matters to your users. SenseMaker® combines soft data of qualitative research with hard data of
Cognitive Edge WebBoP Incblog po
Build situational stories to make it easier for your target group to understand abstract questions. Develop a
fictional or realistic story that sums up your understanding and then present it to your target group during an
interview or focus group for clarification, feedback or to validate your assumptions. Use personas if you want to
define and verify segments within the group of users you are targeting.
MC Toolboxpage 74DIYToolkit
Getting your target users to make things can help you understand how they think, what they value, and may
surface unexpected themes and needs. For example, collages are an easy, low-fidelity way to invite people to
make something tangible and then explain why they made certain decisions.
MC Toolboxpage 80IDEODesign K
Rapid prototyping is an incredibly effective way to make ideas tangible, learn through making and quickly get your
target group to say how they appreciate certain propositions or interventions. You can use different types of
prototypes such as storyboards, role plays and mock-ups. No need to make it perfect, just good enough to get
the idea across so that people can respond to it.
IDEODesign KitDelft Design G
Display your prototype at a local point-of-purchase for your target users to assess the product. The activity gives
you the most candid feedback. It can also help you create an early and motivated dialogue with potential local
retailers or entrepreneurs. Invite them to share ideas on how to optimize the proposition based on their dialogue
Tools, summaries and resources
Find a complete list of resources on page 11
Assist groups or individuals in making a simple map that represents their activities within a given time frame,
such as ‘yesterday’s schedule’. This method provides a good introduction into the current local practices and the
opportunities on which improvements could be made.
Focus group activity that allows your target group to map the socioeconomic relationships between relevant
individuals and organizations. You can use this activity early in your research to identify relevant stakeholders
through deep dialogues. Ask participants to map out the people they are related to through their business,
community or daily activities. To help understand gender and other dynamics and come up with gender- and
socially-inclusive solutions, include gender, wealth group or other social dimensions of the people on the map
World Vision to
Using visualization tools to generate an estimate of the input and output at a general level of your target group,
such as a fish breeder or smallholder family. This allows you to acquire some numbers about what goes in and
out of a role in a value chain or how a family spends money. A resource flow is an exercise you can try while you
are conducting an interview. As with other tools, be ready to do this separately with women and with men (and
potentially other subgroups) so that you can see if and how they are similar or different. This will help make for
more responsive innovations and recommendations.
Price mapping is very useful in determining the different costs that a target group encounters, such as throughout
a given supply chain. The map allows you to do simple analyses together with your participants and address their
capacity to invest in new solutions. An alternative method is the money game.
Tools, summaries and resources
Find a complete list of resources on page 11
A note on gender-integrated research
Incorporating both men and women in the value chain
Women entrepreneurs can play a vital role in boosting
economic productivity and growth in emerging economies
if they are included as viable and trusted economic actors
across the agri-food value chains. At the same time, in
many contexts there are barriers that prevent women from
engaging and benefiting on par with men from innovation
processes and value chain opportunities. For that reason,
we encourage you to answer the following questions:
1.What key problems or opportunities in the value chain
do women face that your research, product or service can
solve? What about men?
2.To what extent and why are these challenges or
opportunities the same or different and what does that tell
you about how to focus and design your study?
Taking a gender-integrated approach within your research
The research methodologies presented in the Tool Navigator might require
adaptation when involving both men and women. It is important to make the
participants feel comfortable since you are trying to get (personal) insights from
them. Take time to think about questions such as the following:
1. How are you defining your study aims such that you will benefit both
women and men?
2. How are you defining your target groups in such a way that you will
engage with and benefit both women and men?
3. What are the risks or potential negative outcomes from the research or
innovations, such as marginalizing women or a vulnerable group of people and
how can these be mitigated?
4. How do you need to refine and implement your tools so that you can
engage equitably with and understand the needs, preferences, barriers and
opportunities of both women and men? In other words, how will you ensure that
both women and men are heard and that you can understand how and to what
extent their needs are similar or different?
5. Within the detailed planning: When and where do processes need to
take place to accommodate women's time and work demands? When do you
need to talk to women and men separately? Are different forms of communication
needed? Do researchers need to be the same gender as the participants?
6. What else do you need to think about to ensure that the findings can be
disaggregated and that both the process and outcomes are equitable?
ProducersSuppliers Distributors Customers
Essential links and more information
For the Tool Navigator we selected tools from toolkits that are publicly available. These are:
Delft Design Guide
Development Impact and You (DIY) Toolkit
Frog’s Collective Action Toolkit
IDEO Design Kit
ITO Cisco Report
Market Creation (MC) Toolbox
SenseMaker® – BoP Inc food and behavior sensing blog post
SenseMaker® – Cognitive Edge Web
GTZ Practitioner Guide
World Vision Social Mapping Tool
Lastly, you might want to look at some of these scientific publications on the recommended tools:
Sanders L and Stappers PJ. 2012. Convivial Toolbox: Generative research for the front end of design.
Gaver W, Boucher A, Pennington S and Walker B. 2004. Cultural probes and the value of uncertainty.
Herbert J and Rubin I. 2005. Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data.
Hultink E. 2013. Choice of consumer research methods in the front end of new product development.
For questions and feedback regarding this Tool Navigator, please contact BoP Innovation Center (email@example.com).
For more information about the authors, go to www.bopinc.org and fish.cgiar.org.