Purchase Decision Case Study



A consumer products company wanted to understand the practices, needs and wants around one of our basic human needs—drinking water.  Their objective was to determine the market need and positioning for a modified home refrigerator with a unique method of built-in water filtration.  Key questions: Who are the key targets for this product? What are the factors that drive refrigerator purchases and how are these factors prioritized?  Could high quality water filtration be a leverage point for a refrigerator purchase?

Process: Ethnography (in-home and in-store), supplemented by interviews in-facility.

Phase One:  Ethnography

  • In-home: Observed usage and storage of drinking water (bottled, filtered) in the home
  • In-store: Conducted interviews with refrigerator purchasers in retail outlets to understand their decision making  process and hierarchy of criteria when making this large, important household purchase.

Phase Two:  Purchase decision Fieldwork

  • Explored reactions to client’s prototype product to understand how well it answered unmet needs
  • Used validation scenarios to confirm decision criteria
  • Test impact of various messaging options


  • Rich insights into consumer’s behaviors and attitudes
  • Clear direction on which leverage points to address, both when purchasing a large item like a refrigerator, and a small item like bottled water or a filtration system.
  • Detailed messaging recommendations for the brand