Ava Lindberg

Cultural anthropologist, depth psychologist, and president of SunResearch

 

Ava Lindberg is president and founder of SunResearch, making waves and bringing light to the research and marketing world for over 20 years. Ava heightens research innovation and understanding with creative groups, psychological depth interviews, and live and digital ethnography taken from cultural anthropology, depth psychology, penetrating projective techniques, role plays, expanded ideation, and training in observation and archetypes…helping marketing teams discern, prioritize, and activate the right innovations, concept creation, product development, and compelling branding. Ava’s experience spans some of the world’s top brands at ConAgra Foods, Hilton Worldwide, Unilever, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, and International Data Corporation. Her research collaboration with marketing has received two David Ogilvy Awards.

Welcome to SunResearch

Bringing You Breakthrough Insight for Marketing and Messaging. The Power of Hybrid Innovative Qualitative Research.

Our Philosophy

  

Each research project is handled by the perfect team. When moderated by a single researcher, the study is backed by cutting-edge supervisors, facility, technology, and documentary partners. Customer journeys and multicultural projects can blend cultural anthropologists, psychologists, online, and multilingual moderators fused by experience and relationship that enhance team affinity and achieve superlative results.

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Selected Clients 

 

"The video clips developed from the ethnography are fantastic and very helpful in the storytelling. We all loved these, and it brings your work to life!"

 

 

-CPG marketing client

 

 

 

"The archetypal workshop was a pivotal step for us to more tightly define our true brand persona and afford us greater consistency in our strategic communication approach."

 

-CPG insights client

 

 

 

"The path-to-purchase presentation you created, we shared with our stakeholder council last week. It was very well received!"

 

-Insights client in CPG industry

 

 

 

"You’re a moderator who’s great at getting at the emotions underneath consumer perceptions in the financial category."

 

-Research agency client

 

 

 

"I was very satisfied with your work and insights, and the collaboration was fantastic, even across continents."

 

-Consumer insights client

 

 

 

"We had 'goose bumps' when we heard the archetypal mission statement based upon our session." 

 

-Director, CPG client

 

 

 

"Your shifts and ability to follow new leads gained new results for us and made a big difference."

 

-International marketing collaborator

 

 

 

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Ava Lindberg

Cultural anthropologist, depth psychologist, and president of SunResearch

 

Ava Lindberg is president and founder of SunResearch, making waves and bringing light to the research and marketing world for over 22 years. Ava heightens research innovation and understanding with creative groups, psychological depth interviews, and live and digital ethnography taken from cultural anthropology...

QSR case history:  Salad and craving​

Here’s a new success story, aka qualitative case history, that I heard last week in Toronto from our fast food client. Our research team did two large culture-specific authentic ethnographies that were live, in context, at the right timing, and in-person—along with focus groups and digital ethnography—in consumer homes and in their favorite fast food restaurants.  It was for a QSR (quick serve restaurant) brand with almost 100% visibility internationally. We conducted the work in North America.  After hours of observation—but definitely from the very beginning to the end of our ethnographies—our anthropologists discovered the subtle emotional obstacle that was also the biggest core insight.  Craving.  What we saw and experienced:  When moms and dads went through the threshold of this QSR with their kids, they entered into a known atmosphere of craving and indulgence that they loved, desired, and that then took them over.  Even and especially if these consumers represented a typology who much preferred salads, natural and lighter meals, or eating healthy organic foods (we did an algorithm to be sure this conscious, healthy-eating typology was being studied), they invariably felt attracted and pushed as if against their wills to eat whatever they wanted (probably from childhood) inside the QSR.  Then they felt guilty, later.  Basically, as soon as they passed through the brand’s portal, they found themselves compelled to indulge with fries, multilayered burgers, and flurries of desserts even though the QSR’s salads were advertised, readily available, of several wonderful varieties, and deliciously, amazingly fresh. This QSR had been using a freshness positioning for their salad advertising—over 30 years of freshness ads—from 1987 into early 2017.  It wasn’t working.  Freshness is a given and of course it’s the category standard. Then the insight consumer research manager, when reviewing more fresh salad advertising storyboards, remembered the key insight and obstacle from our ethnography.  It was craving.  She convinced the agency to flip freshness and do a new campaign based upon archetypal craving for their salads.  The agency developed a new commercial based upon craving and indulgence, with a male-female couple kidding around about who goes to this QSR to eat salads anyhow, the trickster-like male character with gestures of stealing indulgent ingredients from her salad, and beauty appearance elements of craving in the salad visuals.  The ads moved from outmoded Innocent to new Transformer archetype. Result:  Salads are flying off the shelves. The commercial is differentiating, motivating, and recalled.  Healthy-eating consumers are coming to the QSR and eating salads with delight and indulgence. They experience no guilt and return for more. The advertising campaign for salads is no longer the category stereotype, which is taken for granted by consumers, but aligned with the brand’s core insight of craving based upon real-life, true, emotional, archetypal resonance.   Conquer your craving!​

Visionary archetypes: History and contemporary applications​

The more we investigate and use archetypes, the more exciting are the archetypal variations and possibilities within categories that exist. And, the more that archetypes seem coherent, motivating, and compelling. There are corporate organizational archetypes, psychotherapeutic archetypes, and branding archetypes, and each archetypal category seems to have its own purpose, definition, and application. The way archetypes are defined and used in the contemporary perspective depends on postmodern theory, expertise, and by category.  But the earliest articulations of archetypes originate with the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who hypothesized ideal forms or Ideas that existed in the universal mind and were the standards and perfect innate forms of which material forms in the regular world were imaged. The founder of contemporary archetypal theory and creator of the field of depth psychology is C.G. Jung who, between the 1920s and early 1960s, discovered, described, and used in clinical psychiatry and voluminous psychological writing the idea of attracting motifs, images, and structures within the psyche that he saw as a deeper form of archetypes.  Jung and now classical post-Jungian psychologists (of which I am one) observe the presence of archetypes in consumers, patients, in culture, in brands and organizational structures, as well as in worldwide art, literature, film, and mythology.  The Jungian archetypes include the shadow, the mother, the child, the hero, the trickster, the anima-animus, the wise old man or archetype of meaning, rebirth, and the path or journey.   Most Jungian archetypes emerge in relationship to the path of individuation, which can be defined as a journey to make the unconscious elements conscious (often based upon compelling dreams, aspirations, fantasy, and experiences of synchronicity occurring in the outside world at the perfect moment of psychic awareness), thereby helping to seek and develop one’s inherent destiny and unique blend of individual talents.  The path of individuation is different when experienced for individuals, corporations, and cultures. Post-Jungian practitioners continue to explore and hypothesize that archetypes—powerful emotional, spiritual, conceptual structures innate within the psyche and which are present or potentialized within each person and culture throughout time and location—are located in what is called the collective unconscious.  This innateness and existence of archetypes emergent at key moments in a person or corporation’s existence from the vast unconscious worldwide collectivity is what make archetypes so powerful. To accept archetypal theory, one needs to at least acknowledge the idea of the collective unconscious as a dynamic, transpersonal psychic field underlying all consciousness and containing archetypes similar to the compelling nature of the instincts. The universality of the collective unconscious suggests that archetypes can be sourced and interact with others in the imagination and within genes, biology, and the body.  Archetypes are like invisible containers of energy that then generate archetypal images, or primal images of recurrent motifs and resonating attraction, that shape and influence persons, cultures, and organizations who are open to their affect.  Starting in the late 1980s and going strong throughout 2017 in academic management journals and corporate practices, archetypally oriented management consultants and business academicians have found archetypes to be an innovative, insightful way to understand, show, and conceptualize the core typologies underlying industry and organizational structures.  We can explore management archetypes to demonstrate the interaction between the dual concepts of interpretative scheme and structural arrangement.  Specifically, an interpretative scheme describes an organization’s conception of what it should be, what it should be doing, and how it should be evaluated, shaped by the prevailing set of the organization’s core ideas, beliefs, and values.   The interpretative scheme then intersects with the company’s structural arrangement to implement and reinforce these ideas, beliefs, and values through establishing the functionality of structures and processes that reflect its emotional, aspirational, cultural beliefs and values. Thus, a strong interrelationship between interpretative scheme and the structural arrangement mutually reinforce the corporate archetype. There are three positions of coherence in archetypal formation of a corporation: Archetypal coherence: The interpretative scheme and structural arrangement match, reflect, and reinforce each other.  When optimum, coherence is vibrant and unitary…or when it is reflecting transformation, it moves between one archetype and another archetype in a planned, creative, resonating way.Embryonic archetype coherence: Here, some elements are discordant or do not perfectly match.  Such organizations may show the effects of archetypal change that is not planned and that may differ inharmoniously between global and organizations vs. organizations at the local level within individual countries. Some shift between outside practices vs. internal modalities.Schizoid, unresolved incoherence: Some organizations show the disturbing presence of two different and incompatible archetypes at the same time, with competing internal interpretative schemes and structural arrangements.  Such issues show up as discordant external communications, a failed change process, employee stress, ambiguous reaction to new brands by consumers, decreasing share of market, or being trapped in advertising chaos between two or more competing archetypes.  These problems make the company or brand feel ineffective with little traction by consumers. The schizoid corporation/brand may require a fundamental archetypal assessment and potential transformation through an archetypal development facilitated in special corporate teams leading to revisions of advertising positionings, policies, and structures.    The use of archetypes along with research, creative team facilitation, and innovation can help a visionary corporation see and meet its branding, advertising, and new product goals successfully. ​

Ethnography for storytelling

In live and digital authentic ethnography, we get to see consumers live their real-world lives as they show and describe their deepest dreams, needs, obstacles, and successes. Upcoming posts will how we link consumer stories to brand stories through observation, teamwork, intuition, personas, and archetypes.​

Running creative “focus” groups in 2017​

What’s the best way to run what used to be called focus groups when this methodology is the beginning to a hybrid, innovative, exploratory, qualitative research effort?  Once upon a time, the original style of focus groups was used for everything…from concept reaction, to behavioral and attitudinal focus, and to get high-level needs information at a broad, diverse level. Groups were sometimes the only methodology; their findings were then quantified.  Then, focus groups fell out of favor 10+ years ago, as online bulletin boards and mobile techniques emerged. There were complaints of bandwagoning and too much subjectivity with the old focus groups.  However, groups are back in fashion again.  We’ve discovered (as have clients) that we really want to—need to—understand the social and collective elements of a product, concept, or category.  The social and collective are just one of multiple perspectives on the persona of the consumer, and the social and collective are only possible through live groups.  Of course, groups aren’t a final word on a study because we want a 360 view of the consumer through more individualized online and personalized in-situ ethnographic methodologies.  But, groups remain the best beginning to a customer journey because they open the inquiry into multiple perspectives that can finetune the online and put it into an observational dimension once we’re at the ethnography stage.  Through the creative group, we get to know the real consumer in person. When running contemporary focus groups in 2017 that start an exploratory effort, let them be as spontaneous as possible. The new name of the game is to eliminate “focus” from the methodology of focus groups.  Run them for a little longer time, like 2.5 hours, and take a break in the middle, to get consumers really relaxed and friendly with you and the others.  Don’t worry too much about bandwagoning and competing opinions.  If it gets too much, you can always take out the disturbing consumer. Use a lot of projective exercises, keep crayons and archetype cards around for new insights, go deep emotionally, and ask a few off-the-wall questions about consumers’ lives, loves, and interests outside of the topic at hand.  Ask about weight loss or dating even if we’re in the middle of a technology project.  Ask if anyone had a dream or a fantasy that they can tell us about…on anything as long as it’s not TMI.  You’ll be surprised how revitalized a group can get when the subject is really relevant.  We can always go back to the real topic once a new wave of subjective vitality has inundated the group.  We like to double moderate our creative groups when it seems right.  If two anthropologists are going to do a phase of later observational ethnographic methodologies, the same two anthropologists or psychologists will run the group together, one sitting across from the one in the moderator’s seat.  Two moderators frame the group.  There are three benefits for double moderation: The consumers get to know that there are several research leadership styles, they get to know the other anthropologist by name and personality who might do their personal ethnography in another week or moderate their portion of the online, and the other anthropologist can take over while the first moderator leaves the room, checks with the client team in the back, or gets materials ready for showing and discussion. Things stay livelier with two.  The moderators can talk with each other and ask questions out loud, like, I wonder why the group went silent when we showed this concept?  Consumers dive back in to answer two of us.  New or deeper questions that one moderator didn’t think of can be asked by the second.  Sometimes, we have a client from the backroom sit in the groups to act as a second moderating force.   In 2017, the way we moderate our groups is to actively seek looseness and environmental subjectivity, creativity, and spontaneity.  We encourage emotions, adding in projective techniques early on. We go on and off topic.  We add in moderators.  We put in a wishing module that extends to consumers’ lives and families independent of the topic.  The topic remains important, sure, but it’s not necessary to run a strictly linear group with a totally democratic style.  No, we don’t want distressing or disturbing dominators—nor wallflowers—but people are people and we want to see them interact in a highly social experiential mode that portrays the collective spirit of the concept or category. In summary:  Wish a little.  Let the group dive into the collective unconscious.  Let creative—rather than focus—groups be the entry point into a hybrid qualitative effort that quickly moves into online and ethnographic dimensions to gain a 360 perspective for our consumers.​

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Selected Methodologies 

 

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