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3 Generative Research Methods that Drive Innovation

3 Generative Research Methods that Drive Innovation


Generative research methods such as diary studies, mobile ethnography, and IDIs drive innovation by providing rich insights into users’ real-world behaviors, attitudes, and experiences. By leveraging these methods, companies can create innovative products and services that resonate with users, gaining them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Generative research & innovation

Mobile Ethnography

In-depth interviews

In-depth interviews (IDIs) involve one-on-one conversations between a researcher and a participant, allowing the researcher to probe deeply into the participant’s thoughts and feelings.

By conducting IDIs, researchers can gain a nuanced understanding of users’ everyday lives and what they truly need. These rich insights can inform the development of new products or services that better meet the target audience’s needs. For example, suppose IDIs reveal that customers are frustrated with a certain aspect of a product, such as a poor interface design. In that case, designers can prioritize improving that feature to make the product more user-friendly.

Subsequently, IDIs identify unmet needs or opportunities of users. By asking open-ended questions and exploring their experiences in detail, researchers may discover gaps in the market or areas where a product or service is falling short. Findings such as these may prompt companies to pivot into new domains or iterate on current features and designs.

When to use IDIs

  • To understand individual perspectives on a new product or service
  • To explore sensitive topics, such as health issues or personal finances
  • To conduct in-depth market research to inform product design or marketing strategies
  • To understand the decision-making processes of individual users
  • To understand how users will respond to a new product or service in development
  • To discover niche markets or highly specific user groups
  • To identify user pain points or unmet needs in a particular market or industry
A mobile ethnography participant documenting their eating habits

Diary studies


Generative research methods like in-depth interviews (IDIs), mobile ethnography, and diary studies provide a comprehensive view of users’ real experiences and behaviors as they go about their everyday lives. IDIs supply insights into individual perspectives, while mobile ethnography and diary studies capture daily activities and experiences. By analyzing data from these methods, researchers can better construct what their audiences look like, allowing them to create personas or define segments. These generative methods are also a powerful tool for researchers who need to uncover new insights and unmet needs that spark innovative products and features.