Sublime Behavior Marketing Services
Finding Truth in Context

Sublime provides unique ethnographic research that delivers actionable insights based on confirmatory qualitative analysis. Traditional market research probes only the consumer’s conscious mind. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other established methods rely on the erratic and error prone conscious mind that mis-remembers what was bought, at what price, where, and why. Habitual behavior, which accounts for most of what we do, is invisible to traditional market research. The only way to be sure that what a consumer tells you is accurate is to observe their behavior in context. Sublime does this through a process we call Habit Discovery Research.

What is Habit Discovery Research?

The use of ethnographic studies for marketing purposes is still in its infancy. Based on methods practiced by anthropologists, ethnographic research is aimed at understanding the social interactions and behavior of people within naturally occurring settings. Because of the exploratory and qualitative nature of ethnographic studies and the emphasis on cultural perspective, results vary wildly depending on the approach and priorities of the chosen ethnographer.

Sublime Behavior Marketing practices Habit Discovery Research, a sophisticated approach that blends ethnography with other advanced qualitative research techniques. Using our model of habitual behavior as a guiding framework, our HDR studies seek to identify the specific building blocks of consumer behavior, specifically habit strength, behavioral complexity, contexts, cues, and feedback mechanisms. With this information in hand, we develop a rich behavioral profile of your consumer based not on what they say, but what they actually do.


The best way to understand of consumers is to watch them in action. We observe consumers interacting with products and services in their homes, stores, and other contexts for purchase and use. Where possible, we tie observation to database analysis, both to enrich the data and highlight discrepancies between the consumer's conscious responses and unconscious actions.

Deep Interviews

Deep interviews get below the conscious responses consumers typically provide. We explore family relationship dynamics; use metaphor elicitation techniques to gain new perspectives; and probe the motivations of behavior from multiple angles to identify gaps between perception and reality.

Context Mapping

We work with the consumer to map the relevant contexts through his or her day, week, month, and year and examine how behavior, cues, automation, and feedback change within each context. Context mapping helps you identify the contexts that are associated with your product and brand, which contexts are crowded with competitors, and any potential contexts that are yet unexplored.

Diary Studies

When information about behavior over a longer time period is required, we supplement ethnographic research with diary studies. Consumers keep diaries for a number of weeks recording specific details about their behavior: when it occurred, how often, in what variety, etc.


The experience of participating in an ethnographic study goes beyond the insight gleaned from a report about the findings. We capture video and images of consumers performing behaviors and audio recordings of each interview. This not only allows us to review each ethnographic session in detail but to also enables others in your organization to see, hear, and experience the source material behind our final report.

Why Should I Consider Habit Discovery Research?

Post hoc rationalization is the bane of market research. It occurs when a consumer has no consciously accessible reason for his or her decision-making and so invents an acceptable answer that makes sense. Market research is often performed in unnatural settings where consumers are forced to provide details regarding behaviors that are habitual and outside conscious awareness. Without actually studying consumers in context, there is no way to know that the answers they provide are truthful or accurate.

By performing research that actively seeks the components of habitual behavior, you are eliminating the randomness and subjectivity of standard ethnography. Integrating confirmatory ethnography into your portfolio of market research tactics allows you to both fact-check other sources of research and create an ongoing anthology of your customers' behavior.

Do You Have Any Examples of Habit Discovery Research?
Campbell Soup Company

Launching a new product in a foreign market and a crowded category involves myriad challenges. Campbell Soup Company asked Sublime to help them understand how customer habits would impact this new product's success.

Read the case study here.