Ethnographic research, or the ability to observe actions and reactions in real-world conditions, is often seen as the epitome of market inquiries. But, in the world of construction, it’s a fact that there are very few "typical" days on a building site — rain days, material delivery delays, worker no-shows, broken tools and equipment, inspection scheduling quirks, and many other factors make conducting effective market research at the jobsite nearly impossible.
Despite its inherent pitfalls, Home Innovation Research Labs has been conducting research at jobsites since the 1960s. Our experience with construction industry ethnography guided us through the creation of our Observational Research Facility that allows us to conduct “jobsite” research in the controlled environment of a lab. Time and motion studies, new product installation procedure development, and observing and obtaining feedback from installers while on-the-job are all possible within our facility. Site conditions are controlled, and we remove the variability experienced at a typical jobsite to consistently, reliably measure differences between the installation of different products and materials.
When needed, we can create conditions in our lab that mirror special field conditions — cold, wet, heat, even sawdust and grime — to measure the impact these factors have on installation. For example, we’ve used our 25’ x 25’ cold room for installers to evaluate the slip resistance of roofing underlayment, the application ease of caulks and sealants, the ease of application for tapes and adhesives, and more. It's unlikely you'd get the same on-demand capability with Mother Nature!
Home Innovation's unique Observational Research Lab is specifically designed and designated for evaluating product installation. Once engaged by a sponsor, we review the desired marketing claims, create an appropriate evaluation protocol, conduct the evaluation, and issue a proprietary report that summarizes the findings and research method. A typical test protocol involves hiring construction professionals or do-it-yourselfers to install product on a life-size structure, or use tools and equipment under realistic jobsite conditions.
Two-story structure built on Home Innovation's Observational Research deck.
The entire process is video recorded, and manufacturers can observe the evaluation real-time from a private and comfortable room through one-way glass. The researchers and sponsors learn through observing, if needed, the researchers will interact with installers to get feedback throughout the installation process.
Perhaps your product was designed to be installed more quickly, by less-highly-skilled workers, and with fewer installation errors. Unfortunately for manufacturers who have developed truly innovative products with benefits beyond their competitors', there are few standardized test methods to empirically validate benefits like these. Home Innovation has decades of experience designing and conducting research to measure the qualitative aspects of installation that translate into marketing advantages.