Scrapbooking as a Research Tool

Book cover of Brand Hacks: How to Build Brands

Editor’s Note: The GreenBook Blog Team is pleased to feature the second of several entries serializing “The Pursuit of Happiness”,  chapter one of Dr. Emmanuel Probst’s book Brand Hacks: How to Build Brands by Fulfilling the Consumer Quest for Meaning (powerHouse). Read the first entry, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, here. Dr. Probst is SVP of Brand Health Tracking at Ipsos and teaches Consumer Market research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).


Scrapbooking, along with other crafts or hobbies, forces us to concentrate on the here and now, distracting us from everyday pressures and problems. It transports us to a different place, away from our routine concerns. Scrapbooking is meaningful to us because it enables us to create and tell a story; whether online or offline, we make meaning through the texts, graphics, personal photos, or other materials that we create, gather, and curate in these journals.

Note-taking, coloring books, and hand lettering are on the upswing. According to NPD, bullet journaling, acrylic and paint sales, and other artistic and other creative activities are gaining momentum as consumers try to escape technology and come back to something simpler. Interestingly, growth is largely driven by younger customers.

Scrapbooks and collages are an easy and inexpensive way to gather insights into concrete subjective dimensions of your product or brand.

Similar to scrapbooking, collaging is a projective research technique through which participants curate images that illustrate how they feel about a specific topic. Participants then arrange these pictures on a sheet of paper (the “collage”), which serves as an ice-breaker for the conversation. Asking people “how does brand X make you feel”, for example, can lead to rather vague and subjective answers. This method will enable you to visualize the participants’ feelings and states of mind toward your brand, a particular task, or any other scenario you wish to set up.

Similar to Pinterest, a number of market research software applications enable participants to pin images to a specific topic. You can also ask several participants to collaborate on a given research project. You can either give people a stash of pictures to select from (150–200 pictures) or ask them to choose their own. You want people to use a good mixture of all sorts of pictures, not just animals, beaches, or people.

Regardless of your market research proficiency, the artwork will enable you to see the brand through the eyes of your customers. As marketers, we are extremely skewed towards our own brands and are way more knowledgeable than the average consumer. Scrapbooks and collages will show you how consumers perceive your brand, what they know about it, and the elements that are meaningful to them.

For example, you might have just spent $30 million on a campaign to convince everyone your vodka brand is better because it is distilled nine times. In contrast, the collages show that people associate your vodka with binge drinking at college parties. Most consumers know very little about how vodka is made. Even fewer of them care. What matters is what they perceive it to be. Perception is the truth.

  • Unveil some ideas for your marketing and advertising: Always’ “Like a Girl” tagline started as a pin on a whiteboard.
  • Showcase the voice of the customer to your internal stakeholders: Integrate collages into your presentation too. These artworks (and footage, if you recorded the interviews) bring an authentic, uplifting touch to presentations that would otherwise be lists of bullet points.
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