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Concept Canvas: Five creative approaches for your online qualitative research community

Online qualitative research communities are an excellent way to get closer to your customer’s everyday lives. It helps you uncover their motivations, behaviors, and emotions around why your brand, product and/or services are important and delve into their thoughts and feelings over an extended period of time.

Forsta’s online qualitative research solution is built upon the principle of getting participants to engage in activity-based research over a period of time – a few days, a week or more, rather than a traditional question and answer approach. There are numerous activities that can help you get close to your customer’s lives, such as mobile diaries, in-store safaris, ‘Ask Mabel’ to name a few.

One particularly versatile activity is called ‘Concept Canvas’. Concept Canvas can be used in a variety of ways, enabling you to explore an idea, concept, journey, emotion or almost anything that you can think of. Think of it more like a ‘Blank Canvas’ where you provide visual stimuli to participants and have them provide feedback in a few different ways. Let’s learn more.

What is Concept Canvas?

Concept Canvas is a dynamic activity enabling instant feedback on ads, concepts, packaging and much more. Instead of just presenting an idea and having participants write text responses, Concept Canvas allows them to interact dynamically with the image.

How does it work?

You (the researcher) upload the visual stimuli (it could be anything, more on this later).

Participants drop pins to indicate their response(s). You can also request them to indicate emotion, select a label and/or provide comments.

How do I analyze the data?

You can view individually dropped pins or generate a heat map, depending on what is most useful. You are also able to filter responses by response order, profile fields and individuals, and, if set up, segments and sentiment.

What can I use it for?

While Concept Canvas activities are great for testing advertisements, they can also be leveraged to get feedback on a wide range of material such as:

  • Concepts
  • Website interfaces
  • Menus
  • Products
  • Positioning statements
  • Planograms
  • Packaging
  • Labels

These are all excellent uses of Concept Canvas but there are many other creative ways to explore your participants’ thoughts and feelings. Here are five interactive activities that can help you dig deeper and understand your customers’ better.

Advertising, Packaging, Menu

1. Perceptual maps

Use perceptual maps to understand perceptions and relationships towards different brands or products. It could be around things such as pricing and value, features, or emotional elements.

2. Interactive journey

Instead of asking your participants to write out different steps or stages in a journey, have them drop pins on a predrawn timeline or map. This is more engaging for them and allows them to visualize the steps they took.

Timeline of a big purchase.

  • Decision to look into new purchase — Research period
  • Decide on an exact model — Deal searching period
  • Make the purchase — Excitement period/continued deal searching period
  • Find a better deal — Period of regret
  • Accept the fact that there will always be a better deal eventually — Period of acceptance

3. Dialogue bubbles

Set the scene through photographs or illustrations, add empty speech bubbles and have participants craft the dialog. Who is thinking what in this particular scenario? What is the conversation flow like? How are they expressing themselves?

4. Photo metaphor

Provide participants with a selection of images and have them drop pins on one (or more) that remind them of particular brands or qualities. This is particularly good for tapping into emotions, how people feel about a brand, or indeed themselves.

5. Evaluation

Instead of using a standard question and singleselect answer format, which is far more appropriate for your surveys, have participants drop pins on a visual scale and get them to say why they’ve selected the options that they did.


Online qualitative research is a powerful way to explore your Customer Truth™, how they think, feel and act. According to a Forrester study, commissioned by Forsta, how people think and feel drives how they act, with how they feel being 1.5x more important than how they think. Concept Canvas is an engaging activity that helps dig into how people feel – explore ideas, concepts, emotions and beyond without the need for direct questioning.


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