Are you or your clients puzzled by how the people in your marketplace behave?  Do you need to make sense of what they are doing?

When the way forward is clear, people decide or choose what to do and then do it. When the way forward is difficult to see because the world is complex, people have a natural drive to 'make sense of it'.  They make sense of it in a way that is personal to them. This may result in behaviour which is very different from the behaviour that you as a marketer or policy maker expects.

Therefore, you need to understand how they have made sense of it.

We are experts at understanding how people make sense of their experiences and the behaviour.

Our sensemaking expertise came out of our social science training and the the hundreds of interviews we have conducted with people who needed to make sense of sense of the complex and evolving situations they were in. We use our sensemaking expertise for clients whose markets are complex or changing. 


"It makes perfect sense, if you think about it - and it is our job as researchers to do that thinking."

Making sense of change and complexity

If your market or category is changing, we can help you make sense of those changes. We do that by uncovering how your customers are making sense of it. We use deep qualitative research methods to do this.

While the ability to 'make sense' of our experiences is one of the most fundamental aspects of human cognition, people are not usually aware of this process. As social scientists, we know that people make sense of things by seeing patterns and interpreting what they see according to multiple factors: their emotions, their expectations, their social and cultural norms and their sense of identity. When the environment changes, people have to make sense of it all over again.  Humans do this naturally and without conscious awareness. That is why we need intensive qualitative research to explore and uncover these factors.

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Sensemaking webinar for the Research Society

Sue Bell gave a webinar for the Research Society in June 2020. It is about the four different types of sensemaking and includes a case study of her work on vegetarianism.

The Research Society webinar is free and available here:

 At the very beginning, you can hear her talking about an earlier event - the QRCA conference on The Future of Qualitative Global Workshop as she was one of the speakers. The QRCA Future of Qualitative event was described as "We welcome qualitative professionals from around the world to join us in exploring what the new frontier of qualitative research will look like and how we can lead the way. Hear from prominent voices in qualitative who will bring insight and perspective to move us through the challenges of 2020 and beyond. Join us for a thoughtful day of presentations, Q&A, and even small group discussion that can bring new context and inspiration to qualitative research."


More about sensemaking conversations

Sensemaking is the process that people instinctively use when in complex and difficult situations to make sense of what is happening and drive what they do. Our sensemaking conversations give the people we speak to the opportunity to think by talking

Sensemaking conversations

Sensemaking conversations is a very new innovative research technique that we have designed to help our clients understand how research participants 'make sense of' complex situations or difficult dilemmas. Examples include life-stage transitions like becoming a parent or starting retirement; social beliefs like vegetarianism; and products and services that are difficult to use - financial services for example.  Complex situations trigger us to automatically try to make sense of them. When make sense of them by doing something, by reflecting on who we are, and by talking. 

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