Stakeholder Insights
Peter Gerlitz

Qualitative Research for
Brand Leadership and Stakeholder Management

We know precisely how deep we must explore to make a brand’s essence or the target group’s motives sparkle.

Exploring in too much depth will produce interesting insights that turn out to be irrelevant. Exploring not deep enough will provide little more than general knowledge.

The true motives of human behavior can be found on four levels:

The first level is about sensory stimulation: The aroma a bakery blows out on the sidewalk makes our mouths water. Physically attractive pharmaceutical sales representatives are more convincing with doctors than their average looking counterparts.

On the second level we find obvious arguments. This shape and color of this shoe follow the current fashion trend, it fits and is a bargain. If all subsidiaries buy the same products, it will lower expenses to order in bulk.

Internalized norms and habits constitute the third level: Young women with steady partners use oral contraceptives. Going to the movies without popcorn and coke would only be half the fun. In this company we’re not on a first-names basis. City officials go by the rulebook, not by the wants and needs of the citizens. Only the CEO is allowed to use green ink.

The fourth level explores the depths of the soul that deal with suppressed traumata, and archetypal patterns. The choice of a dishwashing liquid depends on a woman’s relationship to her mother. Male and female archetypes guide how fine fragrances are selected. Corporations perpetuate thinking patterns, even after their teams and owners have changed. In order to change these patterns, one must work at the essence of the corporation.

Finding the right depth that will lead to the brand essence or the relevant motives of a target group requires knowledge and experience, but above all empathy for people and brands.

Brands are mental fields of power that are alive in people’s imaginations. These fields of power attract some people and repel others. In any case, they are active. A brand’s essence can be found on four levels: the level of sensory experience (e.g. a brand specific product design, as cultivated by Porsche), the level of obvious arguments (e.g. the value-for-money proposition of Aldi), the level of norms and habits (e.g. the Miele proposition to be always better) and the level of suppressed traumata and archetypes (e.g. the “1000 brave men for our town” campaign, which motivates men to have a colonoscopy as a colon cancer prevention measure).

Exploring in the right depth allows us to precisely understand the stakeholders and work on a brand’s essence.

insight story

How the color black turns a car into a brand.

A car manufacturer with outdated models remembers its origins, bridging the time gap before new models are marketed. An almost completely black advertising campaign helps build an exclusive image and raise the interest of the target group.

(Sensory stimulation, archetypes, norms and habits, individual interviews, focus groups, communication and brand strategy)

more Insight Stories


We gain insights

The joy of producing insights guides our work. The art of asking questions is our métier. It all starts with empathetic listening and inspiring questions. Asking questions means reflecting, understanding and thinking ahead. This enables us to gain insights that matter.

We love people

Every person is unique and has something special about them. We welcome everyone with genuine kindness and give them the space they need to open up. The open communication leads into the depths where relevant insights can be found.

We value brands

Brands are living force fields. They can attract people and connect them in a shared destiny. This is why brands are so valuable. Such a force requires caring leadership to ensure that the brand develops in a positive direction.

We give answers

Valuable insights lead to concrete action. While we are generating insights, we think about how to achieve the best solution for the problem at hand.



We always meet deadlines, budgets and other agreements.


Information that is made available to us by our clients is always treated with the utmost care and strict confidentiality. Likewise, we ensure that participants and probands will not face any consequences as a result of their cooperation. Only when clients and participants know they can rely on us will they be able to give us their trust. This is the climate that allows us to explore the necessary depths.


You will always have exactly one person handling your project and you will know who that person is right from the start. No information will be lost, nothing will fall into the wrong hands. This personal relationship forms the basis for mutual trust.


Your project will be conducted in a way that allows us to be totally absorbed in the subject matter and deliver the results in the shortest time possible.

insight story

People who surf the web don’t read what they see.

When searching the web for information, most people don’t really process the information they find and therefore make pseudo-rational decisions.

(Sensory stimulation, obvious arguments, user experience research)

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Our experience is a pool that is wide and deep.

We are very experienced in all methods of qualitative research and have been working in the field since 1986, doing research and developing and fine-tuning our methodology.

We have a wide breadth of experience across many markets and target groups. No market is foreign to us and we have a good rapport with all kinds of target groups.

New topics and issues rejuvenate us and drive our interest in markets and people. This asset helps our clients better understand their customers and brands. Our insights ignite a process to foster new thinking beyond standard modes of perception and doing business.

International studies can be conducted thanks to our highly-qualified network of fellow researchers. National studies can be conducted anywhere in Germany.

Markets and Brands

Pharmacies and medical professionals

  • Pharmaceuticals Rx
    • JansenCilag
    • Stada
    • Weleda
  • OTC
    • Almased
    • GSK
    • Madaus
    • Pfizer
    • Stada
    • Wyeth
  • Animal health
    • Dr. Schaette
  • Prevention
    • Krebsgesellschaft NRW
    • Krebsgesellschaft Hessen

Personal, laundry and home care

  • Cosmetics, fine fragrances
    • 4711
    • Hugo Boss
    • Laura Biagotti
    • Otto Kern
    • Tosca
  • Laundry and home care
    • Fairy
    • Lenor
    • Melitta
    • Mr. Proper
    • Scotch Brite
    • Spontex

Food and Beverages

  • Pet food
    • Frolic
    • Kitekat
    • Sheba
  • Food
    • Appel
    • Barilla
    • Diamand
    • Gutfried
    • Schär
    • Tulip
  • Confectionery
    • Bahlsen
    • Mars
  • Coffee and tea
    • Melitta
    • Teekanne
  • Paper products
    • Tempo
    • Toppits
    • Swirl
  • Soft drinks
    • Brohler
    • Capri Sonne
    • Punica
    • Vaihinger
  • Alcoholic beverages
    • Deutscher Wein
    • EKU
    • Gatzweiler
    • Gilden
    • Kupferberg
    • Moritz Fiege
    • Radeberger
    • Schlösse
    • Viala
  • Cigarettes
    • HB
    • Pall Mall
  • Table culture
    • Duni
    • Hutschenreuther
    • Wilkens
  • Restaurants
    • Burger King
    • McDonalds

Trade and Services

  • Retail
    • DocMorris
    • Karstadt
    • Praktiker
    • Real
    • Saturn
    • Vitalia
    • Walmart
  • Food
    • Appel
    • Barilla
    • Diamand
    • Gutfried
    • Schär
    • Tulip
  • Entertainment
    • RTL2
    • Stage Entertainment
    • UCI Kinowelt
    • Warner Bros. Movie World
    • WWF
  • Education
    • Schülerhilfe
  • Airlines
    • Germanwings
    • Lufthansa


  • Automobile industry
    • Audi
    • Landrover
    • Mini
    • Rover
    • Volkswagen
    • Volvo
  • Household appliances
    • Bosch
    • Hülsta
    • Krups
    • Loewe
    • Miele
    • Moulinex
    • Vorwerk
  • Building technology
    • ABUS
    • Dörken
    • DOM
    • Hüppe
    • Pattex
    • Sanha-Kaimer
    • UPM
    • Viessmann
    • Vitrulan

Utilities and Communication

  • Communication
    • E-Plus
    • Vodafone
  • Utilities
    • Alliander
    • E.ON

Banking and Insurance

  • Finance
    • ADAC Versicherungen
    • Aegon Lebensversicherungen
    • Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall
    • Ergo Hausratversicherung
    • Commerzbank
    • Cortal Consors
    • Deutsche Bank
    • MoneYou
    • Monuta

Corporate and Employees

  • Corporate culture and structure
    • Hellmann
    • Hölters & Elsing
    • Mannesmann
    • Ogilvy
    • Dr. Schaette
    • Schering

Target Groups


Senior citizens


Regional differences and identities (Hamburg, Berlin, Köln, Düsseldorf, Essen, Bochum, Stuttgart, München, Nürnberg,, Leipzig, Dresden, Ruhrgebiet, Ostdeutschland, Hessen, Franken, Schwaben)

International differences (USA, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Poland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland)


Medical doctors
Call center agents
Sales representatives

Associated Partners



Factory floor workers
Middle management
Upper echelon

Financial Community


insight story

Intestinal polyps encourage men.

Men who are afraid of colon cancer don’t go to prevention screenings because they feel that would be a confession of their own anxieties. But if the cancer screening is framed as an act of bravery and the communication talks about polyps instead of cancer, men will be more motivated to have a colonoscopy.

(Archetype, focus groups, communication research)

more Insight Stories

Methods: Goals

People always have a choice. Their choices are not random. We provide insights about what influences people’s choices.

The Why Question: Mindset, Motives and Barriers

We explore the mindset of target groups and brands and provide insights into how to make best use of these mindsets and how to develop them further. Typical questions include, but are not limited to: “What is the best positioning for our brand?” “Which motives and barriers are at work when people buy our products?” “What is the common mindset of this business unit compared to the overall company?”

The How Question: Customer and Brand Experience

We explore how target groups perceive communication, products and the corporation as such in order to pinpoint what improvements are advisable. Typical questions include, but are not limited to: “How can we improve our website?”, “How can we refine our recipe to appeal to the taste of this target group?”, “How can we optimize our internal communication?”

Methods: Practices

Various types of practices are implemented and then streamlined to the relevant question in terms of content and methodology. The following have proven to be successful:


  • In-depth interviews
  • In-home interviews
  • Interviews at work
  • Interviews at point of purchase
  • Interviews while using a product
  • Coaching

Group Interviews

  • Focus groups
  • Concept lab
  • Insight lab
  • Duo interviews
  • Triads
  • Workshops


  • Usage
  • Shopping
  • Website
  • A day in the life of...
  • At work

Semiotic Analysis

  • Advertising and websites
  • Call center communication
  • Online communication
  • Zoning in stores, malls, streets, cities, regions
  • Internal memos, correspondence and other documents

Secondary Research

  • Strategy, memos, other publications
  • Qualitative studies
  • Quantitative studies
  • Statistical data
  • Trade literature
  • Internet search
  • Relevant storytelling
  • Artifacts
insight story

Repressed mother conflicts are resolved while doing household chores.

Women experience their roles in very different ways when doing household chores. Depending on their relationships with their mothers they feel like either slobs, slaves or great housewives. Some would rather leave all it behind. Brands can help by using appropriate key signals.

(Suppressed traumata, focus group, mindset)

more Insight Stories

Peter Gerlitz

Peter Gerlitz

I founded my own independent research and consulting practice in 1991.

At Henrion Ludlow & Schmidt, a corporate identity consultancy in London, I learned how to take a look from the top at brands and corporations. My formative years were with the Grey advertising group, where I learned a lot about brand development and brand leadership and about putting the customer first. I worked as a market researcher, creative planner and strategic advisor for a number of different brands, including major brands like P&G, Volvo and British American Tobacco.

My academic studies in business and communication focused on strategy and psychology. I studied at the Free University of Berlin in Germany, the University of Business Administration in Vienna, Austria and the University of Illinois in the USA.

At the beginning of my own practice, the focus of my work was on consumers and their relationships to brands. Over the years, more and more target groups have emerged. Today we look into the hearts of corporations and cities and listen to the citizens. We understand how doctors perceive their patients, their drugs and prevention programs. We listen to employees across all ranks, about how they think and feel about their own company and its future.

To me, Stakeholder Insights is all about developing a deep understanding of all target groups along the value chain of a corporation.

insight story

How a small advertising agency packs a punch.

It’s hard for any advertising agency to convey its competence. The “punch” of the boxing terminology becomes the theme for a small agency and delivers new leads.

(Archetypes, workshop, positioning)

more Insight Stories


Stakeholder Insights
Peter Gerlitz
Heimweg 6
47803 Krefeld

telephone: +49 2151 595 099

fax: +49 2151 594 926


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