We often recommend that the best way to ensure that your product or service will truly satisfy the needs of your female customers is to ask them. How you go about asking is critical as well. Michele Miller points out in her Inc.column that a variety of new market research techniques are emerging that seek to place marketers more firmly in their customers shoes. Her article opens with a description of the typical sterile focus group environment, likening it (quite accurately) to an interrogation room. Not an atmosphere that invites relaxation and honesty. In order to bridge the gap between what people say they do and what they actually do, the environment in which you are asking the questions is critical. Conversation groups between actual friends tend to put women at ease and lead to more honest answers. It's nice to have girlfriend groups, but sometimes you want a more diverse sampling. Additionally, we like to create an environment where observation can occur naturally. This isn't just home immersion, which has its own benefits, but creating a situation that simulates product use circumstances in an environment than engages the women, provides them with a new or interesting experience, and creates camaraderie and trust between strangers. Experiential Market Research breaks down the barriers between customers and moderator, customers and each other, and customers and client. That's right, no two way mirrors. This transparency leads to powerful insights, sometimes not even those on the original agenda, and that's where innovation happens. If you let it.