Visual Thinking: Introducing Gallery Groups


Written By: Sophie Bradford

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Visual Thinking™ is the BAMM way, and when it comes to designing projects for our clients based on the original Focus Group, henceforth to be known as the Gallery Groups, that’s how we approached it.

Our expertise at BAMM lies famously with our highly visual ethnography. The principles of ethnography rest on the observation of naturally occurring behaviour and non-interrogative techniques. Ethnography raises expectations for behavioural insight, and we expect our newly born Gallery Groups to uphold these principals.

Let me set the scene for you: a Gallery Group starts off as the name would suggest – you are on your feet, walking around and adorning the walls covered with photographs, videos, newspaper articles, prose, verse – all manner of visual metaphors and symbols for each topic we are there to understand.

As with any gallery, you naturally shift and move to what draws you in, what intrigues you and avoid what you don’t like or find confusing. We observe and use this natural behaviour to lead our discussions.

The visual gallery allows us to cover all topics, but in a participant-navigated, expressive and natural way. Starting people off in a visual dimension also helps to make them more open to non-verbal communication later on such as visual projective techniques.


We learn a great deal about human behaviour and communication in market research, yet this is often sacrificed, when it comes to focus groups. It is accepted that there is a certain amount of moderator bias and that the discussion flow can lead the participants. This is unavoidable. But does that mean that we should stop trying to limit its effect? Using visuals, ethnographic observational skills and letting the participants lead helps break down these problems.

Originally, focus groups favoured the articulate, those more socially able to communicate and those less shy amongst us. Visuals allow the silent to speak and the diffident to disseminate their perspective more effectively within a group.

A freer, more mobile and visual gallery based discussion allows our clients to freely move between being a participant and an observer as they can sit behind the glass or engage in the gallery.

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