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Study Design: How we Researched Millennials and their Retail "Finds"

See how we collected 1,250 insightful entries from 250 scouts in 8 days.

Words by Kari Dean McCarthy, Visuals by Delaney Gibbons

What makes a purchase so great, it's worth telling your friends about? And how do you happen upon those "great finds?"

Way back in 2013 (when "selfie" and "twerk" made it into the dictionary -- thanks, Oxford), dscout dug into how 250 Millennials discovered their "great finds," with particular attention to the mobile, digital and IRL aspects of their discovery process. We learned the "mobile generation" was not quite as mobile as we expected -- at least not when it came to unearthing the products they were really excited about.

Fast forward to 2016.
Millennials now comprise marketing's coveted 18-34 age group. Time to check in: How has this generation's discovery processed changed? And, what makes a purchase a real "find" for them, anyway?

In under two weeks, we recruited and gathered feedback from 250 of 600 Millennials who applied to the study. Those scouts provided 1,250 daily entries, each with answers to open-ended, closed-ended, video and image prompts. Every day for five days, they shared their most relevant in-the-moment thoughts and purchasing process for their greatest finds.

To lend our some insight into how we designed this study, below we've shared the screener for recruiting, the entry scripts we used to guide feedback, sample snapshots of scout submissions, and a few automated summaries provided by the dscout research platform.

Recruiting Screener: Finding awesome things

Recruit 275 (over-recruit to ensure 250 completes) with a mix of demographics and shopping behaviors similar to our 2013 study.

Days to Recruit
5 (including a holiday weekend)

Demographics (a few screenshots straight from the dscout platform!)


We want to know how you find the things that you want! What are those things? How did you learn about them? How did you decide to buy them? And where did you buy? Selected scouts would complete two short missions for $25. Each mission will include taking photos of purchases you have made, plus a video.

Screener questionnaire / script

Mission 1: Tell us about your cool things

Understand which purchases Millennials categorize as special ("finds"), what makes them special, how they discovered each of those finds, what influenced both their discovery and eventual purchase, and the role of the physical and digital throughout these processes. All 250 participants were tasked with submitting 1 entry per day for 5 days.

5 days for each scout to submit 5 entries

Participant Instructions + Questions

Sample scout entry

Mission 2: Looking back

Understand how and why their Millennials perceive their own shopping process to have changed (or not) over the past three years, and gain insight into what qualities Milennials assign to purchases they deem to be a really great "find."

3 days (a holiday weekend) for each scout to submit 1 entry

Participant Instructions + Questions

Sample scout entry

Interested in learning more about dscout conducted this study?

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