Insights with empathy: the approach that led to a deeper understanding of the Cost-of-Living crisis

Exploring how the ‘ Value: Relationships Under Duress‘ project by C Space, in collaboration with Hall & Partners and Visa, uses empathy, cultural sensitivity, and innovative methodologies to uncover the emotional impact of the global cost-of-living crisis.

Human beings are complex. Plato said that human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. In a world where the cost-of-living crisis looms large, understanding the emotions that guide consumer behaviour is crucial. However, delving into such deeply personal experiences requires a delicate approach – a blend of empathy, cultural sensitivity, and innovative methodologies.

How Did Value and the C Space Way Help Unravel the Nuances of This Crisis?

The cost-of-living crisis has become a pervasive force, reshaping lives, and upending priorities globally. However, behind the economic jargon lies a tapestry of emotions—fear, uncertainty, resilience, and hope—that significantly drive individual decisions. But when talking about money is deeply personal, a taboo even in most societies, building relationships is the key to helping people open up. C Space, in partnership with Hall & Partners and Visa, wanted to better understand the deeper emotions and human truths behind the hardships of the cost-of-living crisis. ‘Value: Relationships Under Duress‘ uses the unique C Space approach to dig deep and peel back the layers.

Entering the Power of Communities.

Communities are unique and diverse spaces. By fostering trust and creating safe environments for open dialogue, communities provide a platform for individuals to share their stories authentically. From the bustling streets of New Delhi to the tranquil suburbs of the German countryside, each voice adds something unique to a shared human experience.

While communities are invaluable, some nuances are hard to distinguish through written responses alone. Living and breathing the experiences of our participants through in-home ethnographies offers a view into the lives of the consumer. Within the familiar confines of their living spaces, participants share intimate details of their struggles, aspirations, and daily rituals. It’s here that the cost-of-living crisis transcends statistics, manifesting as personal narratives of sacrifice, resilience, and determination.

In the digital world, emotions find expression in the subtlest of gestures and words. Through in-depth online interviews conducted in participants’ native languages, we were able to unravel the palpable anxiety of uncertain times and the flicker of hope in shared dreams. Each interaction reveals a facet of the human experience.


Take Renu, one of our Value participants from New Delhi, India. She says,

‘We are alone in the struggles we go through, facing those struggles alone. We cannot tell anyone, not even our husbands, because they are also working. I don’t want to burden them with worries. So, as far as I think, we women face all the situations alone.

Without the cultural understanding of societal structures in the Indian society, we would not be able to understand how finances and the cost of living are affecting her and her family directly, as well as the significance of gender roles and family burdens.

While qualitative insights breathe life into the topic, adding depth and nuance, numbers quantify the scale of the challenge. Together, they form a symphony of understanding, resonating with the rhythms of human emotions.

Unravelling these stories, both digitally and in person, was a challenge of empathy. At the heart of our approach lies the C Space way – a blend of tools designed to elicit emotion and understanding. From intimate conversations to creative exercises that unlock hidden truths, each tool serves as a bridge between researcher and participant, fostering a deeper connection. Take our C Space way method, Art from Within, a method derived from child psychology. We asked our interview participants to draw the feelings they’ve experienced due to the COLC, bringing to life tricky and intangible emotions into something more tangible and visual that can be explored and analysed by us as researchers.

These approaches left us with a vast array of data that needed synthesizing. In an era of big data, cutting-edge technology is needed to transform all this raw data into actionable insights. Enter C Space GPT. By harnessing the power of generative artificial intelligence, we were able to navigate the complexities of the cost-of-living crisis with speed and precision, without losing sight of the human stories at its core.

In a world grappling with uncertainty, empathy emerges as our guiding light. Through communities and the C Space way, we navigated the labyrinth of human emotions with grace and humility. As we unlock insights that transcend borders and cultures, we pave the way for a future where understanding and empathy reign supreme.

Have a project or challenge that requires an empathetic approach? Inspired by our Value work? Reach out to us today and discover the transformative power of communities and learn more about the C Space way to understanding the human experience.

Why C Space Online Communities.

  • C Space runs private, password-protected online spaces where a client’s target audience is carefully recruited to participate in a wide range of custom quali-quant research.
  • Unlike a panel, C Space Online Communities are moderated by C Space team members to build engagement with consumers. We view and treat these Community Members as “consultants to the brand” sponsoring the community. (Note that some C Space Online Communities are unbranded.)
  • C Space Online Communities are the starting point for a wide range of research approaches to meet clients’ key business objectives and drive growth.

Ready to learn how your insights team can get started? Contact us.

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