I find that a brilliant starting point for any brief is to go out and shop the category, and if possible observe a few other people shopping the category and chat to people who sell the products. It doesn’t have to take long, but it gives you a proper people-centric point of view before you immerse yourself in your client’s data and all those other good things.
There’s a (probably apocryphal) story that the Prime Minister is made to watch Gogglebox to help them understand the electorate. I struggle to believe this as our leaders rarely display the humanity and empathy which shine through in Gogglebox. It’s a great reminder of what unites us all, and the power of great TV.